Is the Devil Tarot Card a “Bad” Tarot Card?
Well, that all depends. Every card has its ups and downs. Even if you don’t read reversals, a card may show up in the “obstacle” position on a reading. For example- The Sun as an obstacle may mean you see things with rose-coloured glasses, refusing to accept the truth of unpleasant situations.
The Devil is alarming. And that’s definitely by design. It’s a card that wants to grab your attention. But what is its message?
Let’s Break Down The Devil Tarot Card
If you’ve got a deck in front of you, pull out The Devil and The Lovers. Notice anything? That’s right- these cards are mirror images of each other. I find this to be a crucial aspect of this card. The Lovers is all about choice. These are the choices that serve your “higher self.” The confident self, the self that drinks green smoothies, makes to-do lists, and sends Christmas cards on time. The self where everything feels “right,” like you are aligned with your divine purpose.
The Devil is also about choice. These are the choices that serve the self you may not want to face in the mirror. This is the id, the self that seeks pleasure and instant gratification. The self that over-eats, over-drinks, and texts their ex at 3 am. Here’s the thing- boo-boo, that side of you is part of you. It’s part of your human experience on earth. Perfect angels float around in the sky. Humans learn the lessons and do the work. If you keep trying to ignore this more basic, animalistic part of yourself- it can lash out in all kinds of ways. I’m not saying you should engage in dangerous behaviour; I’m saying you’ve got to examine the “why” behind your temptations and look at healthy ways to address those needs.
Notice that the humans on the card are “shackled,” but not really. They have plenty of room to slip out of their chains if they want to. But they tell themselves they are powerless against their addictions. This is the idea of “the devil you know.” You’re in a situation you don’t like, but at least it’s familiar, right?
So, How Do I Interpret The Devil Card?
Now that we’ve broken it down, what the heck do you do when this spooky-ass card comes up in a reading? First of all-, breathe. You’re ok. Let’s examine the situation. I see The Devil in one of two ways:
You’re in a toxic situation that you think you have no control over. In this case, I always parrot the same advice: Make two columns. In one column, write everything you legitimately have no control over. Give yourself a break on those things. In the other, write everything you can control, and start figuring out actions to take. For example: You have no control over the fact that you need money. So this may mean you’re in a job that you hate. What can you control? Get some resumes out there. Assert yourself and set clear boundaries with your boss and/or co-workers. You may need to brainstorm this with a friend, as it can be hard to see your options when things have gotten hairy.
You’re trying so hard to control your life and your image that you’re missing out on some fun. This card is associated with Capricorn- a sign that will strive very hard for perfection, often to look like a moral authority for others. Have you ever gone to a Capricorn for advice, only to have them ask how you got yourself into this situation in the first place? Tsk tsk, judgemental Capricorns. I say let down your hair. Let one of your air sign friends show you a good time. Let yourself be imperfect. Make a foolish decision. Just don’t hurt anyone in the process.
A Personal Anecdote
The truest thing I ever read about Libras (my sun sign) is that we always want to be doing whatever we’re not doing at the moment. The grass is truly always greener. I am often daydreaming about a job, amount of money, or project that would make my life perfect. If only I had ____, I’d be happy. It is my natural factory setting, and I have to work really hard against it.
For the longest time, I was sure that, as a creative, the answer was moving to Toronto. I was living in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and I had a lot of false starts. Romantically, creatively, career-wise, I kept getting way too excited in the moment, only to have things fizzle out later.
When I was about to make this years-long wish into reality, I did a reading about it. And guess who popped up? I wondered if this meant I shouldn’t go. And the meaning of the reading didn’t fully hit me until a year or so later, when I was living here.
I had constant arguments with my significant other. My ego was out of control. False starts? Left, right and centre, baby. Some were my fault, others not. I struggled to find my place in the big city. I still do sometimes.
Thinking back to the reading, I remembered one of my favourite quotes:
Wherever you go, there you are.
This quotation has been said in many different ways by many different people. I first heard it in an episode of “Californication.”
The reason things “never went my way” had something to do with the outside world, but not everything. So I began to take my life into my own hands. I tried to take actionable steps toward making my life better instead of blaming all my problems on the outside world and waiting for someone to save me.
I try to pat myself on the back for how far I’ve come since then, but I still struggle with this stuff all the time. For a while, I was obsessively researching pets, thinking I’d feel content once I had the right animal companion. What I didn’t address was my loneliness and sorrow over my mother’s passing. While a rabbit or a hedgehog may help me ease my grief, those adorable creatures couldn’t solve my problems. Especially if I wasn’t even acknowledging or processing those feelings.
The Devil Tarot Card is about addiction and attachments. You may be addicted/attached to a substance, a relationship, or a way of thinking about yourself/the world around you. When The Devil comes a calling, it’s time to examine your actions: where could you use some more awareness?