Wednesday’s Daily Tarot draw is the Devil and it gets interesting as the morning unfolded and “accidents” happened (trickster) and a forum conversation devolved into a discussion about “evil” and “Satan…”
Now those of you that know me via the blog or in the walking world know that I don’t buy the idea of devotion to anything resembling that kind of [capital "D" Devil] thought-form. Belief sets up the framework for various experiences in life and I don’t navigate the world looking for, hiding from, or interacting with a universe of Good vs. Evil. Too archaic. I like a lot of ancient world ideas, especially those that translate to modern times but polarized extremism is past due for an extinction. Take it out to the back field and put it down.
Yet, some people do live in a two pillar world. I accept that, but I still choose my world-view by allowing the spectrum of colors in light, and not the bleakness and severity of a universe defined in black and white, or the earth as an arena, and all us victims in an eternal struggle heading for some doomsday.
“Pick a side or you are doooooooooomed!”
Devil’s in the Details
“Many native traditions held clowns and tricksters as essential to any contact with the sacred. People could not pray until they had laughed, because laughter opens and frees from rigid preconception. Humans had to have tricksters within the most sacred ceremonies for fear that they forget the sacred comes through upset, reversal, surprise. The trickster in most native traditions is essential to creation, to birth.”
― Byrd Gibbens
Busy-bee that I am, I’ve collected a few thoughts on the subject from the FB-Fanpage and let them mull with my own. Just because I experience a thing and define it as my truth does not mean that everyone else does, however it is the practice of magick and metaphysics to test and refine, “To know, to will, to dare…” Yet I can’t help but wonder if my evolving spiritual cosmology indeed expresses the content that I have created with the world I perceive; and if so wouldn’t another cosmology then create a different fractal of experience?
If I stand by my work, then the answer would be yes.
“Although the individual human monad, with spiritual self-consciousness and self-knowledge, may arrive at that state of perfection in the slow course of its evolution, extending perhaps over millions of years, nevertheless there is no necessity to wait until nature may, perhaps slowly and unaided, accomplish her object, but she may be assisted by the individual will and effort of those who know how to proceed.”
― The Secret Doctrine
It is my understanding, if you go back far enough and through the terrible imagery and the psychic garbage of people’s projections, into what is Key XV the Devil, you will find our fear instinct. Our fight or flight. The morass of darkness that envelopes one of the deeper mysteries of who we are: Primal. Instinctual and as much of the earth as the stars for we are of the same stuff.
There is however at least two sides to the meaning and the pitfall of the devil becomes our vices acting against our moral beliefs… feeding the primal being until it becomes obese, ill, vain, wanton, or lustful with the flavors and sensations that come with living. These pleasures become the chains, binding us to a physical world view only. We become tethered to the fear of loss of “things,” swallowed up by what we consume, and emotionally retractive (love expands, fear contracts). We blow, we smoke, we eat and drink, we screw, we run, scream, cry.
“In life many things are pleasurable and highly satisfying in moderation. We all need food to sustain us, but when it becomes our evening habit to sit down and eat three large bars of chocolate self-restraint has flown and we are under the power of the Devil. Temptation is all around us. Have another beer. Go and have lots of sex without ever forming a relationship. Tell lies until everybody is suspicious and has learnt not to trust you. We all have our excuses for this repetitive behaviour, but until we listen to our higher conscious, as symbolised by The Pope, we stay locked in and chained down by the Devil.”
- Toni Allen
We bind ourselves with our fears but does this make the hunger or fear that is the Vice that the Devil represents a divine being Hell-bent on eating your soul?
Could we but transform these shadows…
The Devil We Know
“Now in the Tarot there is a hermaphroditic figure called the diable [the Devil card]. That would be in alchemy the gold. In other words, such an attempt as the union of opposites appears to the Christian mentality as devilish, something evil which is not allowed, something belonging to black magic.”
- Carl Jung (thank you Mary K Greer!)
The Devil is Tricksters like spry rabbit, and clever coyote. The Devil is fallen angel. The Devil is Satan. The Devil is fear, is Vice, is… whoever you know him, it, or this aspect of life to be.
I’ve given my perspective but it opens up a new dialogue for me and jumps around to where I first aimed my intent, that if the gods we choose and the spiritual cosmology we follow structure the world we experience, then the Devil you know becomes part of your reality.
That does not make it part of mine.
“Over the centuries, there has been much cynical manipulation of the concept of ‘the Devil’ for political, religious and doctrinal purposes, leading to the demonizing of this complex, pagan nature spirit. yet the prime role of such archetypes is one of protection and initiation and is the human link to wilderness, nature, fertility, sometimes manifested as fierceness, ecstasy and sexuality. However, the fear engendered by the warping of this archetype will be with us for a long time to come.
