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15 - The Devil

The main figure in this card is the Devil, horned, menacing, often with goat legs, clawed feet, horns and wings. He sometimes has an inverted pentacle on his head, and is generally bare chested, part man, part beast. He usually stands on a pedestal, to which two figures, a naked man and woman, are chained. The figures are sometimes shown with horns, flames or other embellishments, and the Devil often holds a flaming torch.

The Devil card is often misunderstood to be Satan, when in reality, the goat legs indicate more of the Greek idea of Pan or Dionysus, the nature god. As such, the card is less about holding back and resisting the "devil", and more about understanding one’s urges and what they might indicate. The Devil can be a card to help us understand our passions, desires and addictions, and determine how much indulgence is reasonable, and how much is dangerous. Honest reflection on ourselves can indicate that we are embracing to excess those things that give us pleasure, and not spending enough time on that which might empower us to achieve our goals. The Devil is less a card of retribution for "sins" and more a card of understanding our own balance and working towards allowing just enough, but not too much. The Devil can also represent a person influencing our lives- not necessarily someone evil, but someone who can offer temptations that are hard to resist, but might not be in our best interest to succumb to. If there is anything that is presenting itself that seems difficult or impossible to resist, it behooves us to take a closer look at that person or thing, and see what it is telling us about our path, and how we are managing our desires. In some cases, the Devil can simply be the struggle between what we want, and what we know is the right course to take. Finally, the Devil is telling us that temptations are always going to be in our path, and the power to deal with them is within ourselves.

14. Temperance Back to Card Descriptions 16. The Tower