The Devil

Alternative Names: Pan, Temptation

Number: 15

Astrological Sign or Planet: Capricorn the Goat

Element: Earth

Key Meanings: Enslavement and temptation

The Devil card in Tarot is about ambitions and is also synonymous with temptation, addiction, and depression. The basic symbols of this card are a winged and horned Devil on a black pedestal, naked male and female figures, chains, and an inverted pentagram.

Upright Meaning: Superficially, The Devil appears to be one of the more alarming cards of the Major Arcana. However, he does not represent satanic forces with evil intent, and it is important to remember this when doing readings. He is the horned god of pagan times, connected to the fertility rites banned by the Church, which feared the power of pagan rituals, especially those including sexual activity.

When The Devil shows up in a reading, depending upon his position in the spread, he is telling you that you need to re-evaluate your relationship to material things, which are keeping you chained. It’s time to look at whatever is limiting you and holding you back from personal growth, especially abusive, obsessive, or harmful relationships. You are being called upon to confront your fears about financial security and social and material success—the things of this world. The Devil is a reality check that tells you to let go of old fears, hang-ups, inhibitions, and ways you manipulate others to satisfy your needs instead of taking responsibility for yourself in a positive manner. Whatever the situation, you are the only one who can change it. The two chained figures on the card represent bondage to the material realm. Their loose chains indicate your potential for attaining freedom by relinquishing obsessive ambition and excessive attachment to the things of this world.

Reversed Meaning: When reversed, this is one of the few cards whose meaning becomes more hopeful. With the upright Devil, it’s time to acknowledge how you may be trapped and to begin to to search for the light. When reversed, the Devil suggests the decision you need to make will be easier than you think. When the card is upside down, the chains around the couple are more lax than they appear, so a situation is not quite as drastic as you first thought. Now is the time to make your move.

In terms of health, a difficult cycle is about to end. Addiction and bad habits become easier to manage and eventually banish, and you or those close to you can look forward to recovery.

About the Deck: “Ciro Marchetti’s Tarot of Dreams” from