The Guardian stirs irrational fears from the muddy bottom of the human sub-conscious and fills the timid soul with foreboding. He is charged with an inhuman and unseen sentience, feeding off fear and panic with malevolent joy. But within this sardonic and chaotic energy lie wisdom, courage and strength.”
“… If the Guardian is frightening, it is because we are frightened by our own reflection, our own dark shadow, and it is this element of ourselves we must master.”
- “The Guardian” from The Wildwood Tarot, Mark Ryan and John Matthews
Taking a more natural view and an integrative approach what emerges is, as all things are, organic to our experience and necessary as an initiatory principle in life as Mark Ryan and John Matthews have suggested. Walking across the fire, or into the darkness regardless of our fear, which is faith misplaced, becomes facing our devil, or shadow.
And this helps us in our becoming.
The Sacred Other
There is the small problem of the Shadow in that they tend to distort and project from our light of consciousness and cast a darkness on the things around us. We make Others out of shadow and pin them darkly onto the world as malevolent influences coming to get us. We invert the shadow and make it our enemy, often The Adversary.
It’s a hard left on the path. It is a way of Karma, of learning by doing, repeating, over and over the same lesson until one day we realize that our worlds change when we change.
Societies have made Others out of people because of ethnic, sexual, religious, differences, because of illness or deformities and other various reasons. Over generations we have seen slavery, war because of differences in religious doctrines –often within the same faith but between sects– Othering has occurs today on the world stage with the demonization of Gays, Lesbians, and Transgendered people, with ethnic cleansing, even within the economic system as it is. There is a powerful play of shadow in this moment and I hope for the light of consciousness, of compassion, or acceptance –not tolerance but acceptance– to waken in each mind locked into this struggle.
I’ve personally done it, the shadow dance is always in play but I consider it evolving as I remain close to my projection of fear, or shame, or whatever it is that arises. I do not cast it away.
“If . . . the shadow . . . were obviously evil, there would be no problem whatever. But the shadow is merely somewhat inferior, primitive, unadapted, and awkward; not wholly bad. It even contains childish or primitive qualities which would in a way vitalize and embellish human existence”
- Carl Jung
So what happens when we make the Other, sacred? What happens when we invite it into the light, or to the council fire? What happens when we do work to embrace sub-personalities and hidden selves with love, with acceptance, and eventually with integration and re-purposing? I believe we transform.
I am at a farm-house. My mother and my auntie Joy are with me. The house part of the farm is L-shaped and I am in a corner room. The walls are pastel yellow with white trim. My mother and aunt are partying, drinking, dancing and carrying on. They are drunk.
My auntie Joy sees something by the farm, near the barn where a road travels passed a windmill and over the horizon. She is yelling for us to come see. We go to the back door, look out at the farm and see there a blue vortex with a black cloud coming out of it.
The cloud resolves into a swarm. The air is buzzing with a million bee’s as they fly around the house and my aunt, in terror try’s to flee by leaving the home. I am struggling with her to keep the door shut but she opens it and the swarm is everywhere. The bees are crawling all over my face, into my nose and mouth, my clothes and then absurdly they can pass through my skin through the palms of my hands and they are inside me.
The dark cloud is inside me and I am running, screaming to my room.
I cannot get the bees out and I am about to become hysterical when a voice softly speaks, “Just relax. Let them in.” In that moment I just allow the swarm inside me, to be inside me. It is done, they are in. I accept it. Then… everything stops and I feel myself glowing, transforming, changing into this hybrid bee, thing. A person but larger, bigger, and I have compound eyes.
Then again the change is not done and I continue to evolve. I walk out of the house. The swarm is still spilling out of the distance and I complete my transformation. I am beautiful. I am flying. I am signing at the top of my lungs Dolly Parton’s “I will always love you.” I am crying in joy.
The Swarm? It vanishes. The portal closes. I wake, in tears.
This, I have been told is shadow work. This I call making the one we cast out, Sacred. The Sacred Other. And this has been the tool that has evolved out of my own dreams, where I have processed it, into my life. The snake that devours, and sheds. The integrative embrace, in spite of fear, to allow transformation.
What I know is integration through dream work, and my nature which has always been the outsider. As a small child I cried when Godzilla driven off into the ocean. I cried when King Kong shot from the top of the Empire State building (and that’s the Jessica Lang version, thank you) tumbling to his death. I cheered Carrie White, I identified with her when I grew up. The non-bloody and not-gone-bananas version of course.
I used to have dreams about taking everything that everyone discarded, all the poisons and trash, the unwanted, and taking it into me, becoming this dark lumbering heaping “trash monster.” I was never ill. I was just happy. I was loving. I was never bad. No, but I was me.
