Card Analysis: The Devil

I really, really want to title this blog post The Devil is in the Details, but alas. I’m trying to provide structure for my blog, and now is not the time to use cliches as blog post titles.

Since my deck straight up called me The Devil in last night’s blog post (how rude!), I figured now would be a good time to do a deep dive into this contentious card. Let’s start with a history lesson, shall we?

The Devil’s Fall From Grace

I didn’t grow up with any particular religious structure. My dad was raised Roman Catholic, but decided not to put me through that particular ecclesiastical torture rite of passage because he wanted me to come to a decision on my religious beliefs on my own. That was super cool of him. As it turns out, he also has a lot of not-so-happy feelings about the Catholic Church as a bureaucratic entity these days, but that’s not really the point. I don’t blame him, though.

Anywho, I grew up “Catholic Adjacent” since much of my extended family was Catholic, and I absorbed enough about the Bible and its teachings and lessons from them and my Christian friends. I also read Dante’s Divine Comedy at some point in school, probably because I thought it would make me cool and worldly or something, but tbh I liked it. It was scary and weird and Italian, so it hit all the things I aspired to be as a moody teenager I guess.

So anyway, this is all to say, most of us knew about Lucifer even if we had no strict religious teaching. (If nothing else, most of my generation saw Dogma in the 90s/2000s). Lucifer was an angel who grew so prideful that he challenged God and fought him until God was like “lol no bye!” And so Lucifer was kicked out of Heaven and became Satan.

Satan then started going around enticing people to sin and ruling over Hell and there rest, as they say, is history.

What The Hell Does This Have to Do With Anything?

I don’t bring this up just to like flex my knowledge of Satan on y’all. Knowing The Devil’s backstory helps in interpreting this card. Seriously.

When The Devil shows up in a spread, you must think about his whole story. He was once an angel, but he grew so full of pride, that he lost his place in Heaven. His sin grew so strong that it overtook his will.

So, what habits do you have that might be disruptive to your goals or your life? What toxic behaviors can be addressed? Are you being dragged down into negativity by pride or greed or envy (or one of the other 7 Deadlies)?

Look, we’re all human. It’s in our nature to sin. That doesn’t make us evil, nor does it make us unworthy of forgiveness or of having good things in our lives. The act of recognizing when the negative habits or behaviors start to outweigh the positives is actually one of the best acts of self-care we can manifest. When we are faced with The Devil, we shouldn’t be afraid–we should be thankful for the opportunity to better ourselves.

Is That It?

Of course not! The Devil isn’t only about sin or bad habits: Another part of Satan’s story is how he challenged authority. And not just any authority–he challenged The Ultimate Authority. He  fought The Law and The Law won.

If it wasn’t clear, The Law = God.

Another way I like to interpret The Devil, depending on the spread and the context within the reading, is that it might be time to challenge authority or the status quo. Maybe it’s time to let loose a little, shake your hair out, stop worrying about being perfect all the time. Sometimes we set impossible standards for ourselves, and we almost always fail to meet them. Instead of trying to fall in line with unbelievably high standards, maybe it is just time to meet ourselves where we are.

Don’t let perfection be the enemy of good enough in your life. Have a little fun sometimes, you know? As long as you’re not hurting anyone, it’s OK if you aren’t “perfect” all the time. The Devil is not necessarily here to tempt you into evil, but maybe into, you know, throwing a party or something.

Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby

If you take a look at this card, you’ll see some familiar faces: The Lovers, from earlier in the Major Arcana. If you look closely, they don’t appear as though they have been dragged to Hell as a punishment. Yeah, they have chains around their necks, but they hang loosely. And each lover has horns and a tail. They’re a little devilish, no?

To put it bluntly, sometimes The Devil can be about exploring another side of your sexuality. Fetishes, kinks, that one thing your lover wants to try that you’ve been on the fence about but you know it will really make his jaw drop if you do it. It could be time to put it all on the table–or, um, bed? Or table, I guess, if that’s your thing. Floor, couch, whatever, wherever, whenever. Get it, folks!

The Devil Reversed

Reversals are tricky. Each Tarot reader has his or her own way of interpreting these (idk, maybe some just memorized the little booklets or took classes, but that seems…. eh), and I don’t have a standard way of interpreting reversals outside of the context of a reading. Each card has a story to tell, and each reading has a story to tell, and sometimes The Devil might be hanging out upside down in your reading because someone is particularly sexually inhibited or maybe they’re feeling really dark and down.

The way I often see reversals is that something is blocking the thing that card would say if it were upright. So if The Devil were trying to tell you that there are some really bad habits that might be in need of attention, the flip side of that might be that you are too far into those habits to be able to identify them. You are super down and dark right now, and lost in melancholia. You might be in the throws of depression or addiction. Maybe now is the time to seek help. (If this resonates with you, please know that there are places to go and people to talk to.)

If The Devil might have been trying to say now is the time to let loose, perhaps he is reversed because there are too many hangups and inhibitions present.

Regardless, if you find yourself faced with The Devil upright or reversed, now is the time for serious introspection. But do not be afraid. While this period of self-assessment is never easy, it is usually very worth it.

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