Tarotbytes – The Devil


Mephistopheles Perfected

MEPHISTOPHELES PERFECTED copyright Sahm Ataine King – used with permission

Now that we’ve learned not to fear the ‘Death’ card from Tarot’s major arcana, let’s talk about some of the other scary looking cards.

Personally, I think the Devil card is the one that really needs us to be brave.

Again, we have to look at the card in a cultural and historic context. In the dominantly Catholic world of Medieval France and Italy, it is only natural that the “Devil” would be the symbol for violence, hatred, fear, anger and all the things we label “evil”, wrong or “negative”. The ‘devil’ as it is portrayed in the well-known Rider- Waite deck is the one from Christian mythology, but almost every other culture has some image, symbol or personification of the dark and fearful side of human existence as well. The card could just as well show Mara, Mogwai, Tezcatlipoca, Set or any other name you can find in a basic Google search

I wonder what would be on this card if it had been invented in modern, diverse culture like ours. Hitler? Guns? War? Pollution? How do you portray absolute evil in a relativistic reality? If I were to make a devil card, my knee-jerk reflex would be to put the NRA, the congressional Republican caucus, oil companies and big-pharma on it. They, in turn, would probably put a secular liberal like me on it. Everyone has their own idea of what, exactly IS evil, what is right, what is wrong…

Despite its classical presentation with the horns and all, The Devil card isn’t about promoting the literal religious definition of the devil (in other words, anyone or anything that disagrees with their particular rules and values). The Devil card is about pragmatism and introspection.

The Devil card is pragmatic: It reminds us that life isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. In reality, violence, murder, assault, illness, poverty, war, destruction, crime, lies, deception, betrayal…on an on…all of those things actually exist. The Devil card reminds us of that. It is a necessary reminder. The Devil card serves a useful purpose, so don’t fear or hate it either. The Devil card reminds us of the real dangers of the world so we can prepare for them…defend ourselves. I always think of it as the “heads up – use your street smarts” card. Forewarned is indeed forearmed.

There is another, more subtle side to this card. The Devil reminds us that we are not all angels. Each of us have our mistakes, weak moments, and human foibles. Denying them serves no good purpose. Facing them, knowing them we can either change them (hard) or work around them so they are kept to a minimum. Only if we are introspective enough to know our dark side, can we hope to learn, grow, overcome weaknesses and learn from our mistakes.

If the Devil card comes to a reading near you – don’t panic. Instead, make sure you aren’t wearing any rose colored glasses, have your keys out, head up, eyes open and don’t walk to your car alone…that sort of thing…both literally and figuratively. Watch your back. Don’t be paranoid…that is part of the dark side too. Be practical, be strong…be pragmatic

If that sort of idea doesn’t fit the reading, or doesn’t feel right…then the other call of this card is to look within. Where are you ignoring your evil side? Where are you indulging your dark side. Who have you done wrong? Do you need to apologize or make amends? Where do you need to learn and grow. Be introspective.

Both aspects of the card require courage. The Devil card exists to bring out the hero within.

Image “