In The Devil card we see the Angel Auriel (Light of God) perched on a block, above two figures, again, the man and woman from the Lovers card, however now it seems their relationship has degraded. He holds a staff or scepter which is on fire and igniting the woman’s “tail”, which is another symbol for their animalistic desires. The Devil card represents materialism, and any desires we have, making us slaves to them. Drug addictions, alcohol abuse, food addictions, porn, smoking and gambling, all fall under this card.
But if we look closely at this card, we can see that the chains around the necks of the couple are actually quite lose, symbolizing that we ourselves, control when we want to break free. We can choose to lift the noose off of our necks, though sometimes that will require some hard work on our end. Many times, even though it is causing us problems, we are receiving some sort of joy or pleasure from what we are doing, and don’t necessarily want to stop. This is the hallmark of an addiction.
You may feel you are trapped in a negative situation, and likely are feeling a sense of despair that you are at the mercy of another and there is no way for you to see your way out. Don’t despair, there IS a light at the end of this tunnel! Right now something is holding you down. It could be a very tumultuous relationship, or a job that is not good for you but you feel you desperately need right now. There could be a person making you feel like you have no other options, or it could be an addiction of some kind, be it drugs, alcohol, food or sex. The truth is that you only THINK you are being constrained by these outside forces. In reality, we must choose to open our eyes, accept responsibility for any part we may have had in it, and consciously choose to work on getting on the right path, even if it is difficult. The bottom line is you have to want it. There is a lesson here, and lessons are never easy. Although you may have to face some things you would rather not deal with, the trade-off is that you will be able to liberate yourself from something that is a fate worse than that. Slavery.
This could also be a wake-up call that you are becoming too materialistic, or obsessed with things that serve a heady purpose, but not your best interests. This is another kind of slavery, a slave to the money, or the lifestyle. Do not allow yourself to constantly feel the need to be “keeping up with the Jones’”.
In a relationship, this could signify an issue with co-dependency. You feel that you can’t live without the other person, or that no one else will really get you, or you don’t want to have to start over with someone new; all of the reasons that we stay in something other than the only reason that our soul ever really should, which is that we truly love the other person from a place of wholeness and good, and honestly just want to be in that person’s space and have them in ours, because it lights up our hearts. There are so many other reasons people stay in a degraded relationship, with the Devil card it could also be because of the money and property (materialism) or maintaining our image to others.
In any of the above cases, ask yourself what you are actually getting out of the situation vs. what you are giving up to be in it. It may seem like what you are getting is something you really want, but take a minute and think about how it actually makes you feel most of the time, or what you have to sacrifice to have it. You may feel like you couldn’t possibly live without it, but when you get past the initial pain of giving up whatever it is that you are so tied to, you may be surprised to find how good (and free) you actually feel.
On a more mundane level, the figure on this card also represents Pan, the god of nature or the wild. He is depicted as a goat and was typically known to have festivals where there was plenty to eat, wine to imbibe in, and sex. This card could simply be a signal that you are going overboard with your hedonistic tendencies as of late and need to reign it in. As a goat, he is also associated with the sign of Capricorn, the sign of hard work, and this too, can be a bad habit. It can signal that your over-materialistic desires or lifestyle are causing you to be a slave to the job.
The Devil Reversed
With the appearance of The Devil reversed, we can feel liberated. It signifies that you are no longer willing to be a prisoner to whatever is making you feel restrained. Now is the time to release the ties that bind. Look closely at what you feel may be constricting you. You will notice that it is in your power to remove the chains that weigh you down, and you are likely already recognizing this. You are already aware that you don’t need to remain stuck in a situation that is not good for you any longer. You may have already started taking some steps to get yourself back on your feet and in command of your own ship.
The main difference between this card, and the upright, is that in the upright, you are still stuck in the negative pattern, whereas in the reverse, you recognize it and are now actively taking steps to break the chains. Some examples of this constricting situation could be an unhealthy relationship that you realize is taking more from you emotionally then it is giving, and you begin to make decisions about how to correct that. It could be that you leave the relationship, or it could also be that you seek help. In this case either way, it is the troublesome pattern that you break.
You could be seeing a nutritionist and coach to help you break your addictive food behaviors, such as emotional over-eating. It could even be that you are quitting smoking, or giving up alcohol. Another example would be dropping that corporate job that pays well but keeps you confined to a desk and sucks away your soul, in favor of moving to the country and living on less to freelance from home. This is the time to finally break free, and the appearance of this card, implies that you are on your way to doing just that.