Saturday, December 22, 2018

Tarot Card of the Month: The Devil

The Tarot Card for December is Devil. The Devil card is also referred to as Shadow. The Devil is the Fifteenth of the Major Arcana in Tarot. The Devil is associated with the planet Saturn, the element of Earth, and the zodiacal sign of Capricorn. The sea-goat Capricorn is associated with Pan because according to legend the satyr Pan fled from the beast Typhon, jumped into a river just as he was transforming himself into a fish. The lower half of his body became fishlike, but his upper body above the water remained in the form of a goat.

While the Western world is familiar with the term "devil" as the adversary and fallen angel who rebelled against God and leads the damned, but as with all Tarot, the Devil's imagery is symbolic, not literal. This card represents the temptation and seduction of the material world and physical pleasures and desires.

This card depicts the Devil as a half-man, half-goat creature with large bat wings and horns sprouting from its head. To some it represents Baphomet while others believe it represents Pan; the latter would make sense as Pan is associated with the zodiacal sign of Capricorn. Its right hand is raised while his left hand is lowered and carrying a torch. Above the Devil is an inverted pentagram. The Devil is squatting upon a black rectangular pillar or altar. Chained to the block are two naked humans: one woman and one man. Both humans seem to be sprouting horns and a tail; the woman's tail is a clump of grapes and the man's ends in flame.

The Devil represents a scapegoat, something people use to blame our problems on so that they can escape accountability or as a psychological mechanism so people can cope with events that happen outside of their control. The humans appear to be held against their will, but upon closer inspection, the chains are loose and could be easily removed meaning that the humans are there are of their own free will and accord. They are enslaved by their earthly pleasures and vices, and the longer they are stuck where they become more and more like the devil. The tails represent their animalistic inclinations: the grapes representing pleasure and the fire lust. Their nudity is a metaphor for pleasure-seeking and shamelessness. The reverse pentagram is said to represent occult knowledge that leads to further enlightenment beyond the physical realm, but, also serving as a symbol for Earth, reminds of the dangers of materialistic, selfish, and licentious habits.

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