Updated: Nov 26, 2021
Here is another show-stopper of a card; one whose arrival in a reading often causes those who know nothing of the Tarot to be a bit anxious. The card was traditionally depicted with the Devil, or more accurately Baphomet, the goat of Mendes; a deity whose origin is filled with mystery, with the most popular notion being that they were worshipped by the Knights Templar. Where the Devil is seen as God's arch-nemesis; the epitome of evil, Baphomet is symbolic of the entirety of the Universe, with good and evil being a matter of perspective, as we all have both light and dark, good and evil inside of us. As depicted in decks based on The Rider Waite Tarot, the Devil/Baphomet is seen sitting on a pedestal as judge or warden over the man and woman who are chained in front of him. Naked and unremorseful the couple wears chains around their neck that appears to bind them to the Devil. But upon close examination, we see the chains are loose and could easily be slipped over their heads.
The Devil card shows us the dance we play out with our consciousness and the choices we make. It speaks of our shadow and what vices we carry. In the Druid Tarot, there is a more passionate feel in connection to The Devil, as the naked couple is lovers lounging sleepily in their satiated pleasure, while Cernunnos the untamed god of wild things looks on. Like Baphomet, Cern, the horned god, has been misrepresented by Christianity as evil, when in fact he was truly good of nature, and one who may encourage our baser actions as simply following the rhythm of nature. Both depictions, are complex and speak of the illusion that lies in our shadow. The Devil is titillating and intoxicating, like a curse we place upon ourselves, through addiction and poor choices. The Devil speaks of forbidden fruit, and the price we pay for partaking of it!
One of my favorite depictions of The Devil is in the Steampunk Deck, which shows the devil as a machine, that the man and woman are fueling and tending. The Devil would literally cease to function if they stopped feeding and fixing it!
When The Devil shows up in a reading it is asking us to examine the same-old song & dance we keep performing. Our actions, habits, and thoughts are being called in for examination. What bad habits and relationships do we keep repeating? How are we contributing to our own hell? From another perspective it asks us to question why we keep feeding it, what purpose is it serving in our lives? By recognizing that we are living in a reality we are creating, and caretaking, we can choose how we want to engage with it. This may lead us to disengage from destructive behavior, or it may lead us to reexamine the stories we tell and how cultural and religious dogma influence our beliefs.
Our minds are mighty, and the stories we tell ourselves about good and evil, and bondage and freedom will often create tense dramatizations within our consciousness. The Devil is our creation, the illusion of a demented overlord, created through our thoughts and actions. When The Devil shows up it is important to remember we are the ones controlling the beast, the chains are ours to remove, we are our own liberators. We need to change the dance and move in a direction that frees us!
The Devil is part of a 22 part series that you can find here on my blog-
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