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XV: The Devil

Thread originally posted on the Aeclectic Tarot Forum on 29 Sep 2002, and now archived in the Forum Library.

nina  29 Sep 2002 
In the interest of sharing info and learning, could anyone who reads this post a description of what they think The Devil represents? It doesn't have to be long or in depth, but it can be. I think it would be interesting to see the different ideas we have about one card, and this is a card I feel I might be misinterpreting.
I view it as a representation of baser, non-spiritual impulses. Dark things you can't get rid of in your personality but don't want to indulge.

Strega  29 Sep 2002 
Hi Nina,

Here's an old thread about the DEVIL. :)

Edited to add: Also see The Devil Card - A New Approach

Fuzzmello  29 Sep 2002 
Thanks Strega, for the old thread (DEVIL.)
Very interesting.
I got a real kick out of Umbrae's post.

"To quote Tyler Derdan [‘fight club’], “You are not your Kakis”. You are not your job. You are not your addiction. You are not ‘what you do in private’."



Linda698  30 Sep 2002 
I think it represents your hang-ups, whether that be smoking, drinking or whatever. It could also be telling you to get away from negative influences, maybe your stuck ina loveless relationaship or something similar. I am a beginner tho so i may be completely wrong! 

WillieHewes  02 Oct 2002 
HI! Thought I'd add my own tiny thoughts to the loads of stuff already said (in the linked threads).

I've never seen the lovers as the opposite of the devil, actually, and it doesn't make much sense to me. Yes, the Devil is a christian construct, but if you see him as the opposite of God (=love) and therefore as an absence of love I think you're making a mistake. (Divinerguy talks about this in the 'new approach' thread linked above.)

Nowhere does it say in the bible or other writing that the devil is the 'opposite' of god. Rather he is the enemy of mankind. Besides, the idea of equating God with love is actually modern, and didn't live in the minds of those who created and shaped the Tarot, I think. The Devil then represented either a literal demon, something bad that jumps out in the night to get you, or it was the forces of temptation. Think of Faust, the many deals with the devil that get made in old folk-tales. The devil was only the opposite of God in that he made people focus on the pleasures of earthly existance, instead of on the grace of God. People who were under the influence of the devil did not prepare for the afterlife, which was the most important thing in this life.

This is, I think, what the tarot devil is about: temptation, focussing on materialism, pleasure of the sex, drugs and rock and roll type. Or possibly, an opposite to your attempts at leading a spiritual life, the things holding you back from this.

If I say I've always seen the opposite or flipside of the devil to be temperance, are you all going to sit and stare? I'll explain, but I've been talking for quite some time now, and would like to hear some reactions first.


Diana  02 Oct 2002 

Francesca  03 Oct 2002 
I consider the Devil to be a companion of sorts to the 8 of Swords and both to be hopeful cards.

In both cards the figures are bound, but in the Devil card--at least in the R-W decks--they need not be. The chains around their necks would slip off easily. Escape from a bad or lacking situation is possible and the way is obvious. You just have to look.

In the 8 of Swords, there is an opening in the line of swords behind the bound figure and the rope around her middle is loose as well. There is a way out.


MeeWah  03 Oct 2002 
WillieHewes: I can see why Temperance could be seen as the opposite of The Devil. The former pertains to assimilation, moderation, balance, appropriate action whilst the latter pertains to earthly pleasures, excess, addiction, obsession, restrictions. If Temperance is "reversed", it could compare in kind to The Devil's traditional associations.

The Devil is not always a "negative". It can remind one to not be so rigid; to have a sense of humor, so on. It seems to be a Christian-Judeo concept, like a distortion of Pan or Bacchus. I am sure that for some, the concept is the personification of evil, but 'tis not for all.

I tend to see The Devil as the opposite or the shadow of The Lovers due to their numbers & the energies expressed by each.
That is, 15 (The Devil) is 1+5 or 6 (The Lovers). The Lovers is more about choices & responsibility than about love, though love may be one of its areas of influence. 

