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The Devil
the devil tarot card vitoria deck

First of all, forget the idea of some ultimate evil villain. Think more of impish Puck, or playful, horny Pan, of the ways our mind can wander when we take our spiritual eyes 'off the ball' and lose sight of 'higher things'. The 'devil' of folklore - before the more fundementalist factions blew him up out of all proportion - is very Pan-like and a spirit, often a wood spirit, with the special duty of punishing naughty children. As recently as the 1930s he can be found on Christmas cards accompanying St Nick on his gift-giving rounds. Not an all-powerful deity or anti-deity, the puckish spirit could be met at a crossroads where a pact could be made - clearly the origin of the tale concerning Robert Johnson's miraculous blues abilites.

To bolster themselves, the big hitting religions have allowed him to become associated with our superstitious ideas of an underworld complete with fiery furnaces, where sinners - and especially unbelievers (sinners can repent) can look forward to eternal torment.

Such ideas come from the times when the religions espousing them were keen to increase their numbers and to retain their hold on their members - the times of the crusades, of the Inquisition, and of today's fundementalists of various ilks come readily to mind. The Tarot devil belongs to an earlier time and is that part of us which, although expressive and creative, pleasurable and fun, can become an obsessive pursuit, blinding us to other things.
the devil tarot card marseilles deckThere are two cards in the deck that give rise to nervous laughter.  This is one of them.  One of the problems this card highlights is the tendency to demonise.  When things go wrong, when we do bad things, it is not some external force that has made us do it – the act of not taking responsibility for our actions is a failing.  Our need for security, for things, materiality, money can become an obsession and leave us slaves to a false or faulty belief system.  This can manifest as obsessions with people, the need for attention, even as addictions – for example we falsely believe that a cigarette will at once make us relaxed, look cool and feel calm although we know, on some level that the reverse is nearer the truth.  The Devil stands for all forms of bondage, including subservience to our own baser urges (and I’d include EastEnders and Big Brother in this). 

    One of the big problems for people with this card is that The Devil just isn’t a very acceptable symbol for anything. You need to readdress the idea of where we get our morality, our ethics from because it certainly isn’t from the Bible or any of the ideas of good and evil set out in there. We actually take very little guidance from the Bible, cherry picking from a few ‘moral’ tales which, if we were to follow them all would see this world as being significantly more dangerous and warped than it already is! Our inner guidance on issues of morality and altruism is much more connected with our innate sense of survival, and this in terms of species above individual concerns.  This card is very positive when looking at issues of binding obligation and long term commitment, often linked to our need to ensure our security and reproductive chances.  It is a warning about the dangers of obsession in these areas. So lots of words to come to one simple point - Sex and Shopping...












© Jeremy Rogers 2007 Document made with Nvu return to top