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"To curse or hex this person would give me some sort of petty satisfaction but it will not solve the situation. At best, it will make her shitty circumstances that led to that moment even shittier, and I will feel some sort of smug accomplishment. At worst, it has no effect and I’ve just revelled in my misery and dwelt on this moment for even longer than necessary." -The Chaos Witch
Hi, James! Love your posts - well most of 'em lol. I'm an amateur reader just about to start into business doing Tarot readings. It seems I'm quite talented by the feedback I've already received. I'm just wondering: as you're clearly another guy in a seemingly female dominated field, is there any advice you can give me starting out?
|The shaving mafia is cutting into your bottom line.|
Maintaining our Pagan identity does not require clergy. It does require people who are intelligent, educated, experienced, and dedicated to their religion and to its long-term success. And it requires the respect of the practitioners – not to follow the “experts” blindly, but to carefully consider what they have to say, especially when dealing with challenging issues.
|The Last Judgement (detail)|
Jacob de Backer
In the moment of divination, all cards can speak in a variety of surprising ways. Typically, though, Major Arcana 15 can speak to me of a few specific things. I see the final seven numbered cards of the Major Arcana as the path to spiritual enlightenment. Therefore, card 15, the Devil, is the gatekeeper of that journey. No one becomes enlightened without confronting their Devil. What is it, then, to confront the Devil? The Devil can speak of our addictions, our emotional illnesses, and our obsessions. Often this card appears for people with mental or physical health problems, or to discuss the ravages of alcohol, drugs, food addiction, sex addiction and other unhealthy attachments. Sometimes this card can reveal our baser nature, that is, our tendencies toward greed, selfishness, and shallowness. When we confront the Devil, we see our own shadow self, or the shadow self of someone we love. We acknowledge our weakness, or lack of well-being. From there, we often have the option and ability to make changes and heal. From there, we always have the ability to take the journey toward our own spiritual enlightenment.
There are two I find really poignant. In Spiral Tarot, by Kay Steventon, the Devil holds up a mirror for a woman to see herself. She recoils in horror, uncomfortable with what she sees. In the Robin Wood Tarot, we see a chest of treasure that is trapped, along with two people. It is possible for the people to be freed, but they cannot take their treasure with them.
So, this is a loaded question during the US political season, isn’t it? I am going to say that the Devil is the news media – creating for us an unhealthy reality that doesn’t truly exist, and making it difficult for us to know what is really true.
In many ways, we are all the Devil, in that we are all spiritual beings having a human experience, and the Devil is, in some ways, the earthy epitome of that human experience. So, I will say this. I am the Devil, and I do my best to stay slim, to be healthy and to stay in a space of compassionate detachment. My inner Devil wants me to eat chocolate, sleep too much, skip the gym and get drunk. My inner Devil wants me to care too much about things I cannot change. My inner Devil wants me to be afraid. Every day, I acknowledge and honor myself as Devil, but choose not to let that part of myself do the steering (most of the time).
The Devil is definitely one of the more multi-faceted cards for me. Along with the more traditional view, I sometimes interpret this card as associated with all-consuming addictions or a sense of being enslaved by forces either internal or external. For me, this card shows up a lot when I'm dealing with resistance, or feeling blocked and uncreative, or refusing to look at the big picture in a given circumstance. But in a more holistic view, I sometimes interpret this card in a more irreverent way. Mainstream culture generally condemns the archetype of the devil as bad, scary and evil. I think this card can ask us to examine WHY we condemn certain things as "wrong." The Devil can be that fresh-blooded force that turns our assumptions around, that causes us to actively check-in with our moral compass instead of just letting it run on auto-pilot. Sometimes the things that we think are wicked are actually just repressed by an overzealous society.
I wanted to say something more unique but I have to go with the good old Waite-Smith version. The Baphomet imagery hits such visceral notes for me, and combined with the naked, chained, tail bearing humans and the dark background, the card doesn't hold back. It packs a punch!
|Good old Baphomet as featured in the well-known Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot.|
Oh jeez, there's way too much low hanging fruit right now for this question. You know, I think Hillary Clinton is actually a pretty interesting example. She's famously loathed, and she's done some things that have been largely perceived as devilishly unscrupulous. But I'd argue she's also kind of a bad-ass who has done some pretty cool, if controversial stuff (pushed for unprescribed access to the morning after pill, for one thing). Like the Devil, she's complex and not easily defined as "good" or "evil."