Cerulean  04 Oct 2002 
I've just purchased the Visconti Gold book and deck. The book has interesting historical notes, translated from the Italian point of view. The editor is Giordano Berti and writer is Tiberio Gonard. Berti has edited and written for Lo Scarabeo rather extensively. Since they redid the Devil and Tower cards so that the 2002 release of the book-deck differs from the 2000/2001 Visconti Gold card pack, you might find the description interesting---here's a paraphrase:
No pack of illuminated tarots exists where the card of the Devil has been conserved, so we will have to refer to the less exclusive packs realized in Italy in the same period...
Metropolitan Museum in NY--Dick Tarot and National Gallery in Washington-two Fererra sheets of tarocchi cards (Rosenwald sheet) shows a horned and beareded devil with bat wings and taloned feet, bearing a three-pronged pitchfork on his left shoulder: in place of privates, there is a diabolic face in the first image and a complete coverage of hair in the second image.
Universtity of New Haven has the Cary Sheet from Milan, whee the Devil is horned, has small bat wings, privates showing, as the figure is unclad. The right hand holds a pitchfork that is spearing a figure and there is a bag in the back of the devil, where various damned figures are emerging from.
The Rothschild Sheet now in the Louvre museum was originally from Bologna and has a grotesque appearance: cows head, bat wings from neck, body is a human face surrounded by long hair and stands on falcon feet: he is consuming two figures.
The representation suggested is that the devil represents the seven deadly sins and in general, the basest instincts and their manifestations in professional life, between two people and in daily activities.
The position immediately after Temperance indicates the horrid fate of those who die and do not practise the Christian virtues. It is a warning not to let egoism vanquish charity; not to let oneself be tempted into sin; not to be corrupted; to avoid people and situations that would lead to evil or incorrect action.
So the people who agree with the Devil being opposite of Temperance have not only an interesting point--they have a book definition that seems to agree with them.
It's interesting for me. 

DeLani  07 Oct 2002 
Hi again all,
Back again after a long hiatus of occasional lurking. This is an interesting subject - as a Capricorn, the Devil is my astrological card, so I've had to really spend a lot of time with it, to come to terms with it. After all, all Capricorns can't be evil (well, maybe just a few! :) ) I think of the Hierophant/Pope as the companion or shadow of the Devil, as one is #5, and the other is #15, a higher vibration of 5. If you look at the overall composition of the cards (in most Waite-Smith style decks) the figures are very similar. One teacher, two "students;" one has keys, the other chairns; both figures (devil & pope) have one hand in a mudra and a scepter or torch in the other. I see them as opposites on the same spectrum of spirit/flesh. That by seeing spirit and flesh as seperate, we can become trapped, either in base materialism (the Devil) or in aescetic (sp?) religion and conformity (the Pope). Neither one is good for us. We have to have a balance between loving life and focusing on spirit.
So, in addition to meaning self-destructive behavior (and yes, sometimes black magic), I also see a hidden lesson in the Devil - to laugh at convention, to give the Pope the finger sometimes, and that no matter how lovely the sermon, it just doesn't compare to acutally experiencing life.
My 2c!

Red Emma  07 Oct 2002 
I first came across the devil card in the Motherpeace deck, which was my first deck.

The symbols in the Motherpeace deck pertain to a new, cooperative, we're all in this together so let's work together to find the best ways to live, kind of world. (I hope that sentence isn't too convoluted.) A world in which the driving forces are cooperation and compassion instead of competition and violence. So, of course, Motherpeace views the devil (and evil) as a symbol of the worst of our heirarchical, power-over society.

In my first encounter with Motherpeace's devil, it represented my father who was indeed rigid, controlling, harsh, narrow minded and punitive.

I must admit that sometimes the devil in my readings represents something else, so I'm glad to have the other ideas in this thread. Still, I'm of the opinion that most of the evil in our world has come from that controlling, power-over mind set. When the devil turns up in my readings, that's my first take on it.

I hope I've not overly offended anyone.

Red Emma II
(The original Red Emma spent her life fighting dictators. Spent a lot of time in jail as a result.) 

The XV: The Devil thread was originally posted on 29 Sep 2002 in the Using Tarot Cards board, and is now archived in the Forum Library. Read the threads in Using Tarot Cards, or read more archived threads.

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