The Devil is a major tarot card and sits at number 15.
With so much misrepresentation of the Devil in tarot it is often difficult for students to decipher the cards true meaning.
At number 5 we have the Pope or Hierophant, symbolising clear communication with ones higher self, while here at number 15, the second cycle of tarot, we find the Devil representing negative thoughts, habits and behavioural patterns.
The Devil stands on a pillar representing the physical realm that we are all bound to. Chained to this pillar are a male and a female figure which represent the duality that binds us to life and rebirth until we reach self-realisation.
The symbol explains how through temptations in the physical world the Devil binds us into life time after life time of bondage to lower levels of existence.
In practice we experience this as bad habits and feelings of guilt.
All of us have a propensity to fall back on habitual behaviour when we feel stuck, ineffectual or unhappy. This can be anything from smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, taking drugs, over indulgence in chocolate, unconsciously choosing painful relationships (because we are familiar with them), over working, gambling, stealing, lying, sexual excess, abstinence, laziness … the list is endless.
In medieval times the Devil is shown pitch-forking the ‘sinners’ into the mouth of hell, creeping up to steal someone’s soul at the moment of death, and generally wreaking havoc when we’re out trying to have a good time. The message is loud and clear. Be good or the Devil will take you.
In life many things are pleasurable and highly satisfying in moderation. We all need food to sustain us, but when it becomes our evening habit to sit down and eat three large bars of chocolate self-restraint has flown and we are under the power of the Devil. Temptation is all around us. Have another beer. Go and have lots of sex without ever forming a relationship. Tell lies until everybody is suspicious and has learnt not to trust you. We all have our excuses for this repetitive behaviour, but until we listen to our higher conscious, as symbolised by The Pope, we stay locked in and chained down by the Devil.
Often we experience this as other people “making us feel guilty.” This process often starts in early childhood when we are threatened with withdrawal of love if we continue our “bad” activity, and offered punishment if we persist. This early programming sets up a cycle of guilt every time we endeavour to tread our own path of self-discovery.
The Devil reversed symbolises breaking away from these old habits and making ourselves a clearer channel for our highest good so that we cease to be locked into these habitual patterns of activity. I have often seen this in readings where the questioner is consciously seeking to address their drinking, smoking or eating habits.
The negative side of the Devil reversed in when the individual has no remorse or guilt of any sort. Sometimes people are completely unaware that their actions have caused harm to others. On a general level this type of individual presents as inconsiderate. On a deeper level I have seen it in readings for people with criminal tendencies, or where they are already in therapy having treatment for deep psychosis. Without a sense of conscience, which the Devil offers, an individual is likely to become both dangerous and evil.
When drawing Tarot cards as hints and tips for your creative writing the Devil is your baddie. Here’s someone who will do evil things and have no remorse. It’s your psychotic killer, or the lover who believes that keeping you close is for your own good, and nothing to do with their own sense of inadequacy.
In one reading a woman had the Devil representing her feelings of bondage and guilt while nursing her elderly mother. She had been brought up to respect her parents yet hated the lack of freedom which her overwhelming sense of duty brought with it. “I shall feel so guilty if I don’t look after her myself,” she said, even though she had enough resources to pay for a nursing home for her mother, or employ home help.
This type of guilt is laid on by the desire to be ‘good,’ and the fear of how society will point the finger and accuse us of being ‘bad’ if we don’t fall in line with how everyone else says things should be done.
For beginners and more experienced tarot readers I have two books available in many popular formats.
Sex & Tarot
Paperback via Lulu (possibly best price)
Also on Nook and other platforms
The System of Symbols, a new way to look at tarot
If you’ve enjoyed this article please follow my blog so that you’ll be kept up to date when I post new articles and tarot interpretations. If you’re not on WordPress come along and follow me on Facebook ToniAllenAuthor or @listansus. Come along and follow me anyway, it would be great to meet you.