My shadows lately have altered their appearance. They have taken on new forms, new invitations from me to me, wrapped in dark clothes and I’m catching myself as I pin them to others, especially those closest around me. Shadow-dance, yes.
The purpose of the Sacred Other, a URL I purchased a while ago but only made use after the domain sharks stole my earlier URL, was to make sacred the outcast. To embrace the hermit, the different, the “Other” that we create.
So my invitation to you in considering the Devil, Key XV in the Tarot, is to look past and through the idea of temptation, deception and trickery into the shadow you may cast. It’s no easy reminder but as an individual I try to make a practice of turning the finger I point out at another and direct it back at myself first. You know is it my shadow or is this really not my issue?
I know. I admit I use the Tarot for personal advancement. I take the Keys and unlock these parts of the mystery of myself and the Tarot can be used for many others things including deduction of choices, divination, and magick.
I leave you with a few definitions of the Devil in the Tarot and a last thought.
“Our thoughts should be fluid the result of experience, malleable to change, to shifting and forming into new ideas especially if we are an artist, mystically oriented, magickally minded, poet and the like because ideas are one half of our greatest resources as visionary folks. I don’t think they need to be sticky, stuck, or for generally fixed (with respect to structure) because they are the colors we use to understand, express, and interact with the world around us.
Emotions too should be more flowing because they are the fuel of our true Will. When we lock them up, or pool them to keep them lidded we create hazards. Deficits and excesses. When this emotional body is in its natural and dazzling momentum fast or slow, interactive with the sensations of life, unattached but involved, we have emotional flow.
These things bring access to our awareness and in this space there is no Other that is not given the opportunity to be sacred with the self.
Make things sacred with yourself, do not make demons and if you do, invite them to the fire.”
Biddy Tarot: “The card of the Devil represents the hidden forces of negativity that constrain you and that trick you into thinking you are imprisoned by external forces ultimately out of your control. The Devil is an inner force within each of us. He represents our fears, addictions, and other harmful impulses.” Full description here [LINK]
Joan Bunning, Learn Tarot: “Lucifer. Mephistopheles. Satan. The Prince of Darkness. No matter what we call him, the Devil is our symbol for what is bad and undesirable. From our human perspective, we see the world as a struggle between light and dark. We want to vanquish the bad so the good can prevail. In fact, good and bad cannot be separated, just as you cannot separate a shadow from its source. Darkness is simply the absence of light, and it is caused by errors that hide the truth. Card 15 shows us these errors.” [LINK]
Aeclectic Tarot: “There are, I think, three essential points that a reader must make when this card appears. First, that we have to be honest about our weaknesses and addictions, denial only makes it easier for them to control us. Second, that it is natural to have self-interest, a desire for pleasure even and, occasionally, to indulge in excesses. Doing so might even be essential to achieving our aims. We didn’t fly to the Moon by being moderate, safe or cautious, by resisting temptation.” [LINK]
ATA-Tarot.com: “The most important lesson the Devil teaches you is that you can free yourself from whatever restrictions are holding you back, at any time you choose to. The chains that bind the figures on the Devil card are loose enough to be thrown off at any time. There is still positive energy within you that you can tap to break free – but only if you can let go of the materialism and that the Devil embodies. In the end, the best way to free yourself of the Devil’s bondage is not to submit to it, but to accept it as the shadow that must be cast wherever there is light. Having accepted the shadow, you can look to the light.” [LINK]
Natasha Dern: Sub-Personalities… This one is for your consideration… “Sub-personalities, in transpersonal psychology, are personas or pieces of the whole of the overall personality, which have a life of their own, beliefs, thoughts, feelings, intentions and agendas. There’s the rebel and the martyr, the seducer and the saboteur, the judge and the critic and a host of others, each with its own mythology, all co-existing within a person. Issues and conflict arise when the polarity of a sub-personality becomes imbalanced. When opposing tensions sets in, the mind is clouded with conflicting views, which hinders its ability to make decisions that are appropriate. How can you figure out which sub-personality/personalities are calling the shots?” [LINK]
I cannot convince you to lose your faith, that would be counter to my path. I can hope that what I write resonates with you in the hidden places and nourishes those secret parts, encourages integrative growth through acceptance, compassion, and self-reflection. Embrace fear.
Do not make devils. Make things sacred with self.
With much love and respect.
- “When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our… (lifencompass.tumblr.com)
- Golden Universal Tarot (llewellyn.com)
- “Many native traditions held clowns and tricksters as… (lifencompass.tumblr.com)
- Rabbit Tricksters (twotwitchatale.wordpress.com)
- The Trickster (ariaphoenix.com)
© 2013, Scott K Smith. All rights reserved.