After we realize the importance of Temperance, we come to one of the most taunting and dangerous cards of the Tarot, the Devil. According to modern Christian understanding, the Devil has become a sort of a adversary of God, as if the Source of All Being could have an opposite. However, the Devil most greatly represents our own struggle with and willingness to participate in our own evolution.
In much of modern Christiandom, the Devil, or Satan, is given immense credence, and although they call him the enemy, he is glorified as being the ruler of this world. Unfortunately, this undue respect has much of the western world believing that most everything and everyone we meet is beset with evil and must be destroyed so that God can one day create Heaven and Earth 2.0. Based on a long grudge with nature due to its purported inherent sinfulness and general ickiness, this may, on a more than subconscious level, have something to do with the large swath of apathy over environmental care seen in the church.
However, the Devil doesn’t really have as much power as he is often given, and the evolution of his character actually draws a lot from the character Pan, more of a trickster than an emissary of evil. Half-man and half-goat, the Devil does indeed tempt humans, luring them into dancing with addictions and base physical pleasures such as sex, drugs, and all the rest of the sins of this world. But as we see in the card, these chains around our necks are loose enough to release ourselves at any time. Although the word “devil” comes from the Greek “diabolos” and means “accuser,” he stands now as someone we can accuse for our own shortcomings instead of taking responsibility and freeing ourselves from these illusions we allow to beset us.
This bestial, mythical creature does indeed appeal to our carnal desires, but on the path toward greater understanding and personal evolution, often these dances with the devil are used as conduits for our growth. Not necessarily the source of all suffering, sometimes a good adversary is just what we need to become the heroes we are capable of being. And sometimes, whatever he uses to trip us up might just be the challenge we need to overcome in order to reach the next level in our ascent to self actualization. Though he may be dark, scary, and probably a bit stinky, this imp is not really our enemy, but a fellow sojourner playing his role along the Unbroken Path.
But be not deceived. The Devil is a wily character, and the longer we dance with him, the more we are dissuaded from our path. And though the steps we dance to are, in fact, a part of our path, we must eventually release ourselves from whatever may bind us and bring the dance to an end.