The Devil, major arcana card 15, is probably one of the main reasons people sometimes refer to the Tarot as ‘the devil’s tool’. Take one look and you can see why people might be fearful. Most decks depict the Devil card with a horned, cloven- footed half-man, half-beast creature as the main image. He is often shown with two naked individuals who appeared tethered to him by chains.
It is not a pretty picture, and when this card appears, it is not uncommon to believe the individual coming for a reading is suffering terribly as the result of some uncontrolled act of fate. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth.
When the Devil comes up in a reading it suggests the person who pulled the card has issues associated with the ego that are controlling him. When I say ego, I mean the rational mind – the one that limits vision to only what can be seen in the physical world. And this skewed vision is the root of the issue to which the Devil card is referring. When the Devil card shows up, there is a message that tells us the problems this person is experiencing are occurring through no one’s fault but their own.
That’s right! The Devil of Tarot represents the inner mental, physical and emotional addictions by which a person is being controlled. This card also serves as a reminder that tells us when a person chooses to no longer be controlled by these vices, that individual will be free.
Don’t believe me? Take another look at the card. The two enslaved individuals are not living in an existence of want. Rather, they are surrounded by a bounty they have hand-selected. However, in order to enjoy these ‘treasures’ our ‘victims’ must stay tethered to the Devil.
In real life, this could refer to a person who has gluttonous addiction issues because there is frustration with the plight of one’s career or disappointments in one’s love life. Perhaps this person is frustrated with opportunities others have, and he wants, but can’t seem to get. Maybe a decision is made to give up and become slothful because there is the belief of, “What’s the use. I never get any breaks!” There is a certain pay-out that comes from the martyr-mentality which absolves a person from the responsibility of truly owning the outcome of their life.
Maybe it is just the opposite. A person may have a booming career and make lots of money, but has now become a slave to an image that must be maintained in order to continue a greedy or prideful existence. In essence, this person has sold their soul to the devil in trade for an earthly reward.
Regardless of which of these vices a person is experiencing, the Devil represents an inability to stand up to any or all of the Seven Deadly Sins as they unfold in our lives.
The beauty of this card is that despite the menacing image that appears to be in control of the situation, those who are under the influence of the Devil are not victims in the traditional sense of the word. Honestly, they are actually the ones in control. The only reason the Devil has become as powerful as he appears on the card is because the individual gave into ego-based fears and became separated from their true Authentic Selves.
When these people finally decide to take the reins of their lives and move in a direction that is aligned with their higher selves, they will embrace their true power and realize there is no earthly bond that will ever be able to hold them back.