5 Reasons to Love the Devil Card

The Devil, as rendered by Hans Memling in his
The Devil, as rendered by Hans Memling in his “Triptych of Earthly Vanity and Divine Salvation” (1485). It’s true, The Devil is still not exactly viewed as a Disney character, even 500+ years later…but must the Devil always be feared…??

The Devil is one powerful character – there’s no getting around that fact. To borrow liberally from The Glimmer Twins, when you draw the Devil card in a reading, you’ll want to have some courtesy, some sympathy, and some taste. You’ll want to use your “well-learned politesse”…or else The Devil will surely lay your soul to waste. This is one of the most studied, misunderstood, and contemplated figures in the collective human consciousness, and The Devil’s potential hold over us is almost beyond imagining…

But is The Devil necessarily all bad? Does this card portend nothing but pain and woe and soul-searing anguish? Here’s some good news: there’s no card in all the 78 that make up a Tarot deck that’s either all-good or all-bad. Each one covers a full range of meanings, and The Devil is no exception. When this card appears, that fearsomely powerful Devil-Energy can help us with at least five important undertakings:

1)  Learning to Work within Restrictions. Having restrictions is rarely seen as a good thing in our society…but in this world of matter that we inhabit, restrictions are everywhere. Learning to work effectively within them can be a very great and powerful thing. Think about all the ways in which we’re subjugated by the predicament of having a physical form: time and entropy push us constantly toward decay…we can only exist in linear fashion…we require an endless flood of nutrition, and decades of sleep in a lifetime. We bruise, we break, we starve, we suffocate, we bleed… But instead of railing against these immutable facts, The Devil realizes that there can be triumph and glory awaiting anyone who masters the ability to locate, understand, and then work well within limitations. Professional athletes, dancers, musicians, martial artists – these people can’t become exempt to physical laws of nature…but they can maximize their performances within those limitations, thereby pushing the boundaries of human accomplishment ever outward. The Devil can serve as the Fire within that allows for that kind of long-haul excellence, by showing us what can’t be done, and then urging us to discover what still can…

This woodcut from the early 1700's shows us once again that no matter what strata of society you may inhabit...the Devil's got your number.
This woodcut from the early 1700’s reminds us once again that no matter what strata of society you may inhabit…the Devil’s got your number.

2)  Testing Our Inner Strength. The Devil does a terrific job of measuring just how much resolve and integrity we actually possess. For most of us, most of the time, it’s easy enough to engage in self-delusion on these points. A walk-in by The Devil in a reading, though, often indicates that some unavoidable testing of these attributes is upon us. The Devil loves to throw temptation around, and to confront us with our basest urges. And sometimes, it can absolutely be helpful and energizing to give into these urges, too, no question (“Even moderation itself is only useful if employed in moderation,” The Devil might say…). But it’s only when we stumble across something that seriously pushes our buttons – something that forcefully pings our impulses toward power, sex, food, beauty, money, thrills – only then do we know just where we will or will not draw our own lines in the sand. The Devil throws reality right into our faces, knocking us straight out of the hypothetical, and we have to react, for good or for ill. These can be the kinds of revelatory moments in which we learn what we truly are made of.

The Devil knows us better than we know ourselves...
The Devil knows us better than we know ourselves…

3)  Discovering Our Hidden Shadow-Selves. “Hey,” says The Devil, “Meet your Shadow: the parts of yourself that you fear or that you hide away from your conscious attentions…” The Devil lives in the deep, dark places, and so can act as a very effective mediator between those murky nether-realms on the one hand, and the more sunlit climes where we spend most of our waking hours on the other. The Devil can reintroduce us to all those parts of ourselves that our conscious mind has refused to acknowledge. These hidden shadow-selves often represent aspects of our psyches that hold great dominion over our waking lives, and the only way to move ahead in a positive way is to perceive these, accept them, and then integrate them. The Devil can open doors toward exactly this kind of integration-process for us.

4)  Accepting Who We Really Are. Not quite the same as the Shadow-stuff lurking in our subconscious mind, this point has more to do with those aspects of ourselves that we do consciously recognize…and dislike. Trying to avoid the things that displease us about ourselves – our vices, our shortcomings, our weaknesses, any of our physical features that we find unattractive – will only allow these things to have an increasingly strong hold over us… But like a well-meaning loved one staging an intervention, The Devil can dupe us into a locked room, forcing us to come to terms with all of these despair-causing attributes of ourselves that we don’t like, but which we absolutely cannot change. Only by freeing ourselves from the bondage of our self-directed criticisms and obsessions can we reclaim all the energy that’s stuck in those unproductive circuits.

Trump XV:
Trump XV: “Please allow me to introduce myself…”

5)  Exploring New Possibilities. When The Devil appears in a reading, it may be a signal that we’re about to be visited by types of experiences we would normally never encounter. The Devil brings up often unused parts of ourselves, and draws toward us people and forces from out of the Universe that we usually would never have anything to do with. The Devil can be the random element in the system, the Joker in the deck. When we ride shotgun with the Devil, whatever else may happen, we can feel fairly certain that we won’t be slipping into any of the kind of old and well-worn ruts that we might habitually fall into if left to chart our own courses. This won’t always be a good thing, as The Devil isn’t necessarily after a happy ending every time out of the gate…but it’s through this kind of surrender to the forces of chance that we can really expand our horizons and add to our storehouse of experiences. The Devil can help us to grow, and grow greatly, although the process may be a frightening and demanding one at times.

And that’s a huge part of the Devil-lessons right there: learning to recognize when The Devil has taken the wheel, and all you can really do is hang on, and try your best to enjoy the ride…

Interested?  Intrigued?  Bedeviled by Tarot?  Book a reading with me today!

2 comments

  1. I am really loving this “5 Reasons To Love…” series Steve! You always teach me something new about the Tarot cards, particularly taking a balanced view towards cards that at first glance seem overwhelmingly negative. I really like how you talk about the Devil as chance to learn how to work within our earth-bound limitations – I had never thought of that before.

    • Thanks for the kind words, Vickie, and for reading along! I’m happy to hear that you’re finding some thought-food in this series. It’s been a fun but sometimes challenging one to write. I’m running out of these “Dark Majors” at this point, and have been debating if I should do a series of “5 Things to Mistrust about…” some of the generally brighter cards…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s