“No reason to get excited,” the thief he kindly spoke,
“There are many here among us, who feel that life is but a joke.
But you and I, we’ve been through that, and it is not our fate
So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late.”
— Bob Dylan
Now, as we enter the deepest dark time of the year, we have a visit from an important teacher. The Rider-Waite-Smith Devil card has much to say about our relationship with our Shadow and our fears.
The Tarot places it directly in contrast with the Lovers card, because 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 notice 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 card, we see the angel Michael (some believe it 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. Both human figures look neither at him, nor at one another, only blankly downward.
But as big and fearsome as he appears, the Devil does not seem to be doing anything particularly vicious. The chains that the man and woman wear are loose. If they could awaken from their trance of resignation, they could escape.
In a recent conversation with a friend, we were discussing the ways that the people of our nation seem to have become passive and resigned to the evil around us.
Every day, it seems, there are more shocking revelations about the lies we have been fed, questions unanswered or covered up, and staggering, cynical profiteering from human misery and ignorance. Not to mention the in-your-face defiance and destruction of our country’s most valuable assets – the environment, our work force, our international leadership, our schools, our Constitution.
But the silence these days is deafening.
As individuals and as members of the wider society, the appearance of The Devil urges that we consider the ways in which we give up our power. How do we choose to remain in situations that hurt or diminish us? How are we complacent? What deals with the Devil have we made, in order that we not see or act upon the uncomfortable, inconvenient truths around us?
This week, I urge you to resist the urge to be a passive bystander in your own life. Get angry; get sad; get real; get moving. Whatever it takes. Just wake up.
The hour is getting late.