I see the Tarot cards as reflections of the human psyche, and I think we all have an "inner Devil" just as we have an inner Hermit or an inner Fool. I will say that I don't think Devil energy is one of my primary modes of being, but I do let my inner Devil roam wild every now and then. If I were REALLY to let that Devil energy come out, I think what I'd most likely do is some light-hearted trolling of religious fanatics. I mean, I wouldn't want to TORMENT them or anything, just poke a little fun. That may sound terrible, but to me the Devil shows that part of us that simply wants to rebel and embody our OWN version of freedom.
As with all the cards, interpretations can go into many directions. In personal readings, I see the Devil as an indication that I am spending too much money or buying too much stuff. On the mythic scale, the Devil depicts the hero’s descent into underworld. Joseph Campbell viewed this as the journey we take into the unconscious mind to discover our strengths during a moment of helplessness. Campbell also viewed it as our coming to terms with our dark or negative self. So, with this in mind, the Devil, while challenging, can in the end result in something positive in terms of self-development. Some other things that the Devil means for me is blockage, ignorance and fear.
The Devil in Ciro Marchetti’s Gilded Tarot Royale, because come on look at that body!
|The Devil from Ciro Marchetti's Gilded Tarot Royale|
Just about any politician, take your pick. Why? Because politicians feed the public fear and the Devil is about fear, playing on your fears and manipulation.
My first answer is NSFW ;)
We are talking about the tarot card here, right? Because if not, then we don't have time for my answer. The thing about me and tarot is I can't divorce it from its medieval roots. I know some can and do, I just can't. Blame it on my inquisitive bent that always wants to know why and my fascination with human culture and sociology, but I trace things back to the beginning, or as close to it as possible, and then see how said thing was viewed in its current time. I then bring that view to the present and adapt it for modern use.
The Devil, in medieval times, was a foul creature that fucked up pretty much everyone and everything by cunningly tempting people to be their own undoing. Master of illusions and manipulation, Lord of the Material World, the Devil was a mixture of ancient tribal belief and religious, specifically Christian, teaching. The Devil, although present in pre-Christian and even pre-Judaic literature and art, was truly fleshed out by the early Christians. By medieval times, Devil depictions had transformed into a hideous and deformed shadow of Pan, Baphomet, and other pagan deities. I find this truly fascinating because the Greeks' dualism and early Judaic teachings state that each of us have these characteristics within us, the evil and the good. But somehow the Devil became an entity in his own right by 70 AD, a sovereign being outside of the self that tempts the soul to do bad things to gain more souls for Hell to get back at God for some unknown prehistoric slight. Fate itself is personified in medieval art, and in tarot (The Wheel) as are the Virtues, or many of them -- Justice, Temperance, Love, etc. It's also notable that the Devil, sequentially, comes right on the heels of Temperance as if to say too much moderation can be a bad thing. Just god damn funny, tarot is.
Taking the medieval Devil and bringing him into 21st century tarot means seeing the very scary and ugly side to human existence, the one they could not own as part of themselves. The card brings to mind the crazy things we do to ourselves in our striving to "be good" and then radically failing because we really are depending on some outside force to either keep us motivated or blame our downfall on. It centers around the theme of taking responsibility for oneself. The Devil, to me, represents many other themes -- rationalizing poor choices, obsession, self-absorption, addiction, etc. In action, it's usually taking a good thing too far. And these issues usually have psychological or emotional roots, but they demonstrate themselves in a physical way with very real, material consequences. What's deceptive about it is that the "things" being indulged in are not in themselves negative or harmful -- usually. It's the way in which they are practiced and the justifications and rationalizations that follow. Damage is done primarily to the one dancing with the Devil, but also to many others as collateral damage, side victims.
Can't choose just one! I have two that come to mind immediately. First, Tarot of Durer By Giacinto Gaudenzi. This not only depicts a pretty authentic medieval Devil in form but also symbolizes the custom of scapegoating -- the Hebrew Saʿir La-ʿazaʾzel, means “goat for Azazel," one of the fallen angels in the book of Enoch. It highlights the "personal responsibility" theme and the false idea that we can place the blame for our own misdeeds on someone or something else. Below the picture is the word "Malefaber" which means "contriving evil, cunning, crafty, insidious." The part animal, mostly human being with secondary sexual characteristics of both male and female indicates this tendency is found in both male and female humans and is an "animal" impulse -- we expect more from ourselves.
