Tarot Talk

The Devil (15)


“Abstainer. A weak man who yields to the temptation of denying himself a pleasure.” ~Ambrose Gwinett Bierce

Image Description:

The Rider-Waite deck depicts a horned devil perched upon a black pedestal, holding an inverted torch. His face and head is goat-like in appearance. His has the wings of a bat and the feet/legs of a bird. An inverted pentagram appears near his forehead. A nude male and female figure, each displaying a tail, are chained beside him. The man’s tail ends in flames. The woman’s tail is tipped with grapes.


Bat Wings, Goat Legs, Horns, Bird Feet: Animalistic instinctive nature

Chains: Self imposed servitude, bondage and restriction

Inverted Pentagram: Material plane, ignoring or subduing the spiritual

Downward Torch: Will directed toward the material plane

Negative aspects of ourselves

Black Background: Fear of the unknown, ignorance

Key Words:

Temptation, Obsession, Materialism, Ignorance, Bondage

Fool’s Journey:

The Fool’s journey eventually takes him to the foot of an enormous black mountain, where he stumbles upon a creature perched on a pedestal. Loosely chained to the creature’s side are a man and woman. Seemingly ignorant to their bondage, the couple obsessively engage in every earthly indulgence imaginable: lust, passion, greed, etc. Watching them, the Fool soon realizes that the horned being is not their jailer; it is the seductive temptation of materialism that binds them. Feeling his own earthly desires rising within him, the Fool lingers only long enough to understand this aspect of himself before continuing his journey again.


To learn how to recognize, understand, and accept our own inner demons in order to become free of them.


By whatever name we choose to call him, the Devil is not an evil, sinister figure residing outside of ourselves. He is the untamed and uncivilized aspects of ourselves that we normally seek to repress. Often times we feel ashamed of these hidden parts of our nature. Lust, Greed, Envy, etc. are characteristics of our ‘shadow’ or ‘darker side’ that we typically choose to disown or ignore.

In readings, the Devil card can appear when materialism is excessively evident. The seductive temptations of the material world can bind us so compellingly, we often do not recognize our slavery to them. On the other end of the scale, extreme self denial can create inhibitions, which can enslave us just as strongly. Ignorance can prevent us from seeking to balance our material realities with our spirituality needs. To develop to our full potential, we must accept that ‘good’ and ‘bad’ should not be separated, but integrated to create a natural whole.

The Devil card can sometimes indicate an oppressive situation in which we feel trapped and unable to escape. Feeling tied down against our will can result in a feeling of lost independence. When we are caught in unhealthy, unproductive circumstances or obsessions that rob us of our freedom, it is important to examine the restrictions that bind us; they may very well be escapable bonds that we have placed upon ourselves.