XV The Devil
When Susan’s cousin drew this card for me in my Tarot reading at the end of July, I was a bit shocked.
Normally, I avoid negativity as much as possible, but its position in the middle of the spread reminded me that I cannot become whole unless I embrace the shadow side of my personality.
This is what my Tarot of the New Vision book says:
A gigantic demon sits on top of a small slab of stone. Its characteristics mirror the traditional iconography. Its large bat-like wings suggest its nocturnal nature or, rather, the spiritual darkness it represents. Its goat’s head and legs suggest its animal traits and sexual instinct. Its feet and clawed hands indicate aggression. It is necessary to look closely at these elements in order to thoroughly understand the meaning of the image we’re looking at.
Points of Power
In both the animal world and our own, horns are the symbol of a superior power. In fact, there is a linguistic connection between the terms horn and crown (coronus and corona in Latin and karnon and korone in Greek). In this case, the Devil’s horns, together with the head, hide the geometry of an inverted star (a so-called Pentacle, a symbol of magical power). The five points of the star, representing the five primary senses, are exalted here. This is the inversion of Pythagorean philosophy, in which the points of the Pentacle remain upright.
The devil’s claws are instruments of offense and defense, but also suggest the creature’s ability to seize its conquests. Ultimately, the devil expresses the materialistic desire for power, in any shape or form…and the need to possess it, even through occult means.
A Light in the Night
Let’s consider for a moment the image’s nocturnal dimension. Night is the domain of the unconscious mind: the absence of reason, the realm of imagined monsters and other forces that emerge in the absence of sunlight. But this night isn’t completely dark: the demon itself produces light with the torch it holds in its left hand. This detail reminds us of the myth Prometheus, who stole fire from the gods to give it to humans. Prometheus was a civilizing hero, but his gift (like any scientific discovery) brings dangers, too. The Devil’s torch, then, illuminates the risk we take when human intelligence delves into Nature’s deepest mysteries.
Slaves of Desire
The torch itself sheds light on a man and woman chained to the stone slab. It also reveals the very excited demons before them in the flames, symbolic of both passion and emotional disturbance.
The couple reminds us of Adam and Eve, who, after being expelled from Earthly Paradise, fell into the material world and became subject to desire. Their physical appearance shows that sin has partially transformed them; their horns and tails, in fact, suggest animal traits. This beast-like nature is balanced by the beauty of the human body that was made in the image of the Creator.
Breaking Free of the Chains
Basically, the couple shown here are slaves to passion: a potential present in us all, along with a fear of destiny. When you become aware of your slavery and fear, you break the chains of frustration, tear away your limitations, and find, in an affectionate relationship, the balanced state of mind required to escape this sad condition of impediment.
As far as the Devil is concerned, he will always stay on his pedestal (like a totem of desire), restraining whoever tries to escape his power by casting light on their real nature. Even from among those who try to flee him, the Devil seizes anyone who can be seduced by the fascinations, mysteries, and pleasures of the flaming Abyss.
You can go a long way with just a little charm and persuasion. Original ideas and attitudes are appreciated, provided they’re not vulgar, because sexual activity can be expected. Give way to your desires, but don’t give in to suggestions or temptations.Pages 47-48
Message received; over and out.