If you fear that Negative forces outside of you are out to get you, they will. If you believe you are a victim of circumstances or of Evil, then you will become one. If you fear your own success and empowerment, you will unconsciously sabotage it. If you do not acknowledge your own shadow side or weakness, you will project it outwards. The Shadow will grow around you. What you fear, you may eventually become in a twisted way of overcoming the fear. At heart, we humans strive to overcome and survive all difficulty in our path. Sometimes, to overcome the fear, people unwittingly become what they fear. The Nineties’ film, Fight Club aptly depicts this phenomenon. The “Abused” becomes or is unconsciously one with the “Abuser”.
The typical Devil card in the Tarot is in fact quite scary looking as it portrays the classic image of a horned half man, half beast with forked tongue and pointed tail. Chained to this beast are two humans appearing naked and vulnerable and above the beast is an inverted five pointed star indicating separation from God or the Divine Spirit. The symbolic key to liberation inherent in this image is found in the fact that the chains that hold the humans are loose and even cracked open showing that if they are mentally and emotionally empowered, they are physically free to walk away from the influence of the Devil.
Another Tarot image of this 15th Major Arcana pictured here is from the Osho Zen deck which portrays the Devil as a fierce Lion to which sheep are bound and tethered. Here we get the sense of being bound to a conditional relationship of domination and subjugation where the prowess and violent potential of one overpowers the gentleness and meekness of the other. From the birth of Christ up until 2012 (the Piscean era) many have found themselves disempowered in the nets of oppressive governments, greedy corporations as well as financial and even religious institutions not to mention controlling, self-serving bullies in various forms of relationship. There has been an unconscious willingness to trust Authority over the self, essentially a misunderstanding of Christ’s message to relinquish the self in service to God or the Divine.
In contrast, the image of Pan, the nature god playing a reed flute in Liz Greene’s Mythic Tarot represents the earthy goat of sensual delight and fertility that preceded the traditional Devil. This playful deity (originating from Roman mythology) became transfigured into a grotesque and vile devil to turn the common people away from paganism and towards Christianity. The early Christian religious authorities can be attributed with demonizing paganism as such, beginning with Constantine, the Roman Emperor who institutionalized Christianity on a mass scale from 306 AD to 337 AD and then taking full effect in the early Middle Ages. Once the common people held fear in their hearts for their own basic sexual and natural way of being and feeling, the “authorities” could easily control them. Sexuality became perverse in the Western world and another arena for domination, subjugation and abuse.
When the Devil card appears in a reading, it puts up the red flag of danger for most people. So, firstly it is important to know that the “Devil” whether externalized or internalized can always be overcome. The key significance of this card is to recognize your own Shadow and to embrace your sexuality as something natural and delightful rather than as “dirty” or perverse. In the Jungian sense, you must own and integrate your Shadow as part of yourself so that you master and control it rather than allowing it to unconsciously influence you. Like the yin/yang symbol, the shadow/yin side is equally significant to the whole as the light/yang side; the two must exist in perfect balance with a spot of shadow in the light and a proportional spot of light in the shadow.
In my own life, I fully embodied the meaning of the Devil in confronting my deep-rooted fear of betrayal. From a very young age, I experienced the emotional pain of betrayal as my birth father betrayed the trust of my mother, and also my grandfather, despite being the Minister of a church, betrayed the trust of my grandmother and later the trust of our entire family. I then carried this imprint of mistrust, emotional insecurity, and fear of betrayal into my intimate relationships with men from 16 years on until I finally overcame and integrated this “Devil” by the time I reached 40. For a long time, in the vein of feminism, I pointed my finger outwards blaming the men and society for perpetuating men’s reputed betrayal and mistreatment of women. Then in response to the men that betrayed me, I betrayed them in turn, not out of revenge as some of them thought, but purely in my effort to gain back self-esteem. I wanted to be equal to the men and have the power to attract, seduce, and hold the attention of more than one man at a time if I so desired. So it was, though I am not proud to admit it, that I became the “Betrayer” I had so feared. In my full awareness of my own fall from virtue, I acknowledged my Shadow and allowed its place alongside my inner Light. At the moment I no longer feared this Shadow as an external force beyond my control, the phenomena of betrayal evaporated from my life. So it was I could suddenly trust that men could be honest and forthright and so it was that I recognized who would be my noble husband.
Onthe collective level, the Devil must also be confronted and integrated. Fear-based beliefs have been rampant in the forms of Nazism, Fascism, and Racism to name a few on our planet. The behavior of addiction is another “devil” that consumes many. Few on our planet are or have been truly fearless, save Ghandi and Jesus.
When we take Mary Greer’s method of calculating Tarot card cycles and apply them to past generational cycles, the appearance of the Devil has coincided with war. The last time this Major Arcana was prominent in its cycle was during World War II and Hitler’s extreme abuse of humanity. Now again, the Devil is emerging in collective consciousness cycles as something that must be overcome. Those of us born after World War II will be getting the Devil card initially side by side with the Chariot (the 7th Major Arcana) indicating that we collectively and individually have the opportunity to overcome the fears and vices it represents. We can overcome the corruption, avarice, greed and betrayal of institutions that have abused and chained us with their deceptions and control through fear.
To accelerate your awareness of how to overcome the fears associated with your own Shadow or sexuality, seek healing or counseling assistance. Spiritual tarot counseling, astrology, and intuitive guidance can of course be helpful as offered by myself (www.cdvierling.com and Genevieve on this blog site). Also you may consider ancestral healing or family constellations work to release you from the Shadow conditioning unconsciously held among your relatives.
As each of us integrates our own Shadow and does not allow it to overpower our Light, we bring the Shadow into balance on the planet so that it does not overtake humanity as a whole.