Tarot Journey: The Lovers and The Devil

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This month’s Tarot Journey focused on the the Lovers and the Devil, with a brief glimpse at the sixes in the Pips.

We discussed numerological and astrological associations, and then dove into the history and interpretation – which is always where the discussion livens considerably!

The Lovers card, of course, is about relationships – not just spouses, or significant others, but all kinds of relationships.  One of the strongest messages this card can carry is the necessity of being in right relationship with one’s self before one can be in right relationship with anyone else.  In decks such as the RWS, which show two humans, they generally represent the Anima and Animus, and the union of these two aspects of Self – knowing one’s self, and learning to love one’s self.

A lot of people seem to lose sight of this need for self-awareness, and become so focused on finding Mr./Ms. Right that they lose touch with their own self – and then wonder why they keep attracting the wrong partners.  If you’re not projecting your authentic self, you’re not going to attract your authentic partner. Simple, and yet.

The angel in the RWS and similar decks is Raphael – “Healing Power of God”.  What is more healing than the power of Love?

To quote Rachel Pollack in Tarot Wisdom: “When we feel most human – weak, vulnerable, struggling – we must embrace our own divinity. When we feel most angelic and powerful, wise, archetypal, we should make sure we embrace our humanity. And these two aspects do not simply join together, they love each other. This, too, is the message of the card.”

The Devil card is also about relationships – and pretty much guaranteed unhealthy, obsessive, or limiting relationships.  The voluntary refusal to see things – and one’s self – as they really are, the willing denial of reality (regardless of the pain to self and to others), corrupt the self, destroy creative energy, and lead to regrets, remorse, and recriminations.

The Angel here is Uriel – “The Light of God”, or Lucifer – “Bringer of Light”.  But what is this Angel shedding light upon? And, with so much light, how is it possible that we still do not see?

If we look at the figures as they are portrayed in most cards, they are not looking at each other, the Devil, or even the torch – their eyes are cast down, or staring off to the side, unseeing anything actually in front of them.  They are seeing only what they allow themselves to see, which bears little, if any, resemblance to what actually is. Most of the figures are drawn in such a way that they could easily remove the chains, ropes, or whatever ties that bind them – but they cannot see that they have this freedom, this ability.  They are focused solely on the darkness.

In readings, this card can indicate serious dysfunction, denial, and addiction.  Less extreme, although problematic, it may indicate an inability to break free of old emotional patterns, which can create the same problems as denial and addiction.

What is the first step in dealing with the Devil?  Name the problem. Admit the obsession, addiction, dysfunction. Shine light on the shadow, and see the source for what it really is.  What appears to be a 20 foot tall monster in shadow may be only a six inch tall Godzilla doll.  Which would you rather deal with – a 20 foot shadow, or a six inch toy?

I created a spread for working with this card, called “The Devil Made Me Do It”. Everyone did their own reading, and then the group took turns interpreting for each other.

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1. The illusions / delusions / unclear thinking that led to the situation.

2. The emotional confusion / denial that led to the situation.

3. What I need to acknowledge before I can change the situation.

Everyone was brave in confronting their issues, and honest in their sharing.  This was not an easy spread, despite its apparent simplicity.  Confronting one’s own baggage, and taking responsibility for one’s troubles is never easy, especially in a group setting.  It was a dramatic demonstration of the power of Tarot to help people see – and accept – their emotional realities.

As Alejandro Jodorowsky and Marianne Costa write about the Devil in The Way of Tarot: “Passion above all else: amorous passion and creative passion. This card contains all the hidden potentials of the human subconscious, both negative and positive. This is also the card of temptation: a summons to search for the occult treasure, immortality, and powerful energy buried in the psyche, which is necessary for all great human endeavors.”

“Occult” simply means “hidden”.  Besides repressing our negative aspects in our shadow, what treasures do we hide because of fear or shame? What do we deny about ourselves that is good, glorious, and generous?  Working with the Devil card can be an intense emotional experience, but there is light in that darkness, and we can use that light to claim our talents and liberate ourselves from our own oppression.  Again, quoting Rachel, “Belief holds us back more than actual oppression.”  Or, as Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”

We must be willing to face the Devil within, to shine light on the darkness, or we risk living a half-life of unrealized dreams, unused talents, and permanent dissatisfaction. We certainly need love and support from family, friends, and network; we may even need professional help of some variety. But until we are wiling to look at what lies within us, we will not be able to make the most of what lies before us.

“It is no good casting out devils. They belong to us, we must accept them and be at peace with them.” ~ D. H. Lawrence

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