“Shall I tell you what sociology teaches us about the human race? I’ll give it to you in a nutshell. Show me a man or woman alone and I’ll show you a saint. Give me two and they’ll fall in love. Give me three and they’ll invent the charming thing we call “society.” Give me four and they’ll build a pyramid. Give me five and they’ll make one an outcast. Give me six and they’ll reinvent prejudice. Give me seven and in seven years they’ll reinvent warfare. Man may have been made in the image of God, but human society was made in the image of His opposite number, and is always trying to get back home.”
― Stephen King, The Stand
The Devil gets a bad rap.
This card can be seriously misunderstood. I must admit it has taken me a long time to get any kind of semblance on its essence and ultimately its guidance. It is not to be feared but rather to be savoured, rather like a mature wine or a beautiful meal, it is the undertones and the subtleties that bring the greatest appreciation.
I see in the Devil a profound longing to set the bearer free. The gauntlet is thrown to the ground, ‘Get past me if you will, throw the chains and fetters to the ground, dissolve the illusion and restore your flagging spirit, if you have the bottle.’ He whispers in your ear, reminding you of your frailties, your shadow, and the light you don’t want the world to see.
Who or what is the Devil?
An imp from the denizens of hell? A grotesque monster that hides in the dark corners? An apocalyptic adversary? It is entirely possible that he is all of these. The Devil is your ego. It is this archetype that is the false idol who begs to be worshipped and is afraid of the power of the higher mind, the Great Spirit.
The Devil insists that there is a duality. He has unsubscribed from the path of unity because by walking such a path he loses his identity. His grip on the physical plane of existence will hold no sway under unity yet it is his very being that makes the divine to live.
The primordial desire of the psyche is the Devil’s playground.
In a way he is guiding us towards an understanding of the polarities that exist within the human dynamic. He warns against the subjugated will, the repressed spirit, the self-destructive thinking that has the power to create chaos in a wider form. Mutuality, compassion and healing are the antidote, fodder for the soul, but they are also poison to the Devil who refutes integration and the resolution of conflict.
The human condition is capable of all these things. We have the wilderness within from which creeps forth the grim and the warped. We tie ourselves to the illusion of need, lack and want. We pass it onto others like a virus, the appetite for destruction is set, the love that could be our ensign holds no sway, unrecognisable and indistinguishable.
The shadow is but light waiting to be illuminated.
It will bring light to every aspect of our being, shine in every corner, this transformation gives credence to creativity and rebirth. Yet the path towards realisation requires courage and determination. In turn this strengthens the will and provides the spiritual armory. Self-discovery takes patience and humility.
When the Devil turns up in a spread it offers an opportunity to reflect on our fear.
The need to be attached to the temptations of the world and the lack of energy and desire to rise above that which is not useful, beneficial or loving.
This archetype is an aspect of conscious transformation. Perhaps we are being asked to have a dialogue with our own demons, to take a lesson from Strength and harness the beast. Self-awareness is found not in the denial of unwanted personal aspects but in the acceptance of our own dark place that is longing to become part of the whole.
It may be, when this card lands on the table, we are being encouraged to explore the depth of the heart. We are being asked if we want change or not. The fear of the unknown must be faced and confrontation with the source of fear is a step towards real freedom.
The appearance of the Devil signifies challenging circumstances. What are we burdened with?
It can often show us that we are not sure why we behave in a certain way or are unclear as to why we react as we do. By exploring this we can get to know ourselves better and the Devil is no longer personified as the evil creature from the swamp but as a wayfarer and guide. He can remind us that we are too busy looking outward and the eyes of the heart must turn inwards for the answers.
Our dreams lie on the other side of fear.
The questions below are simple guidelines to going within to look at fear and that which holds us back. Maybe you can think of other questions you can add or replace.
What is the issue at hand?
What is my fear around this?
What do I need to let go of?
What can I learn from letting go?
What hinders me from progress?
What will help me?
What is my greatest expression?