Facing the Devil: Don’t Walk Away

Lately I’ve been working through my feelings on a personal project that has been a major part of my life for quite a while. Sometimes I feel very happy with and fulfilled by what I’m doing, and other times I feel really disillusioned and frustrated, and wonder if I should let it go altogether. Last night I decided to pull some cards about it, asking, “What course should I be taking in terms of this situation?” The first two cards were:

Action to Take: 6 of Swords reversed 

Action to Avoid: 8 of cups 

Morgan Greer Tarot

The message was exceedingly clear – so much so that I laughed a bit when I saw the cards. In the simplest of terms, they were telling me not to walk away from my work.

The third card I pulled was:

Advice to Ponder: 7 of Swords

This card is often seen as indicative of deception, sometimes of being clever or strategic. What this card was shouting at me was: How am I my own worst enemy? What lies do I tell myself? How do I get in my own way, and how is this preventing me from being the best that I can be in terms of my work?

Morgan Greer Tarot

The Devil was the card at the bottom of the deck, which I always look to in order to better understand the underlying energies in a reading.  The Devil supports the 7 of Swords, and addresses the issue of giving my personal power away to worry, self-doubt, negative self-talk, impatience, etc. These cards came as a great relief to me because I know that they’re true, and they give me some important areas to consider and work on. It’s not my work that needs to be abandoned – it’s my relationship to my work, and to myself, that needs to be healed.

Seeing this Devil brought to mind just how much my opinion has changed regarding the depiction in this particular deck. I used to hate the Devil card in the Morgan Greer because it looks just so evil. I saw the Devil’s true nature as something like Pan or Cernunnos: wild, untamed energy, passion, instinct, power that long ago was misrepresented by the Catholic church toward its own ends of converting the masses. But in Tarot we do tend to see this card as an imbalance of power, or a negative manifestation of our primal force. The truth is, the Tarot Devil is not Cernunnos or Pan at all. The Catholic church demonized those good pagan deities and created something to be feared and avoided. That in itself is vice in action, manipulation or perversion of something holy for ultimately ill purposes. And that is what the Devil is all about. When I see this depiction now, I find it very fitting; it’s just as scary and unpleasant-looking as the energy it’s meant to represent: the misuse of our power. When you convince yourself that you’ll never be good enough (for example) you’re abusing and mistreating yourself, you are buying into an illusion that reinforces your own perceived limitations and restrains your sense of agency and power. This is what the Church did with Pan et al: created a frightening pseudo-archetype of a wild and cruel beast so that people would flock to the churches in fear. It worked pretty well. It takes a lot of bravery and trust and courage to vanquish our “demons” and restore our primal force. And if we won’t, or can’t do it, or if we drag our feet too long, there’s always the Tower…. 😉

My cards encourage me not to walk away from my work, but to look the Devil squarely in the eyes, and dive right into my shadow. There I can recover the power that I’m undermining, restore my truth, and embrace my Will as it manifests through the work I’ve been doing.

That should keep me busy for a while!