XV The Devil
The shadow self, fears, inhibitions, blocked feelings, addictions
Card Number 15 of the Major Arcana is The Devil. In the traditional Tarot, he is symbolized by the horned Pagan god Pan which was later used by the Catholic church as the devil, the outer personification of all evil. To this day, when this card is drawn, many people react with fear of outside evil forces. Millennia of brainwashing and religious indoctrination in order to rule and manipulate more effectively is hard to get out of people’s minds.
As we are on an inner journey, we must remind ourselves here that the devil is an inner quality or characteristic, an automated response mechanism and thought and behavioural patterns we have been running from mostly early childhood, a coping mechanism trained through socialisation, conditioning, but also trauma. In Doreen Virtue’s Angel Tarot deck, the card is associated with the Ego.
However, to associate the Ego with evil is not only too simplistic but also inherently wrong. Too long have many shared the message that the ego is evil and must be killed. This, in fact, is impossible. Let me explain to you why that is so.
The Ego, (Latin = I), is the definition and perception of Self. My Ego, for example, is Tirza and all that goes with it, all strengths, superpowers, limiting beliefs, weaknesses and insecurities included. If I were to “kill” my ego, I’d have to completely destroy all thought and perception of me as a sentient human being, a woman, mother, daughter, author, etc. I would quite simply dissolve. And that is certainly not the point of human existence. Neither is it to suffer.
Being human, having a human body and experience is something glorious, adventurous and exhilarating once you can overcome your fears and limiting beliefs and create the life that you want in your current human existence. So how can we see the card “The Devil” as a positive vehicle for transformation and greater self-awareness? How can we use these “evil forces” to heal ourselves?
First of all, we need to understand that on a level of physical laws, there is no evil in the moral sense. That does not mean that any morals are invalid or “non-existent.” Psychology tells us that those people commonly perceived by society as “truly evil” have psychological disorders. These can be due to hormonal imbalances, brain damage or, most commonly, trauma, especially from childhood. But not everyone is a serial killer, of course. I am using this example to point out where the underlying reasons for any dysfunctions lie, even if they are only “mild” ones.
Evil is “less than light,” it is the absence of light, or better, the inability to perceive light and love. When we are starving for love and attention, because we cannot love ourselves and believe we need validation from outside of us, we tend to turn to addictions from overeating on unhealthy foods over smoking and drinking alcohol to substance abuse. Certain habits like constantly washing your hands until they bleed can become addictive, too. There is a wider variety than you can imagine.
In some cases, an inability to feel being loved leads to emotional pain which in turn leads to the irrational fear of everyone wanting to hurt this person. This can then turn from a defensive into an offensive reaction when triggered. People are being pushed away because we don’t believe they can truly love us or some may wish to hurt others in a failing attempt to numb their own pain. Of course, this doesn’t work. Two bads don’t make a right, as they say, and it is exactly this way with our “inner demons.”
When we see the Tarot’s Devil as an opportunity for growth, for greater self-realisation and an invitation to connect to our source and get to know ourselves better, this card is a powerful ally by pointing you towards your fears, shadow sides and limiting beliefs that keep holding you back from fulfilling your innate divine potential.
The Devil shows you where those shadow parts lie, what they are and calls you to not “numb the pain” by mindlessly following old destructive patterns, but to bring these parts out into the light with love and acceptance and turn them into healing and inner growth, so you can move forward in an ever lighter new life of love and abundance.
Carnation, Mugwort, Rosemary, Lobelia, Thystle, Blackberry