Another favorite Devil is by Ciro Marchetti in his Gilded Tarot. This guy is hot. A horny Captain America. On the practical side, medieval depictions of the Devil often take a lot of historical and even Biblical backstory to really understand (like who else could readily see the scapegoat imagery in the other card but someone like me -- history and religious symbolism geeks?) whereas this image is not at all hard to understand even though it also is rife with symbolism. Funny, Ciro admits didn't even know that much about tarot when he designed this deck but this card is, to me, one of the most profound even in its Harlequin romance novel-ish imagery. The Pentacle in the background alludes to the idea that the Devil is earthbound and Lord of the Material Realm. You can't tempt someone with repulsiveness, so the allure of the attractive naked physical body, the dangerous seductiveness of the flames along with the secretiveness of the helm that covers his eyes so not only does he not see you but you can't see his true identity either. It's really quite packed with meaning.
|The Devil as featured in the Tarot of Durer|
You would have to ask this in an election year. It would be too easy to point to Donald Trump --but only in the way that others before him and others after him will continue to enable others to indulge in scapegoating, blame, and abuse of the Other. He's not the least bit attractive, but he legitimizes what some people already do and want to do and I think that is tempting and attractive to many people -- to not give a shit about others you perceive as the cause of one's problems. But I think the Devil is more subtle than Trump and could even be someone promoting ideas such as Bernie Sanders campaigned on -- as much as I like him and agree with him, his supporters also felt justified in blaming and harming others. I honestly don't think the Devil can be personified like that. We all have these impulses and have all fallen to them. The whole culture we live in is a big mirror that reflects the Devil in all of us as well as the Gods/Goddesses we all are. The 24 hour profit driven cable news networks, the newspapers, etc. all have a stake in creating dependence and followers, so these are very Devil-like attributes. At the same time, social media has connected us in ways we couldn't be before and has played a real part in holding people, businesses, law enforcement and even ourselves responsible for our actions in real time. The Devil is woven throughout because he is us.
I am. And I would tell myself to go ahead and eat that chocolate cake because it's been a long, hard day and I deserve it. To hell with the gym and while you're at it light up another cigarette. Relax. It can wait until tomorrow. My personal demons.
Well, the Devil is a card I've grown fond of with time. I feel very appealed for all its complex implications. To be honest, first thing that comes to my mind when I see the Devil is rough, animal sex, the kind of crazy sex that creates a bond, though not always the healthiest; however, its implications go above and beyond that. The Devil is sexy, is inappropriate, sometimes toxic but it feels so good. To me it represents our guilty pleasures, but also the ties that hold us back but are so damn difficult to get rid of because we actually enjoy them.
The Devil is the toxic relationship we are tied to because we become addicted to the emotional rollercoaster, the shitty job we don't dare to leave because it is what pays the mortgage at the end of the month, the lifelong friend we can't stand anymore but we appreciate and the victimization we enjoy because it feels good to be the "poor me" and wake up the compassion of our surroundings.
Some people compare the Devil to a cancer, but I differ, for it is not something we can get rid of. Being "on terms" with the Devil is pretty much our own responsibility. To me, it is not the cancer, but more like smoking, something we could just stop doing if we had the guts for it. In a nutshell: The Devil is tempting, but it doesn't point to our head with a gun, we go there by our own will, and we are as free to leave. If we truly want to.
Yes, of course I do! My all times favourite Devil card is the one from The Housewives Tarot. It is just perfect and it speaks a lot to me. What a better depiction of the Devil that one that stays away from mysticism and woo-woos and dare to show the real, simple, and daily stuff we become addicted and sometimes dependant to? The Devil is a sexy brownie who smokes, as simple as that, and yet as complex. It is one of the funniest and rawest depictions I've ever seen. There's no emotional blackmail, there are no promises, it is just us and our vices, whether we like it or not.
First thing I thought was Donald Trump, but then I realized he is neither that handsome, nor that smart. I think this is the most difficult question here... I think it would be more like a shopping channel or the Tarot reader's show at 3 a.m. Something that gives you your dose and sucks the hell out of you without reporting any true benefit.
