Arcana in Balance: The Devil



This card is a scary one. But then, life can be scary too, and that is the whole point of the card itself.

Like the Death card, the Devil card has a lot of myth, and fiction and propoganda built up around it. I don’t see it as some demonic occult horror movie sort of thing…it’s worse than that. It has to do with reality.

The reality is that evil exists. Bad stuff really happens and there are criminals, psychopaths, bigots, demigogs and dictators out there in the world. This card brings us face to face with the darkest side of humanity and all the stuff we’d rather not think about. The devil card is Jack Nicolson’s character from the movie “A Few Good Men” screaming out from the Tarot deck “You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth!” The challenge and the lesson of the Devil card is to face the hardest truths, the darkest side of ourselves and the worst of humanity. The balance point of the card is our response to the card. Fact: evil exists. Fact: good exists. The balance comes in how we deal with those realities.

The biggest weight to be balanced is the fear the card and all it represents induces. If we allow our fear to overwhelm us, our life is strangled and sufficated and cut in myriad ways. If we ignore fear, we don’t do what is necessary to protect ourselves and as a consequence we are harmed. Fear out of balance is a lose-lose situation just as much as evil run rampant.

The solution? That’s a tough one. Perhaps outside the depth and realm of Tarot. Tarot is on tool in life’s problem-solving toolkit. Tarot is never the whole answer. Intuition is half the equation, yes, but so is logic and pragmatism. The devil card smacks us in the face with reality, so logic and pragmatism is naturally a big part of the lesson here.

Pragmatic defense and realistic expectations take us a long way down the path of learning from this card. Security and defense, a response balanced to whatever true threats exist. Making up imaginary devils serves no one. Whipping up fear is an evil in itself. We all know the line from Star Wars “fear is the path to the dark side”. Fear can drive people to do things as evil and wrong as the whatever-it-was that caused the fear in the first place. As evidence, consider the “enhanced interrogation”  (torture) by the U.S. While there is, at the time of this writing, some argument (by those who committed the atrocities for the most part) whether it was justified or not…no is denying it happened. Evil exists. The Devil card is right there in front of us. The evil was done out of fear, caused by other evil, stemming from other fears, in a seemingly endless cycle as old as mankind.

Like Doctor Who said “Frightened people…give me a dalek any day”.

Evil exists. Fear exists. Violence exists. But so does courage. Intelligent, wise, balanced proper self defense exists too.

Evil exists. We need to be aware of it, and protect ourselves against it, yes. But over-reacting and giving in to fear only creates more evil. Two wrongs don’t make a right. The Devil card is a call to reality, reason, calm and courage, not a portenet of certain doom or reason to run. It is a reminder of the good that exists in balance to the evil, that light and dark both exist.

Violence at the hands of a devil or at the hands of a self-rightous zealot is violence just the same. This cards is a call to deal with that unpleasant reality and to balance light and dark, good and evil, in a balanced place of courage and reason.



There is always violince and scary things in the news. Bad things happen. Sometimes they are international incidents. Sometimes they are a cranky person at work, or a reckless driver. Whatever the cause, I wrote #PeaceTarot as an attempt to find a moment of peace, calm, and respite in spite of it all.


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