One of the more dreaded cards in tarot is XV–The Devil. I mean, seriously, just look at that dark, foreboding card. If you didn’t fully understand tarot, yes, it can certainly be a little frightening. So, let’s back up for a minute and explain the meaning of this card from the Rider-Waite deck and take a look at other decks.
Your immediate attention is likely drawn to this hairy half man and half beast figure sitting on a throne. The bat wings and horns are reminiscent of childhood nightmares. The palm of his right hand has the symbol of Satan and in his left hand is a flaming torch, symbolic of hell. The Devil sits there representing the possibilities of human existence with no signs of spirituality.
The more frightening part is that humans (a man and a woman) are chained at the Devil’s feet. The man’s tail is flaming and is symbolic of carnal knowledge while the woman’s tail is the fruits of human knowledge. But here’s the thing… If you look closely you can also see that the chains around each of their necks are loose enough that if they wanted to; if they were more aware of their choices, they could easily slip out of them. Herein lies the message. What you perceive is not Reality. You have lost your way.
In Angel Tarot and Fairy Tarot cards, the card is renamed 15-Ego. In Angel Tarot we see the Dreamer (Fool) also chained and unable to move but what holds him back is a pot of gold, which symbolizes earthly concerns and worldly fears about lack. His mask shows that he is not seeing clearly. He has taken a wrong turn and is lost to himself and his purpose in life. In Fairy Tarot we see a male fairy and a female fairy standing before a traditional Celtic Beltane Fire where a sacred ceremony is conducted to release the old and welcome the new.
So what’s the lesson? What does this all mean? First, heaven and hell exist here on earth and are states we experience in our human lives. We don’t need to die to this world to experience either. We all have experienced a dark time in our lives when depression or grief seemed unbearable. The loss of loved ones, the loss of a job, financial woes, romantic breakups, and many others. At these times it feels like we are (and rightly so) in hell. But, as the resilient beings we are, we have come out of these dark times in our lives and have experienced heaven in the the birth of a child brought into this world, in the butterflies we experience when we meet our life partner, in the peace we feel when we watch the sun rise or set.
There are times when we focus too much on earning money, making a living and life becomes a rut. We start to feel trapped and we lose our way. We are so caught up in living our day-to-day lives in our human existence that we forget we are spiritual beings and have a much bigger purpose in life. The 15 card is a call to step out of the material chains that we feel holding us down. Release worry, fear, guilt, and blame. Step out of ignorance, overindulgence or materialism as these are holding you down. The Devil represents an abuse of power, corruption, and overindulgence. This is a card reminding us to step back, see the chains and then release them.
This card, like all tarot cards, is not a prediction of what will happen, but what can happen. It is a call to wake up and see life from a different perspective. Take the chain off of your neck and remember the spiritual being you are. One good way to do this is to do something for others. This way you take the focus off of the little self and onto the bigger Self. In the Power Tarot deck, the card is 15-Decision. That is the wake-up call. We all have a choice and perhaps you have made some bad choices that have left you feeling drained, exhausted and a victim of life circumstances. But you are not a victim; you have a choice. Any limitations you may feel are self-induced. Break free of the negative thinking that is holding you back. Remember your truth–that you are a spiritual being, living a human life. Brush off those wings and soar back into life. Ask Archangel Jophiel for assistance releasing any addictions, dependencies, or temptations. Jophiel is the archangel who helps with positive emotions and thoughts. Call upon her to help with positive thoughts about yourself, your life, or the world.