There's no doubt that The Devil is one of the "hot button" cards in the Tarot, or to put it more plainly, it's one of the cards that scares people. Let's see if we can demystify this bad boy! First of all, put your old notions of fire and brimstone away: The Tarot doesn't include the idea of Good vs. Evil.
Before you glance over that statement and read on, let's give it a moment's consideration. The Tarot does not dwell in the realm of good and evil. What does that mean to the Western mind? The concept of that duality is so prevalent in our culture that it's a foundation for our thinking. To move beyond that childlike outlook is the first step toward taking personal responsibility not only for our actions, but for our thoughts as well. Tarot teaches that there really is no Devil, and no outside force that can overcome the Spirit against our will.
Rachel Pollack writes "The common image of the Devil is simply a mixture of Pan and other competitors to Christ". Early references to the fun-loving Pan may have been usurped during the middle ages by the Devil, which is known to have appeared later than other major arcana. The pagan Pan is mirthful and randy, unapologetically promiscuous, and carries none of the ponderous negativity of the demon found in our modern versions of the Tarot. The quality of mirth is an intrinsic and very positive aspect of the Devil. After all, what provokes humor? Shortcomings, incongruities, and foibles. Yet the result is the amazing healing force of laughter, which has the power to purify the subconscious mind and infuse the Spirit with joy.
The spiritual incongruity expressed in The Devil is the longing for freedom coupled with the inability to see the clear path toward it. Instead of lifting off their chains, the bestialized lovers remain bound to ignorance and materialism, believing that what we see is all there is, and that appearances are all that matters. In this state of mind, the development and potential shown in the earlier triumphs is not being expressed. Still, human nature does not truly strive to be free until we feel our limitations, so in that sense the restrictive nature found in the Devil is a necessary part of the human experience. The Devil personifies the idea that we are victims of circumstance, and at the same time, offers clues about how to free ourselves from that mindset. The first stage of spiritual enlightenment is shown here, where we begin to realize that limitations are imaginary, and happiness is a choice.
The Devil in the Tarot is not an expression of Dark as opposed to Light, but rather of a multidimensional realm where the traveler navigates the maze of human ability and desire. As she enters into the realm of the last seven triumphs, the traveler will have need of all of the tools gained from preceding cards. The compassion and self-discipline found in Strength, which resides directly about The Devil in the layout of the Three Worlds, are of utmost importance to the traveler who is attempting to move past the forces of inertia.
Meditate on The Devil to better understand the meaning of Freedom.