This one is short and simple. Minding my own business and partying like hell!
I always see the Devil as depicting our shadow side. As with everything, I find it advisable to acknowledge our dark and light side, so the card can concern letting your hair down, enjoying yourself, and embracing your animal instincts. However, when we allow ourself to become controlled by these things, the card can take us out of balance. This is when it highlights difficulties for a lot of people.
The one which always comes to mind is from Robin Wood Tarot. Within the image is an illustration of a monkey carved onto a treasure chest. The monkey has its hand inside a trap. It could easily escape by letting go of the treats within its grasp but with his fist clenched it is the wrong shape to pass through the opening and he is eventually caught by hunters. The version shows how we can become trapped by greed or choose to not walk away from those things which are really not helping us.
|The Devil as featured in the Robin Wood Tarot.|
Sorry, the detail is too small to show the monkey Mr. Bright described.
Within the news, I cannot think of any one person who would resemble the Devil. However, I feel he could describe anyone who is attracted to power for the wrong reasons - to manipulate or control.
Like many cards within the tarot, I think that the Devil can be misunderstood and unnecessarily feared. With that in mind, if I were the Devil, I'd probably entice a couple of fellow pleasure-seekers and go and indulge in all of those things I've given up over the past four years!
I interpret the Devil as self-indulgent defilements that tether us to suffering. It represents that which we must renounce in order to break free and be truly liberated from the cyclical nature of what it means to be human.
I don’t have a favorite, but I’d like to share three versions of Key XV—from the Hezicos Tarot by Mary Griffin, The New Golden Dawn Ritual Tarot by Chic and Tabatha Cicero, and the Celestial Tarot by Kay Steventon and Brian Clark.
I’m intrigued by the enduring depiction of the Devil as a horned goat-god and in the majority of versions, such as you see in the Hezicos Devil and The New Golden Dawn Ritual Tarot, the depiction of human bondage. It’s not my favorite but I’m intrigued by such imagery because the allusion to the satyr is more about indulging in physical pleasures, which of course suggests that we associate physical pleasure with defilement and suffering, and that to me is interesting, because that is a current of philosophical thought in both Western and Eastern religion.
I have no idea. The Devil card touches upon an internal struggle and to me, it isn’t necessarily an indication of public persona. I don’t know anybody in the news well enough to know if they’re going through a “Devil-card-internal-struggle-that-tethers-them-to-suffering,” so I don’t want to make uneducated assumptions.
By that, do you mean if I were to embody the archetype of the Devil while retaining my consciousness and character or if I were to diverge from who I am now and become someone who is my interpretation of the Devil? If the first, then I would try to exorcise those demons and work conscientiously at transcendence to evolve out of that archetype, and if you meant the latter, then knowing me, I would aspire to be the best, most powerful, most notorious Devil there ever was.
The Devil card in tarot is one of the most complex and interesting cards in the deck. The Devil shows up for many different situations and has a depth that few other cards match in complexity, as well as conflicting interpretations. When the Devil appears in relationship questions He can usually mean either an affair, or in a relationship wherein there is a heavy sexual-obsessive component to the relationship. Conversely, the Devil can also just mean a very hot and steamy relationship where sexual boundaries are being explored and pushed.
The Devil can also mean an addiction or depicting someone who is an addict. The Devil can also mean for me the 'devil on your shoulder,' basically your inner critic, pointing out the things you are doing wrong or talking you into doing things that do not jive with what you have been told you should do, or believe is true about yourself.
Finally, the Devil can also appear when the message is to undertake 'devil's play' and push your own boundaries, take risks, reorganize what you believe right or wrong or decorum or living a full life may mean for you. The Devil is one of the most fascinating cards in the deck and I do not think He gets nearly enough airtime for all the things He can signify and mean.
I really like the Devil in Baba Studio's Romantic Victorian Tarot. It is a lovely woman with bat wings holding a snake and roses, at her feet lies a pile of gold and she has a welcoming smile. I like this depiction because I believe that the Devil looks like us, and is very much an aspect of who we are as people. The Devil is temptation, the old Christian archetype of will versus desire but I think we need to push out of that dynamic. The Devil to me is about negotiating and finding a balance. Seeking pleasure, being okay with pleasure and living a life that is undeniably human with its vast urges; to seek making a relationship with those aspects of it without having to go to war with ourselves for it.
|The Devil as featured in the Victorian Romance Tarot|
Every Pharmaceutical company convincing people they need their drugs on TV. But, then, that might be unfair to the Devil.
