The Major Arcana Tarot cards (also
known as the trump cards) form the foundation of the Tarot deck and consists of
twenty-one numbered cards and one unnumbered card (the Fool).
They represent a path to spiritual self-awareness and depict the various stages we encounter as we search for greater meaning and understanding. In this way, they hold deeply meaningful lessons.
The Major Arcana Tarot card meanings illustrate the structure of human consciousness and, as such, hold the keys to life lessons passed down through the ages. The imagery of the Major Arcana Tarot cards is filled with wisdom from multiple cultures and esoteric traditions, including the Egyptian, Buddhist, Hindu, Sufi, Hebrew and Christian religions.
The Major Arcana cards can also represent Carl Jung’s archetypes – consistent, directing patterns of influence that are an inherent part of human nature. They are themes which mark, portray and symbolise stages in our psyche whereby we aim to become a balanced and integrated person. Along this journey, we encounter challenges, face adversity, perform labours, make hard decisions and fight opposing forces. Each step of the way brings us closer to enlightenment. This is often referred to as the journey of the Fool.
Major Arcana Cards in a Tarot Reading
When a Tarot reading is predominantly made up of Major Arcana Tarot cards, the client is experiencing life-changing events which will have long-term influences. There are important lessons which the client must pay attention to in order to progress further in their spiritual and personal quest.
If many of the Major Arcana Tarot cards are reversed, however, it is indicative that the client is not paying attention to these important life lessons and must return to the lesson of the previous card before moving forward.
Major Arcana Tarot Spreads
It is possible to conduct a Tarot reading only using the twenty-two Major Arcana cards. This method is typically used for Tarot readings relating to spiritual self-awareness or where you require deep insight from the collective unconscious.
Devil Tarot Card Meanings Keywords
Upright: Bondage, addiction, sexuality, materialism
Reversed: Detachment, breaking free, power reclaimed
Devil Tarot Card Meanings and Description
Devil Tarot Card Meanings tarot card meaning
The card of the Devil portrays a Satyr, a creature that is half man and half goat. In many myths, the goat was considered an unclean and lustful animal. However, the goat also symbolises the scapegoat, the person or thing upon which people project the inferior side of themselves in order to feel better about themselves. Thus the Devil is the scapegoat we blame for our troubles in life.
The Devil has the wings of a vampire bat, an animal that sucks the life blood out of its prey. This is symbolic of what happens when we give full reign to the realm of our raw desires. We lose our vitality and life energy. The Devil has an almost hypnotic stare, bringing those who come near him within his power. Above him is an inverted pentagram, signifying the darker side of magic and occultism.
At the foot of the Devil stands a man and a woman, both naked and chained to the podium on which the Devil sits. They appear to be held here, against their will, but only closer observation, the chains around their necks are loose and could be easily removed. This symbolises that bondage to the Devil is ultimately a voluntary matter which consciousness can release. The man and woman wear tiny horns like those of the Satyr – they are becoming more and more like the devil the longer they stay here. Both have tails – a further symbol of their animalistic or 'lower' tendencies.
The dark and doorless cave implies that the Devil dwells in the most inaccessible realm of the unconscious and only crisis can break through the walls.
The number 15 in numerology equals 6, the number that corresponds to the Lovers, and here the lovers are shown chained, in bondage to the material, sensual side of their nature. This card is ruled by Capricorn, the goat.
Upright Devil Tarot Card Meanings
The card of the Devil represents the hidden forces of negativity that constrain you and that trick you into thinking you are imprisoned by external forces ultimately out of your control. The Devil is an inner force within each of us. He represents our fears, addictions, and other harmful impulses. He is a master of deception and creates the illusion that you are involuntarily bound to him. However, the figures in this card are free to remove the chains from around their necks, indicating that they have freely given the Devil any power he has over them.
When you see the Devil in a reading, ask yourself where you are feeling stuck or restricted in your life. You may be tricked into believing that you are being controlled by external forces when in fact you have created your own chains of imprisonment and powerlessness. A sense of hopelessness can accompany the Devil. You feel despair and have a pessimistic view of life because you feel that so much is outside of your control. You fear the worst, and this means that your fears have a hold over you and prevent you from leading a more fulfilling and optimistic life. What are the addictions or attachments restraining you from experiencing the freedom of the Fool? Are you giving yourself over to the illusion of helplessness and despair? Know that you have the power within to free yourself from the bondage of the Devil.
The Devil often reflects actual addictions and dependencies in your life, such as alcoholism, drug-taking, unhealthy relationships, over-spending and the like. You think you need something and you are willing to go against what you know to be right and true in order to obtain it. You need to break free of these negative patterns of behaviour by acknowledging the hold that they have over you and the negative impact they are having on your life. Often they are behaviours that are immediately gratifying but which cause longer-term damage to your inner fulfilment.
More generally, the Devil indicates that you are becoming obsessed and hell-bent on a particular idea, situation or endeavour. You are over-investing yourself in one area at the expense of other areas of your life. Often, the Devil card represents an over-dependence on material wealth. You may have become so fixated on becoming a millionaire or owning a fancy car that you have forgotten the importance of investing in your relationships or yourself. You have generated a belief that value lies in how much you earn or how much you own. You have created an unhealthy bond with these materialistic desires and you are now being controlled by this bondage.
Reversed Devil Tarot Card Meanings
Devil Tarot Card Meanings tarot card meaning
The Devil appears when you are feeling trapped by things such as unhealthy or co-dependent relationships, financial debt, unproductive careers, unhealthy lifestyles or addictions, or consumerism and materialism. When the Devil is reversed, it indicates a growing awareness that you are currently in this state and you desire freedom from these harmful bonds. You may now be more willing and able to accept changes in your life and you may be more open to taking on new perspectives. However, it is not going to be an easy journey. You will need to battle your inner fears and anxieties to free yourself from the chains that bind you to your unhealthy habits. You need to conduct an audit of your life and eliminate those things that you know are harmful to you and your inner psyche. It may be about creating a healthier diet, watching less television, quitting smoking, spending more time with your loved ones, or focusing more clearly on your goals. Take this opportunity to bring about positive change in your life by providing yourself with ongoing encouragement and motivation. You must remain faithful to your goal of freedom.
If you have not yet succumbed to bad habits or addictions, be cautious about opening yourself up to these temptations in the future. Look out for anything that might put you in debt or under the control of another person who may not have the best of intentions. Avoid anything that might harm your body physically, such as alcohol, drugs, or any other addictions because these will prove to be very difficult to shake off later. You may believe they are only a temporary and harmless release from your personal issues but they may turn into a significant problem that could cause you a lot of grief in the long-term.
The Devil reversed may also refer to the Buddhist principle of detachment. Detachment, also expressed as non-attachment, is a state in which you overcome your attachment to the desire for things, people or concepts of the world, thus attaining a heightened perspective. The detached person is the happiest, for to live without attachment is to live in true freedom. It is important to note, however, that the Buddhist principle of detachment does not mean that you no longer care for things or people but rather that you separate your own existence from them in such a way that means you can still care about them but that you are not dictated or defined by their existence.
Often, the reversal of this Major Arcana card indicates a need to bring your attention and energy within, so that you can effectively master the spiritual lesson contained in this card. One very deep and profound way to do this is to meditate with the Tarot cards. My latest program, Soul Meditations: A Journey Through the Major Arcana, helps you to do exactly that. This soulful program includes 22 guided meditations with each of the Major Arcana cards which will lead to deep and profound insights as to how you can maximise the potential of this Tarot card.