I’ve written interpretations for every card in the Wild Unknown Tarot. As the box of the deck states, there are no rights or wrongs. These are simply my perspectives on the tarot card meanings. I hope you find them useful!
Click here for a directory of all posts in my Wild Unknown series.
Deck Creator’s Keywords: negativity, materialism, addiction
Carrie’s Keywords: bondage, inner demons, materialism
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The Devil Tarot Card Meanings in the Wild Unknown
A smug goat looks out at us from the card. He’s got a sly smile going on and we can only see one eye, giving him a shady air. His ears are cocked to the side, alert and ready to take advantage of what he hears.
Upon his forehead is an upside-down pentagram, a symbol our culture has come to associate with negative forces. Elphias Levi said: “A reversed pentagram, with two points projecting upwards, is a symbol of evil and attracts sinister forces because it overturns the proper order of things and demonstrates the triumph of matter over spirit. It is the goat of lust attacking the heavens with its horns.”
Indeed, the Devil card shows the human tendency to value the physical world over the spiritual world. This can manifest in fairly inconspicuous ways; such as enjoying decadent food, having sex, or doing anything else that might be deemed naughty. This can also manifest in more insidious ways; such as becoming stuck in destructive behaviors, bowing to your inner demons, or any other way that you might cause damage to yourself or others.
The card’s background is dark and bleak. There is no sign of light, the Devil dwells in the realm of shadow. Exploring your shadows and confronting your inner demons is crucial, because it’s when they are left to roam freely in the dark that they cause real issues. By bringing these parts of yourself to the light, you can learn to accept, heal and integrate them.
The goat’s feet are surrounded by orange and red flames, yet he does not burn. This tricky, treacherous fellow can walk through fire (maybe he’s even the one conjuring the blaze). He looks as though he wants to lure others with his wily ways. We’ve come to associate the force we call “the devil” with addiction, enslavement, and negative patterns. Once you become aware this energy is at work, you can begin to free ourselves.
The Devil Tarot Card Meanings in General
Many depictions of the Devil show a goat, or Baphomet. The first insinuation of goats being associated with the Devil comes from the bible: “When the Son of Man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations; and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats.”
But then in the Middle Ages things really got heated up when the collective folkloric vision of the Devil began to get mis-mashed with various beast-like pagan gods (including Pan, depicted as part man, part goat).
Fast forward to the 1800s and Elphias Levi created an image of Baphomet (a figure we don’t know much about, but which the Knights Templar were accused of worshipping in the middle ages). Levi had a more all encompassing vision of Baphomet, not as a figure of pure evil but more of a unity of radical opposites such as good and evil. The image of the Devil in the Rider Waite tarot was inspired by Levi’s depiction of Baphomet.
In the 1960s, the Church of Satan was founded and used Baphomet in their iconography. Thusly the image of Devil-as-goat has been firmly embedded in our cultural associations.
In a reading
The Devil card often draws your attention to where you feel trapped, restricted or blocked. In some cases, this bondage is caused by an external situation (a negative work environment, a toxic relationship and so on). But more often, these energies are manifesting internally. As such, it is important to willingly look at your inner demons: your secrets, your shames, your addictive tendencies.
This can seem quite heavy, but the truth is that simply acknowledging what is enslaving you is a hugely powerful step in finding liberation. Once you are able to clearly identify your demons, you can get to know them better and find appropriate ways to free yourself.
This card can also serve as a reminder to look for satisfaction beyond the material trappings of your life. It is natural to crave certain comforts of the flesh, but those passing things rarely bring you lasting fulfillment. The Devil asks you to look beyond the trappings of the material realm and make space also for the ethereal things that bring your life meaning.