Who says that I'm not? ;)
I read the Devil as an external agent of chaos, destruction, and disorder that is forever outside anybody's control. The Devil cannot be controlled or directed, only experienced. And while the Devil may cause you to experience confusion and anxiety or even bring wanton violence and cruel invasion against everything you hold dear and have built for yourself through the application of your iron will, the Devil also destroys what's weak. Oliver Goldsmith famous said, "Be not affronted at a joke. If one throw salt at thee, thou wilt receive no harm, unless thou art raw." I don't consider the Devil to be a joker - there's nothing funny about the withering force of its fell hand - but in the spirit of Oliver Goldsmith, the Devil prunes the weak. The strong will survive unscathed, and the vacuum occupied by the weak will be replaced by something new and youthful. All things whose time have passed will perish, and new life will emerge to replace the forcefully retired. I'd call my Devil the Grim Reaper, but it is not merely death - it is the lack of certainty and the absence of sure outcomes. Anything may happen - hold tightly to what you love and cherish, but don't be surprised when you lose hold of it. Nobody and nothing are immune to change.
My favorite depiction of the Devil was illustrated by Salvador Dali in his Tarot Universal. In this illustration, a dark, androgynous figure holds a chained butterfly. Presumably expecting to be carried into flight by a captured fantasy, the figure steps into the void completely ignorant of the hands which push it into the abyss. This is the chaos of which I speak: the person featured in this illustration is not the Devil, but is instead somebody disrupted by the Devil. Instead of flying into fantasy with illusory wings, the figure falls into the abyss. "The best laid schemes of mice and men," and what not. Because I read the Devil as the polar opposite of the Chariot, the Devil embodies a complete loss of control and inability to steer affairs in any direction at all due to factors totally outside your control. The Devil is a pusher - what'll you find after you pick yourself up from the fall?
|The Devil as featured in the Tarot Universal by Salvador Dali|
Yes... I would have to ask this during an election year, wouldn't I? This is a surprisingly difficult question! Because I read the Devil as somebody or something that is subjected to chaos and disarray and has a complete inability to achieve deliberate ends, the nearest approximation of the Devil that I see in the news is Hillary Clinton. Now, let me make a few qualifications: I do not believe that Hillary Clinton is the Devil, nor do I believe she's possessed by the Devil. Instead, it's more accurate to say that I think she's bedeviled, or struggling with disorder. You might have thought that I'd say Donald Trump is the Devil, but he doesn't seem bothered by the volatile twists and turns of the campaign at all - truth told, he seems to thrive on it.
Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, struggles to dominate the media cycle; is frequently on the defensive against the most incredible lies you can imagine; is often doing damage control against Donald Trump; and generally failing to steer her presidential chariot anywhere she wants it to go. Perhaps this will change after the debates, but for now Hillary Clinton and her presidential campaign are the epitome of the Devil card: confused, disordered, attacked, disarrayed, and scattered as a result of outside interference.
If I were the Devil as described, I'd probably be a lost, impoverished, and damaged person. Well, to be honest, I'd probably be a lot like I was when I was struggling with un-diagnosed and un-managed mental health issues, and that was a pretty sad part of my life. But as deeply depressing as that period was, it was a pivotal time in my life that put a lot of wheels in motion which, taken as a whole, brought me to where I am today. I'm not saying that I enjoyed that period of my life, or that I think there's any value in suffering, but I am saying that without those deeply negative and unpleasant experiences, I wouldn't have as strong a sense of direction and appreciation for urgency that I do today. So I suppose all of that is to say, If I were bedeviled, I'd work very hard to find a way out of it.
But, I guess this raises the question: if my Devil of the Tarot is only a representation of chaotic force being applied to an affair, then from whence comes this devilish influence? Since I read the Devil as the complimentary opposite of the Magician, then the answer lies there: the Magician is he or she whose work is called the Devil by those subjected to the Magician's influence. Clearly, it's better to be the one who works the magic than the one worked upon by the magic. Here's to all the magicians doing the devil's work!