(Please note that I will use gendered terms in this post, as most of us have been taught to experience this thing we’ve labeled The Devil in it’s masculine form.)
We’ve gotten to the big daddy of them all when it comes to tarot and mental health – The Devil.
I love this card – it and The Lovers are my birth cards. Which explains so damn much about my life.
Like Death, it is a very misunderstood card. It often causes fear and panic when you’ve never encountered it before.
I think I look at it a bit differently than many other readers do. But that’s because I look at the Devil himself a bit differently than we’ve been taught to. We’ll get to that.
The Devil is the dark side of The Lovers.
If that’s all I said and you knew anything about The Lovers I could wrap it up right now.
But don’t worry, I’ve got more to say.
Let’s take a look.
Let’s ignore the main figure of The Devil for a moment and take a look at the company he keeps.
It is none other than Adam and Eve from The Lovers.
At first glance, they seem to be tethered by chains to the block The Devil rests on.
But when we pay just a little more attention we see that yes, there are chains around their necks, but they are in no way tight.
They’re not like Princess Leia chained to Jaba’s platform.
They could slip those chains off anytime.
They’ve made a choice to be there, and that choice has changed them physically and mentally. They’ve sprouted little horns and grown tails.
They’re turning into demons.
They’ve been wearing their chains so long that they’ve convinced themselves they have no choice.
They believe themselves to be bound to their vices.
They have fallen to materialism, sex without spirituality, over indulgence, obsession, temptation.
You name it, they’ll try it.
They feel empty because they believe they’ve lost their connection to Spirit.
So they consume and they indulge their senses because they’re looking for something, anything, that resembles that feeling they once had before they fell from grace.
In doing so, they feel the seperation even more.
Let’s now turn our attention to The Devil himself.
To understand this card, you must understand him.
He’s not what the Church would have you believe.
He is not evil, nor cruelty, nor malice.
He is a mirror.
Or perhaps more accurately, he holds the mirror.
He shows us our deepest, darkest parts. He peels back the layers we hide under and shows us what’s buried underneath.
He asks us to contemplate who and what we really are. He prods us to figure out what we really want.
We’ve been taught by our Christian dominated culture that desire comes from outside of us.
The Devil reminds us it is all within.
He shows us our temptations, our fears, our potentials for addictions and self destructive behaviors and asks us if this is what we truly want.
He believes in free will.
He will not stop you from indulging in any of these things – that is not his role.
But he will bear witness to it all, and every step of the way he will ask “Is this what you want? Is this what you deserve? Is this who you are?”
He wants us to realize the answer is no. But he believes only we can come to that conclusion for ourselves.
The Devil is an aspect of Spirit. The very same Spirit Adam and Eve think they’ve lost connection to.
So what, really, does any of that have to do with mental health?
The Devil is here to remind us every day we make a choice.
We can choose to stay shackled to our pain, our addictions, our self harm, our self loathing.
Or we can choose to slip those chains and make a new path for ourselves.
I don’t mean to make it sound easy. Often it’s quite difficult. That’s why we need help.
That help comes in the form of Shadow work. Mindset work. Talking to our trusted friends or family members, or finding a support group.
And reaching out to a mental health professional if you need to.
The Devil didn’t make us do it. He is asking us if we want out.
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