The Devil’s Tarot card, positive or negative?

the devil

The Devil is one of the unpopular arcana among the Tarot of Marseille. But is this Arcanum as devilish as its name seems to indicate? Why does this arcanum bring about an adverse reaction in some people at first blush? Are we right to be wary of it? What does it reveal about us?

Representation of the Devil in the Tarot of Marseille

When taking a look at his clawed hands and feet, it is tempting to associate the Devil’s arcanum with an evil spirit. However, this devil is quite good-natured, a far cry from the traditional devilish image. He even looks as if butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth!
He stands on an object that looks very much like mooring rings. At his feet, two creatures are tied to it. They both have a tail and pointy ears. The expression on their face seems to be quite cheerful. A red headband, on which branches or animal horns are affixed, surrounds their forehead.
As for him, the Devil possesses two blue bat wings and seems to be holding the blade of a sword. His head is covered by a strange golden hat, with branches on it too. He is cross-eyed, saddled with fake breasts and gives a glimpse of the most intimate details of his anatomy through blue pantyhose.
On this arcanum of theTarot of Marseille, the Devil and his two acolytes seem to be having fun. To sum up, this Devil rather resembles an outrageously disguised character of the commedia dell'arte. Therefore, it is more tempting to scoff at this Devil rather than to be afraid of him. So, why does he cause a rejection reaction?

Meaning of the rejection inspired by the Devil’s Tarot card

The Devil’s Tarot card represents, in some kind of way, a desire or an urge. This card holds everything we may have denied ourselves until now:

  • the pleasure offered by food
  • sensual pleasure
  • the pleasure to live, as simple as that.

This Tarot card being linked to pleasures sometimes pushed to the extreme may signal the rejection of the instinctive animal part of ourselves.
But the Devil may also refer to someone who’s submitted to their instincts, and who might be living an unbridled life, with a feeling of guilt. This card will leave a mark on the subconscious of a person who finds it hard to come to terms with their urges or on the subconscious of someone not living the life they should.
The arcanum of the Devil may also refer to people who received a very strict education or one that was highly influenced by religion.  This arcanum of the Tarot of Marseille could shock any person confronted with some kind of addiction.
But someone who cannot say "no" can also be found in this arcanum and have a feeling of rejection for this card.
Generally speaking, human beings sometimes deal with their fantasies and desires in a quite imprudent way.

The Devil card is liberating since it makes us realize we have to master our urges, which are great servants but not good masters.

If you wish to know the meaning of other Tarot of Marseille’s major arcana, I suggest that you consult this article. Likewise, if you are interested in the history of the tarot, you will find a lot of information here.