Finally at the last stage of the Fool’s Journey the Fool must encounter seven more cards or “lessons” before he is able to achieve spiritual enlightenment. He begins with the challenging card of the Devil. If you ascribe to the Bible then this card is much like Jesus being tempted by Satan in the desert. The Devil dangles every temptation he can in front of the Fool, trying to exploit his weaknesses. He performs his tricks, makes his promises and seduces the Fool with his charisma. However if the Fool is to stay on his correct path, he must recognize the Devil when he appears and turn down his destructive offers.
The Devil card represents the Fool’s greed, lust, bondage, addiction, and materialism. He is the “shadow self” of the human psyche, the part of us we find shameful and cannot accept. The Devil can stoke the fires of the ego (that the Fool learned to tame in the Strength card), into a powerful inferno of rage and hate promoting prejudice, ignorance, chauvinism and bigotry. He can encourage the Fool to become a tyrant, misuse and abuse his power, hurt and dominate others. The Devil card also represents bad habits and addictions, whether it be to drugs, alcohol, sex, unhealthy relationships, porn, religion, abuse, rigid or victim thinking, etc., anything that keeps one out of balance and the soul tethered to an earthly distraction. He manipulates the Fool into making bad decisions that leads him down the wrong path. He can also trigger jealousy, envy and spite and indicate emotional, sexual or substance abuse.
The Devil ultimately works as a mirror for the Fool. He is showing us that what the Fool hates in others is actually what he hates in himself. Therefore the Devil is just a projection of oneself onto another. He is in essence the scapegoat of the Tarot. He is prodding The Fool into self-reflection, asking him what he finds shameful? Where does he need to find acceptance? What can he NOT let go of and why? What does he lose his power to? What does he obsess over? The Fool needs to get to the root of what ails him so he can heal it. Of course the Fool can beat the Devil once he realizes he is with him by choice. The Devil has no true power over the Fool, only the power the Fool gives to him freely.
If the Devil is reversed or compromised in a spread then good news! You are breaking the chains that bind! You are reclaiming you power over addictions, bad behavior and shame, recovering from illness and walking your spiritual path. This card reversed can indicate you have forsaken the temptations, negative habits and thought patterns that have plagued you in the upright position and realized you no longer have to engage in destructive behavior. You are back on the path to enlightenment! You fought the Devil and you won!
Illustrations from The Considerate Cat Tarot Deck by Madeleine Belanger; photo by Holly Petersen