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The Devil

Tarot Card Meanings

Addiction to substances or material pleasures can also be the reason for your feelings of powerlessness and entrapment.
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The Devil Tarot Card Description

The Devil card illustrates Baphomet, also known as the Horned Goat of Mendes, a half-man, half-goat creature. Baphomet was originally associated with the balance of good and evil, male and female, and human and animal; however, in recent years, this figure has been associated with the occult and has become a scapegoat for all things considered ‘evil.’

The Devil has the wings of a vampire bat, an animal that sucks the lifeblood from its prey, which represents what happens when you give in to your primal desires. He has a hypnotic gaze that ‘magnetizes’ and enchants those who come close to him, bringing them under his control.

Above him, there is an inverted pentagram, which represents the darker side of magic and occultism. He raises his right hand in the Vulcan Salute, a Jewish blessing made famous by the Star Trek film series. He has a lit torch in his left hand.

A man and a woman stand at The Devil’s feet, both naked and chained to the podium on which The Devil sits. They appear to be being held against their will, but if you look closely, you’ll notice that the chains around their necks are loose and easily removed. Each has small horns on their head, similar to the devil’s, indicating that the longer they stay here, the more they resemble him. Both have tails, which represent their animalistic tendencies and primal instincts, and the grapes and fire on their respective tails represent pleasure and lust.

NOTE: The Tarot card meaning description is based on the Rider Waite cards.

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The Devil Keywords

 Upright Keywords:
  • Shadow self
  • Attachment, addiction
  • Restriction
  • Sexuality
Reversed Keywords:
  • Releasing limiting
  • Beliefs
  • Exploring dark thoughts
  • Detachment

Upright Devil Meaning

The Devil card represents your shadow (or darker) side, as well as the negative forces that limit and prevent you from being the best version of yourself. Negative habits, dependencies, behaviors, thought patterns, relationships, and addictions may be affecting you. You’ve become trapped between the short-term pleasure you get and the long-term pain you feel. The Devil, like the Lovers card, represents duality and choice; however, with The Devil, you are choosing the path of instant gratification, even if it is at the expense of your long-term well-being. You have effectively sold your soul to the devil!

The Devil card frequently appears when you have been duped into believing that you have no control over your shadow self or these negative forces and that you will never be able to break free from their grip. You believe you require it and must have it, even if it means going against what you know to be correct. Deep down, you know it’s to your detriment, and you’re only hurting yourself (and often others) by giving in to these lower needs and desires. To break free from these negative patterns, you must first recognize their power over you and the impact they have on your life.

When The Devil appears in a Tarot reading, consider it an opportunity to bring these negative influences into your conscious awareness, allowing you to then take action to free yourself from their grip. Shine your light on the negative patterns that have been impeding your progress for so long, and you will gradually loosen their hold on you. Because The Devil is a Major Arcana card, you are unlikely to be free of your addictions and dependencies overnight. It may be a recurring pattern for you, and breaking free from their influence will require a tremendous amount of willpower and strength. But know this: it IS possible, and it is up to you to make it happen.

On the plus side, The Devil can depict a strong bond between two people, such as a mother and her newborn, or a new romance in its ‘honeymoon phase.’ However, with The Devil card, this healthy attachment can quickly turn into an unhealthy, co-dependent relationship if you lose touch with your inner guidance or fail to protect your boundaries.

Sexuality and your wild side can also be represented by the Devil. You could be investigating bondage, fetishes, and your darkest fantasies. It can be a very enriching experience if you can do this in a safe, sacred space. However, it has the potential to devolve into something dangerous or detrimental to your well-being, in the long run, so set clear boundaries, choose your partners wisely, and have your ‘safe words’ ready to go.

Reversed Devil Meaning

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The Devil Reversed frequently appears when you are about to make a breakthrough or level up. You are being called to live up to your full potential, but first, you must let go of any unhealthy attachments or limiting beliefs that are holding you back. When you are called to something ‘more,’ you must often deal with your shadows before stepping into this new version of yourself. It could be an addiction, an unhealthy relationship, or a disinterested career. Let go of fear and any self-imposed limiting beliefs that are impeding your growth. It’s simpler than you think.

Reversed, The Devil encourages you to confront your inner fears and anxieties to break free from the bonds that bind you to your limiting beliefs and unhealthy attachments. Remove anything you know is harmful to you and your inner psyche. It could be as simple as eating healthier, watching less television, quitting smoking, spending more time with family, or focusing more on your goals. Take advantage of this opportunity to effect positive change in your life by remaining focused on the ultimate goal of freedom.

When you are going into your deepest, darkest places – whether you are ready or not – the Devil card can appear in a reversal. When you consciously choose this path, you do so with strength, confidence, and courage. You want to understand your innermost shadows so you can either release them or integrate them more constructively into your life. When you do it unconsciously or with resistance, it can be very confronting because you may realize you are not who you thought you were.

You may experience anxiety or depression, or you may have dark thoughts that are difficult to understand. If this resonates with you, please seek the assistance of a trained therapist to help you work through this difficult time.

The Devil Reversed may also indicate that you are keeping your deepest, darkest self hidden from others. Because you are embarrassed or ashamed, you may have thoughts, fantasies, addictions, or habits that you do not want others to know about. However, keeping secrets can contribute to a growing sense of guilt, and you may feel relieved if you can share your darker self with at least one trusted individual. There is also a need to accept yourself and forgive yourself for your thoughts. Of course, if you are in danger of hurting yourself or others, please seek professional assistance right away.

Finally, The Devil Reversed invites you to practice the Buddhist principle of detachment, which is a state in which you overcome your attachment to the desire for things, people, or concepts in the world and liberate yourself from any constraints. It doesn’t mean you don’t care about people or things; it just means you let go of your reliance on them. A cord-cutting visualization may also help you release any unhealthy attachments to others, especially if The Devil Reversed appears in a Tarot reading.

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