Shall I tell you what the real evil is? To cringe to the things that are called evils, to surrender to them our freedom, in defiance of which we ought to face any suffering.
~ Seneca (Roman philosopher, mid-1st century C.E.)
This is certainly not the card I would wish for this week. After a long hiatus, and after the quiet respite of last week’s Hermit, it appears that The Devil has come calling for us.
This card has not come up since March/April of 2012, in the midst of the last presidential election. Previous to that, it visited in June, 2008. Are we sliding back into the pre-Obama, pre-economic crash hubris of that time?
The Devil is all about our relationship with our fears. And the R-W-S Tarot places The Devil directly in contrast with The Lovers card. The Devil is the number fifteen in the Major Arcana. This reduces to six, which is the Lovers card.
Look at both together and you’ll see that the couple is the same. The composition of the two cards is also identical – the two nude figures, with the woman on the left, the male on the right.
In The Lovers, we see the angel Michael (some believe he is Raphael) above them, who the woman gazes upon, while the man looks towards her.
In The Devil card, perched on the slab above them is the Horned One, also sometimes considered to be the angel Uriel. Both human figures look neither at him, nor at one another, only blankly downward.
In both cards, the supernatural being overseeing the couple is offering a blessing.
In fact, look closely at The Devil and you will see that the chains the man and woman wear are loose. If they would only awaken from their trance, they could escape.
Complacency and Evil
The Devil of the Tarot has been called the dark side of the collective unconscious.
And certainly, we are seeing a lot of that repressed, distorted shadow energy acting out in the public – from the popularity of a “textbook case” mentally ill presidential candidate, to the murderous rampage of a “pro-life” supporter, our seeming inability to overcome those who refuse to curb gun violence, to turning our backs on men, women, and children refugees, because there may be a chance of danger.
And despite massive injustice between the super-wealthy and the struggling middle- and lower-classes, it’s business as usual.
Also, this week, in the wake of the deadly terror attacks in Paris, world leaders are meeting for a summit — yet again! — to attempt to agree to take meaningful action regarding the havoc of global climate change, already taking a deadly toll.
Still, those entrenched in the destructive, greedy status quo can be expected to thwart all progress on any of these issues that might entail any sacrifice or risk on their part.
And if, like the couple in The Devil, we ignore our ability to enact changes, we can anticipate nothing short of the slow, steady destruction of our free and open civilization as we have known it.
Saturn vs. Neptune
The Devil card is associated with the sign of Capricorn, which is ruled by Saturn. This week, we are now feeling the early shock waves of the first of three exact Saturn-Neptune squares.
Astrologer Molly Hall writes:
This cosmic choreography of Saturn squaring Neptune on certain cues over the next two years is worth a closer look. It promises to intensify a phenomenon that’s already underway.
And that’s the adventure of finding meaning — and a guiding vision — in chaotic, even surreal times.
Both planets are in mutable signs, with Saturn in Sagittarius and Neptune in Pisces. Since both are to do with visions, in all terrain from the worldly to the otherworldly, there can be swift and continual morphing of this question: What’s possible?
Reality itself can seem loosely held together, and at times, shared assumptions are busted up, in favor of more expansive — and inspiring — world views. Saturn aims to restructure the philosophical outlook, and free the mind to travel beyond known boundaries.
In its square to Neptune (Pisces), there can be disillusionment, and a dissolving of what seemed so real. And in that moment, there can be the urge to escape, if it’s too shattering a process for the psyche. But it can also be liberating, when the blinders are off, and there’s more to see and do and be.
What will it take, for each of us to take off our own blinders? How do we, you and I, personally address such massive problems? Because if we don’t, one by one, adding up — then, the next card of the Tarot is The Tower, which is how Divine rectification rains down on us, whether we like it or not.
The entrenched powers-that-be count on our inability or unwillingness to challenge them. Beware of being tricked into despair. You are not helpless. The world is not hopeless. Do not give your power away.
As Thomas Jefferson said, “We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.”
In our communities, and in our personal lives, do we ignore addictions, self-sabotage, and behaviors that cause harm? How are we complacent? In what ways do we shun creative risks, preferring instead “the devil we know?”
Do we feed the fears and projections of our own Shadows? What bargains with the Devil have we made, in order that we not see or act upon the uncomfortable, inconvenient truths around us?
Like the apathetic couple in The Devil, the constant barrage of fear, cynicism, neglect, and denial becomes a habit that eventually numbs us; we become conditioned to it. Our chains become so all-pervasive, we can barely discern them.
Waking Up from the Hypnosis of Helplessness
What will it take to awaken us? What is the straitjacket we have assumed is normal, or that some would have us believe we deserve?
This week, I urge you to resist the urge to be the passive bystander in your own life. Get angry; get sad; get real; get moving. Whatever it takes. Just wake up. We cannot afford the indulgence of anyone’s self-pity, denial, or inertia.
We all have our distortions, fears, and blind spots. But there is great hope in knowing that once we are willing to look The Devil in the eye, we can take back our power.
Remember that the opposite of love is not hate. It is indifference. The most malevolent acts of mankind always come, not from passion, but from apathy.
If we cringe at our fears, and turn away from those in need, we empower evil in the world.
May this card be a wake-up call that offers a new beginning to all of us.