(The above image is a copy of The Devil card in a standard Rider-Waite Tarot deck. The 8 symbols pointed out above are explained below.)
Like The Death card, The Devil card is incredibly misunderstood. The card features, Baphomet, the Horned God. While Baphomet is a neopagan god that unifies several dichotomies, man/animal, male/female, good/evil, he has incorrectly been interpreted as simply an illustration of evil. Traditionally speaking, Baphomet can illustrate the id within all of us. The Devil card encourages the discovery of things within us that we avoid addressing.
For more information about The Devil card, check out A. E. Waite’s description here.
Point 1 – BAPHOMET’S POSE
Baphomet’s pose is a reiteration and subversion of the angel’s pose in The Lovers card. His hands are also a subversion of The High Priestess’ pose. While The High Priestess hands say as above, so below, Baphomet’s hands are open, saying that everything is revealed; there is no mystery in life.
Point 2 – BAPHOMET’S HEAD
Baphomet’s head is that of a goat. It’s triangular shape points downward, not only to illustrate the primacy of the material world at our feet, but also to subvert the traditional upward triangle of the trinity.
Point 3 – INVERTED PENTAGRAM
Between Baphomet’s horns, there is an inverted pentagram. This illustrates the darker versions of occultism. While many sects of religion use an upright pentagram as a positive symbol, the inverted pentagram subverts that effort.
Point 4 – THE TORCH
In Baphomet’s left hand he holds a downward facing torch. Like many of the symbolism in this card, the upside-down torch subverts the traditional religious objective of bringing light into the darkness.
Point 5 – THE BLACK BOX
Baphomet crouches with his goat feet on top of a black box. The box bears some resemblance to the holy of holies of Islam, the Kaaba. It can illustrate the unreflected self or the unknown within a non-mysterious world.
Point 6 – THE POSES OF THE HUMANS
Like Baphomet’s pose, the poses of the humans subvert the poses of the humans in The Lovers card. While the lovers were free in the Garden of Eden, the humans here are trapped in the fires of Hell.
Point 7 – TAILS OF THE HUMANS
The two humans each have a tail. The woman’s tail is made of grapes while the man’s tail is made of fire. The grapes and fire symbolize drunkenness and lust, two overindulgences. The two tails are also subversions of the two trees in The Lovers card, one being the fruit of knowledge and the other being the fire of life.
Point 8 – CHAINS
Chains wrap around the necks of the two humans and connect them to the black box Baphomet stands on. While the chains appear to trap the humans, they are loose around their necks. The humans can escape any time they want. Being with Baphomet is a choice.
An Upright Devil suggests that something is holding you back. There is some co-dependent attachment, be it a substance or a relationship, that is preventing you from performing your best. Self-analyze and observe where your motives are coming from. If they are coming from anywhere but yourself, consider a realignment.
On the positive side, an Upright Devil could suggest a healthy exploration of your sexuality. Take a walk on the wild side and come back with a greater understanding of yourself.
A Reverse Devil can suggest that something great is in your future if only you detach yourself from the things that hold you back. While an Upright Devil has an ambiguous future, a Reverse Devil has an optimistic one. If you try really hard to maintain self-reliance, rewards will come.
A Reverse Devil could also suggest that there is an unknown secret within you. Are you hiding from an aspect of yourself? Embrace who you are and wear the secret on your sleeve.
For more Tarot Card Meanings, check out our blog here.
About the author: John Taylor is a content writer and freelancer through the company Upwork.com. You may view his freelancing profile here. He has a B. A. in English, with a specialty in technical writing, from Texas A&M University and a M. A. in English from the University of Glasgow. You may view his previous articles about Tarot here and his LinkedIn profile here.