For many people, even the thought of the Devil card sends a chill down their spine. I believe this sort of thinking is nonsense… In the Tarot, the Devil is one of the trumps or major cards, and all of the trumps are assigned the qualities of either an astrological sign, a planet or one of the classical elements: Earth, Air, Fire or Water. This doesn’t mean you have to be an astrologer to understand or gain knowledge from the cards, but it does mean that when considering a card, one should also consider the qualities of the symbol attached to it as well as any associated symbol.
The Devil is the card of Capricorn, the Sea Goat, and to understand the Devil card we must look at the qualities and associations of the sign of Capricorn. Capricorn is ruled by Saturn, the planet of limitations and time; which in the Tarot is represented by the Universe or World card. This adds a level of discipline to sea-goats that, if encouraged, can bring great riches in whatever endeavor the Capricorn takes. The planet Saturn grants Capricorns an appreciation of limitation and an inherent understanding of using limitations to empower their life. Also, the planet Mars is exalted in Capricorn, meaning that it expresses its most beneficial qualities. The card of Mars is the Tower. We must take all of these qualities into consideration when we consider the symbolism of the Devil card. In this manner, we start to see the patterns and deeper wisdom held within the Tarot.
Capricorns are adept in dealing with stereotypically worldly things. Capricorns are known to have a special relationship with money, often gaining it later in life or as an inheritance. Capricorns are most interested in things that have an enduring quality—old things—and this can lead to a fear of change and an overly conservative outlook on life if taken to its extreme. We must remember that balance is the key in dealing with these things. All of these qualities are considered implicit within the sign of Capricorn. We also see in Capricorns the quality of the Devil as adversary and judge. We often see Capricorns “Playing the devil’s advocate,” and if amplified by environmental factors, this quality can lead to a manipulative superiority. In addition to these, the Devil card typifies all the sins of the flesh. The flesh has its own brand of wisdom, but it is also one of the most taboo subjects we face as a global civilization.
The Devil is about the temptations and rewards of the rock and roll lifestyle—money, sex, drugs and alcohol, dancing and singing, even practical jokes. The Devil card is also all about our shadow; the area within us that is our own internal psychic darkness.
At this point, most of us have already decided that this Devil card is a shady fellow; but then we remember that in the course of history, the divinity of one civilization becomes the devil of another when that civilization is conquered. In these modern times, with the benefit of hindsight, we can see that the way most people think of the Devil is actually a carryover from the Greek god Pan, we see the Devil in a deeper light. We see that the Devil points at forgotten wisdom; it points to deep things. The Devil card typifies the virtues of the power of youth, of rebellion. We realize that if we allowed these Devilish qualities within us free reign, they would surely destroy us. If we completely deny them, we lead a dry life. We must deal with them prudently, and in a balanced fashion. If we do that, then we see the joy and wisdom and ecstasy that they can bring to our life.