XV- The Devil
Associated Astrology: Capricorn
Key words: Negativity, Self-Pity, Addiction, Childhood Conditioning, Entrapment, Tenacity, Habit, Disassociation, Bondage, Repetition, Reactionism, Fear, Materiality
"All the suffering, stress and addiction comes from not realising you already are what you are looking for" - Jon Kabat-Zinn
Welcome to the Devil Card. Try not to think of him as the dark lord of a hellish subterranean realm! Instead, think of him in terms of battling inner demons and embedded habits. With him comes the requirement of focused self-discipline and the responsibility of walking our talk. We are being asked to commit to a version of our self we are truly proud of. To win through we must be able to acknowledge we are in the driving seat of our lives, and not at the mercy of fated circumstances.
Unquestionably, the greatest challenge this card brings is reclaiming our personal responsibility. Our society is frequently playing the blame game, which lives squarely in the Devil's domain. It is a devilish voice that says, 'If you hadn't done X, I wouldn't have done Y' or 'You're responsible for my lack of self-control, my pain, my unwise decisions, or personal failure! You provoked me, challenged me, questioned me, upset me'. This is the voice of the victim, the philanderer, the false prophet and the manipulator. We all have these voices and have all employed these bargaining techniques at one time or another. Now we must stop responding to them.
Perhaps we have chosen what appeared to be an easier option and now find life is harder because of it. Maybe we have been fickle or overlooked the significance of our involvement in situations that have caused us distress.
Perhaps we are intimidated and have compromised ourselves by inviting negative voices into our psyche like unhappy guests! Likewise, we can kick them out as well!
In fact, the Devil is encouraging us to change our approach before we do ourselves further damage. Take the metaphorical bow and arrow and shoot those evil elements stone dead! This is a rare but necessary piece of tarot advice.
Everyone knows that a bargain with the Devil is a truly terrible idea! He requires us to have an uncompromising, unyielding stance. If we doubt the need to make total and clean severance with his influence, then we are deluding ourselves. He requires the toughest love of all, and that most challenging of qualities – self-discipline.
So, what does he represent?
Often under this card, we become aware that we are caught in a repeating situation or unhappy emotional state. This can come from childhood or early adulthood conditioning. The Devil attempts to highlight our Achilles heel and asks us to travel back in time to see when we first started feeling this way. To deal with our formative experiences in this regard can often be a death blow to his control.
Whether it be a relationship, substances, money, physical gratification or a mode of behaviour that doesn't serve us, we are being asked to recognise our inner addict. He is Lord of the Gates of Matter in the Thoth deck after all! Escapism is his tag line, and an enormous temptation. Devils are by nature, tempting! They are designed to push our buttons - to jam our switchboard of calm objectivity. That's what Devils do - they long for a reaction - any reaction! They crave attention and they demand priority.
Our servitude to our own personal obsessions, and our attachment to perceiving ourselves (and to managing how others perceive us), are very much ego-rooted. They are not in alignment with our inner truth, or with the reality of our situation.
Maybe we are in a relationship that is eroding our confidence and we are struggling to break free. Often this card comes up when we have karmic ties with another. These are difficult to remove as they may involve us mastering issues that have re-emerged frequently over our life-time – maybe many lifetimes!
If we can acknowledge our root fears in these patterns, we can break free of them once and for all. In his own way the Devil brings an opportunity to recognise that the time has arrived to enter the fray. Conquer the inner elements that find his space so attractive. We may deny this attraction at first, but the Devil doesn’t care. He prefers it that way…our denial is his license to torment.
Break any obligation, guilt, desire or neediness holding you back from our inner joy and personal freedom. Do whatever it takes no matter how brutal it feels.
We need all the tenacity we can muster, and single-minded stubbornness to overcome his lure. If we refuse to see him as anything other than an opportunity to experience spiritual victory, then by hell or high-water – we will win! So, how do we go about this?
