The Tarot card for the month is the Devil
I have found when this card comes up in a reading that often knows exactly what it means. It can often open the flood gates of tears and as a reader, I have had to just bear witness to the dark places people find themselves. The devil thrives in darkness and sunlight is the best disinfectant. Giving someone the opportunity to accept what has happened to them, sharing the feelings of despair and helplessness, in my experience is all that is needed in some readings.
The Devil is the God of Debt, and some would call him the great God Profit, ruler of all our 21st-century institutions. Finding yourself being controlled by your debts; feeling helpless and enslaved, fearing the future; doubting your capabilities? Or totally in denial, choosing to stay in the dark? How did this happen, overindulgence in the sensual pleasures, an overemphasis on the physical, material? This means there is an imbalance, your creative, spiritual, and emotional life are being ignored.
The word Devil comes from Greek: diábolos meaning slanderer or accuser.
This card lets you know that you are caught in an unhealthy, situation, obsessed with power, money, or a relationship. The idea of sin originally meant you had ‘missed the mark’ made an error.
What happens when the Devil turns up as the advice card? Does it suggest you take a walk on the wild side? In her book ‘The Renaissance Tarot’ Jane Lyle presents her Devil card as a Green Man, a fertility icon with links to the ancient Gods of nature, Pan and Dionysus. She has chosen to dispense with Christian imagery altogether and depict the 15th trump in his original, pagan form as an unruly, vibrant spirit of the natural world, a potent earth spirit.
This card represents the tangible world of our 5 senses that are neither subjective nor objective. The advice would be to learn to be in the material world but not consumed by it.
The Devil in a nutshell
Zoroaster a Persian philosopher who died 583 BCE had the potent idea about dualistic forces that capture the human imagination, the universe is a battlefield between the gods of good and evil and we must take sides. He named these forces, Ahura Mazda and Ahriman, and under the rule of Persian King Darius the Great these ideas spread.
When Alexander the Great conquered Persia and spread Greek culture, Hades who wields a 2 pronged sword and who lived in the underworld, where great wealth is stored, came to personify the devil: and he can make you rich? Hades wasn’t nice but was not evil, he judged the passed over souls.
The God Pan who presided over music, happiness – was one of the most popular of the Roman gods who were demonized by the Roman Catholic Church, some of his attributes were assigned to the ‘Devil’, as often happens when a culture colonizes the minds of the conquerors themselves.
In the 13th Century, the Cathars were already protesting against what they perceived to be the moral, spiritual, and political corruption of the Church. Like the Gnostics who preceded them, they had a strong belief in good and evil and believed all material goods belong to the devil.
Daemonologie was written and published in 1599 by King James VI of Scotland (later also James I of England). This book endorses the practice of witch-hunting and protecting his subjects from being ruled by the devil. The devil traveled to the new world with the Puritans who believed if you are having fun, the devil is filling your glass. Terrible things were done to people who were charged with demonic acts.
By 18th-century modernism ended these witch-hunts, however, the devil lived on in folk tales. The devil now is a handsome gentleman and is rich, powerful. He will trade you great wealth for your soul, making you rich. The devil is intent on winning souls. Faust’s bargain with the devil ends badly for him when the devil calls in his debt.
Satan becomes a brave and handsome rebel in the age of romanticism. William Blake depicts him as a spirit for change; alternative thought is to play the devil’s advocate.
In the early 20th century the Devil becomes a figure of fun and is used to sell chocolate, beer, and many other consumer items. He is neither better nor worse than the people he deals with. He makes a comeback in the
1960’s with the emergence of counter culture – Anton Lavey believes greed and lust is man’s natural state, Satan the rebel. The 1967 Roman Polanski movie Rosemary’s baby brings the Prince of Darkness back into the public eye when the Devil wins the babies’ soul. The Exorcist follows in 1973, where the agents of the church triumph over evil.
Hollywood discovers fortunes can be made exploiting the Devil, which some say leads to the 1980’s satanic panic, satanic ritual abuse rekindles the dormant devil fear, and hysteria is spread by telecommunication.
Half of all Americans believe the Devil is real, fuelled by the Sept 11 attacks, George W. Bush tells the world evil is real and it must be opposed. Osama Bin Laden is said to be in league with the devil. ‘You are either with us or against us’, which is classic ancient dualistic thinking. Lt. General William G. Boykin is quoted, as saying the enemy of the USA is Satan. The ‘war on terror’ = fighting agents of pure evil.
The so-called enemy is treated in a similar way to the treatment of heretics, 400 years earlier, all their human rights are denied. Another US marine Lt Colonel Gareth Brandl goes on record – ‘the enemy is Satan’. This thinking gives the US Army permission to do terrible things, pillage, torture, and murder, mimicking the military campaigns sanctioned by the Catholic Church in the Middle ages.
Traditionally the Devil stands for evil, I believe bigoted religious thinking and all fundamental religions who persecute anyone who doesn’t think like them are the real evils in the 21st Century.