The goat-headed figure in this card has an inverted pentagram on its forehead. That alone is enough to give it a sinister meaning, “the goat of lust attacking the heavens with its horns, a sign execrated by initiates.” The design of the card also echoes The Lovers, who are facing away from each other. The Devil’s torch is also inverted, possibly having just lit the lake of fire.
If you feel a sense of dread when you see this card, you’ve got the right idea. It represents fear, lies, and the shadow side of all of us. Devil itself comes from a Greek word, “diabolos,” which means slanderer or accuser. This card deals in social and sexual taboos, materialistic concerns, and self-serving attitudes. It seeks out a scapegoat. It can only possess, it cannot love.
If you receive the Devil in a spread, watch for strong interactions with surrounding cards. If this card represents you, you have some soul searching to do, and it won’t be pleasant. You are probably being called to face your addictions, views towards sexuality, or dominant role in relationships. If the Devil represents someone else (especially if paired with the Hanged Man), it shows a lopsided relationship. One person is trying to control the other, sometimes while denying they have any control over the situation. The Devil is often accompanied by passion, which is the hook that draws you in. Working through this relationship and ending it, will result in a feeling of loss. That’s natural. This grief can be hard to navigate, and will create a gravitational pull back into the relationship. Resist that and you will heal. Yield to it, and you will continue the cycle until there is nothing left of you.
In a spread, the Devil is a highly materialistic card. It tends to twist or skew surrounding cards to their more negative extremes
Fool: The Devil and Fool cancel each other out in a spread.
Magician: The Devil in combination with the Magician (Magus or Cobbler in other decks) can indicate a con man. If these two cards are opposite each other in the fifth and tenth positions in the Celtic Cross spread, a delay will occur.
Inverted Empress: If the Devil comes after the Inverted Empress, the two cards will cancel each other out.
Emperor: If the Devil comes before the Emperor, it can indicate national agitation. If the Devil comes after the Emperor, there could be a threat to a national leader.
Hierophant: The Devil in combination with the Hierophant cancel each other out, and can indicate a misuse of power, deception, or spiritual manipulation.
Justice: If the Devil comes before Justice, there will be a miscarriage of Justice. If the Devil comes after Justice, the accusation will be proved false.
Hermit: If the Devil comes before the Hermit, the Devil’s energy will prevail. If the Devil comes after the Hermit, underhanded methods and powerful enemies will be exposed and good will prevail. All of these will be delayed if the Hermit is inverted.
Hanged Man: The Devil in combination with the Hanged Man indicates a partnership, bond, or marriage, in which one partner makes a big sacrifice to ensure contentment. The selfish partner must be prepared to give more.
Star: The Devil and Star cancel each other out.
Moon: The Devil in combination with the Moon is malign, suggesting deceit, especially through keeping secrets or withholding information.
Nine of Cups (Hearts): The Devil in combination with the Nine of Cups (Hearts in other decks) suggests dangerous overindulgence.
The Major Arcana
The twenty-two cards of the Major Arcana tend to hold the big lessons. These cards carry powerful messages. If you are reading a spread of cards, watch for the Major Arcana. If your spread contains more than 30% Major Arcana, you are in the midst of something big, or beyond your control. If most of the cards in the spread are from the Major Arcana, you might be trying to exert too much control. You might have trouble expressing your feelings, or you might be near your breaking point. A spread without any Major Arcana cards could indicate you are hiding from the truth of the issue, or are in some deep distress. If this is the case, it is important to find someone you can trust to guide you through this period of time. In a spread, focus most of your attention on the Major Arcana. The other cards will be useful for clarifying the situation.
The Number — 15, which resolves to 6
Sixes represent support, communication, and perfection.