Give The Devil his due

I have read the tarot cards for a number of years now, and briefly, well in the past, had a flirtation with plying my understanding of the cards for payment. Nowadays I draw cards for myself and my daughter, and occasionally others who request it.

I use the Rider Waite deck. The cards are kept in a bag which I made from deep purple velvet ornamented with stems and leaves picked out in gold. This lives by my computer where I do most of my writing.

A couple of days ago I drew cards for myself using the Celtic cross spread. In the position that represented me, the querent, there appeared The Devil. I confess that this card does not fit well with my personal pagan beliefs, for several reasons.

The devil appears in our society on a regular basis. A child plays up and people will say ‘he’s got the devil in him today’. Someone will play ‘the devil’s advocate’. The person you’ve just being talking about arrives at your door – ‘speak of the devil’. The idea of the devil is deeply ingrained in our psyche.

Yet the devil that we know and refer to is the fallen angel of Christianity. For me, the image on the Devil card in this deck is the devil of Christian concept. I cannot relate to him as a pagan. For me the devil does not exist. The existence of a devil takes responsibility away from the individual. I will not accept a devil as an excuse for wrong-doing. If I do wrong, whether legally, morally or ethically, that is my decision. My weakness is my issue. A devil has not made me do it.

So what did this card in this position mean for me?  The key I felt lay in the chained people. The chains around their necks appear heavy and are attached to the devil’s pedestal. At first glance these people seem to have no choice but to remain. Closer observation shows that their chains are loose and they could lift them over their heads if they chose to do so, setting themselves free.

The devil is seen in our culture as a negative entity so I looked at the negative aspects of my personality. (It was one of those days when my head went into overdrive. I faced some hard truths.)

My health as you may already know is an issue for me. I am urged by my doctors to take better care of myself. I had a routine blood test. The next day I picked up my phone from the room where it was on charge. I had three missed calls. I had not heard it ring. These calls were from my doctor. I had a bit of a meltdown. What was wrong that my doctor had tried to get hold of me three times?! I rang the surgery but it was almost closing time, too late in the day for me to speak to the doctor.

Of course, in my funk, I had forgotten the existence of voice mail. My phone pinged with a message to ask if I would like to check my voice mail. And there was the bright and breezy message from my GP. ‘Nothing to worry about, but I want to start you on a different medication.’

But those few minutes of panic had prompted me to ask myself why I had responded like that. The answer was simple – I hadn’t been following all the advice. Lose weight, exercise more.

The devil card made me question why I hadn’t taken the advice. I have tried over time but always failed. The thing that has held me back is not some devil out there, but my internal dialogue. It’s too hard. I can’t do it. It would be too much effort. I’m in pain, it would hurt. I would be miserable giving up the food I love – I don’t have many bad habits – food is my bit of comfort. And the big one – it’s not worth trying, I always fail.

Wow. Is this what the card meant for me? Was I reading it right?

I put the cards I had drawn back into the pack. I shuffled them as I always do before putting them away. A card fell from the pack. You’ve guessed it – the Devil. For me this was confirmation that I was on the right track. I make no promises but I am examining how to deal with my negative beliefs, how to make a fresh start with an awareness of what is holding me back. With this insight, I am hoping to make a difference.

On a side note, while writing this blog I wanted to look more closely at the Devil card to make sure I had the image clearly in mind while describing it. I took the cards from their bag and shuffled them – I always do this at first contact and last contact. I took up the top card ready to start looking through the cards till I found the Devil. And guess what, that little Devil was on top of the deck. He must have known I was coming for him

Portland Jones, Disability Liaison for Pagan Federation Midlands