Do you hear yourself saying ‘There’s nothing I can do’, ‘It’s up to them’, ‘it’s out of my control’ or ‘it’s too difficult / complicated / fear inducing / guilt making’? These are the voices of our personal conditioning. They are designed to distract you from the truth of who you are. The Devil is here to remind us that our action or inaction is ours alone. The responsibility of the repercussions sits squarely on our shoulders and that’s what makes us adults.
Hard as it may be – we must accept that our situation is a mirror of the state of our inner being. The Devil’s gift is to challenge us to recognise the self-bondage manifest by habitual thinking. No one lacks the power to change – free your mind.
These conflicts are an essential component of the Shadow Self and without them we wouldn't grow. It's part of our learning experience and a rite of passage. We must come to recognise and then to appreciate our Devil, for he highlights the learning only found in adversity.
Life is not to be defined by the voice of our insecurities, or by servitude to any situation that does not bring out the best version of who we are.
Of all the ego elements, self-pity is the wall that requires a spiritual sledgehammer! If we indulge in self-pity, then our freedom will turn to a sense of confinement, joy to negativity and courage to weakness - and the only person responsible is us. Life under this influence will appear to provoke, humiliate and entrap.
It may be that we have taken on specific roles in our life - we have come to define ourselves by them. Now we are in conflict with them – rebelling on one hand, clinging with the other. Why? Well, vanity of course!
The Devil doesn't just victimise us by rendering us childlike or rebellious, he tells us we are the hero, the rescuer, the parental benevolent etc. In this way he is insidious at appealing to our glorified sense of self. We cannot beat him without recognising this flip side to our shadow coin. Our inferiority complex has an equally balanced superiority complex! Our beliefs that we are superior via our maturity, wiser via experience, more compassionate via our concept of love, or the most correct of all can be the real culprits here. Stay modest to avoid danger, or real catastrophe can come calling.
Even if others are behaving devilishly, we must be adamant not to participate in their delusion – after all it is our own devil that pushes us to engage them! He’ll try anything to distract us from our inner peace and clarity - it's his job! We are not responsible for others: their journey is their own experience. To involve self-importantly because we think we know what’s best or because we are somehow indebted, is to extend this influence into a purgatorial space – arguably a great deal worse than hell!
Indulgence in condemnation, pity, frustration or annoyance, even if totally justifiable, will not work either. We should resist these reactionary positions with steely determination. Make no mistake - The Devil is dangerous. He will take full control if we let him. Make a determined decision to stop playing his game and mean it.
The Devil is the very definition of the slippery slope. By the time we realise we have built up momentum we are hurtling at high speed. Stopping immediately is impossible. Instead we must put on the breaks and slow down as much as we can. This gives us time to spot our defective habits of mind and challenge them. We must be committed to the effort it takes to consistently correct ourselves and find a broader perspective in doing so. This requires stepping away from an emotional space. I recommend working with Justice if this is a challenge - she’s great at dispassionate objectivity.
It is perfectly acceptable to break free and run - not from fear but from necessity and self-preservation. Be selfish about your need to withdraw. If you see a chink of light – go for it! Use that escapist energy to your benefit. After all, you ARE the key to your own mental prison.
At best this is a dramatic warning shot across the bow. At worst, it is the chaotic devastation of painful and repetitive entrapment. At the end of the day, it’s our own emotional condition on the line, so we must be doggedly fixed on success.
Keep persevering. We can break this hold because he has no real power over us at all. It’s all an illusion that he’s sold to us as 'real life'.
Positive self-belief, firm consistent effort and decisive severance are the weapons of the spiritual warrior. Your Devil cannot exist when you know his tricks and learn to wield those weapons on your own behalf. Couple that with resolution and a pinch of faith and you hold the commanding antidote to his poisonous voices of doubt and fear.
So, walk away, transform, let go of people who diminish you, break those bad habits you feel defeated by. Don’t feel sad about it. Don’t dwell. Be bold and brave and bloody inspirational to the one person that truly counts – you!