Occultus Thesaurus - The Devil

The Devil

The Devil from the public domain Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deckLe Diable from the public domain Marseilles tarot deck


The Tarot

by S. L. MacGregor Mathers, originally published 1888.

Meanings

Fatality for Good.

Reversed

Fatality for Evil.


The Pictorial Key to the Tarot

by Arthur Edward Waite, originally published 1910.

Description

The design is an accommodation, mean or harmony, between several motives mentioned in the first part. The Horned Goat of Mendes, with wings like those of a bat, is standing on an altar. At the pit of the stomach there is the sign of Mercury. The right hand is upraised and extended, being the reverse of that benediction which is given by the Hierophant in the fifth card. In the left hand there is a great flaming torch, inverted towards the earth. A reversed pentagram is on the forehead. There is a ring in front of the altar, from which two chains are carried to the necks of two figures, male and female. These are analogous with those of the fifth card, as if Adam and Eve after the Fall. Hereof is the chain and fatality of the material life.

The figures are tailed, to signify the animal nature, but there is human intelligence in the faces, and he who is exalted above them is not to be their master for ever. Even now, he is also a bondsman, sustained by the evil that is in him and blind to the liberty of service. With more than his usual derision for the arts which he pretended to respect and interpret as a master therein, Éliphas Lévi affirms that the Baphometic figure is occult science and magic. Another commentator says that in the Divine world it signifies predestination, but there is no correspondence in that world with the things which below are of the brute. What it does signify is the Dweller on the Threshold without the Mystical Garden when those are driven forth therefrom who have eaten the forbidden fruit.


General Book of the Tarot

by A. E. Thierens, originally published 1930.

Meanings

The goat-like figure recalls the sign Capricorn in which astrology teaches that the planet Mars has its exaltation, the name ‘devil’ means the evil, as is well known, and this alliteration holds good not only in English. It is the symbol of that which to exoteric human understanding is as much of a malefic nature as Venus is benefic. The counterpart of Venus: Mars, planet of pain and struggle, passion and sex-nature, but also of the energy necessary for the process of formation and generation in Nature. Allusion to sex-problems is found in the two human figures, man and woman, chained to the pedestal on which the diabolic figure is seated. That sex-nature binds man, is a natural fact of a more or less occult order.

So it has to do with generation in Nature in every sense and kingdom, though astrology teaches that Mars has a special connection with the animal kingdom and animal passion—passion which drives to the preservation of the body as well as of the race; fighting for existence in both senses of the term. So Mars always figured as the War-lord. Not only sexual energy, but every energy in Nature chains the result to the cause and object to subject. It is unnecessary to work this out any further. We shall be safe in interpreting this card as energy, desire, lust, war, struggle, difficulties, pain, loss, etc. But also as exercise, training; tests to which the personality will be subject.

The torch in the hand of the figure denotes, of course, the fire of passion and desire, which may rise to anger, etc. So it may well be said to represent the condition of “Adam and Eve after the Fall” (W.) The struggle for existence, in short.

P. in regard to this card points to the Hebrew letter “Samech which expresses the same hieroglyphic sign as the Zain (7th arcanum) … etc., a weapon of any kind …” We can see, that this generative force has much to do with the house of marriage.


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