“The Devil’s Spectrum” Tarot Spread
Header Image Note: Thanks to Freyja at Falcon Cloak Tarot for the ITD Blog Hop design. This image of the Devil card is from the Aquatic Tarot.
Hopefully, you got here via Dauna’s amazing video post about the Temperance card, if you missed it click here.
The Devil card had been stalking me for about a year, so it was no real surprise when it was randomly chosen for me for this blog hop. Throughout the year, I’d done quite a bit of research on this card and even chose to create my own version of it for the in a recent group project. Amongst the usual associations with the devil card are bondage, addiction, obsession, indulgence, ignorance, materialism, enslavement, lust, greed, power..you get the idea. A lesson of the card, if you are working with a Rider-Waite-Smith-based deck, is often pointed out to be the loose chains around the people’s necks. That is, they can remove these chains at any time. And likewise, you can be free of all that is associated with the devil card at any time if you choose to be.
When this card first popped up in my spreads, it was coming up as a healing card, as in “do this to heal.” I am not one to change up my question when a difficult card shows up. For example, many people would suggest this card in such a position is telling you what NOT to do in order to heal. But that was NOT my question. Instead, I saw this as a great opportunity to explore the lesser known side of the Devil card.
I personally believe that every card has positive and negative aspects, despite our tendencies to see just one end of the spectrum in a given card. In fact, I had an extremely hard time pulling anyone into my particular exploration of this card amongst the tarot community. I had strangers telling me to send them personal messages so that they could help me with my addictions. One person text-yelled at me that I was IN HELL and to RUN RUN RUN from whatever it was they thought I was getting myself into. In other words, I was being told to remove those chains. But my intuition told me, my healing was in those chains somehow. To remove them was to reject an opportunity for healing.
So, what does it mean to be chained to something? For some reason, I will always remember a lecture that was presented at my college orientation. The speaker commented on our choice to be there that morning and received the expected groans from a crowd of mostly 18 year olds who would have preferred to be in bed. He proceeded to speak about the consequences we would have faced if we had chosen not to attend the “mandatory” orientation. And he asked that we take ownership of our choice to be there that morning.
We all have things in our life that we groan about, things we “have” to do. This can include obligations to our families, our partners, our spiritual communities, our work, our diets, our exercise routine, our meditation practice, and so on. When we honor our commitments to these things, it is seen as a “good thing” by society and not what is often associated with the Devil card in the tarot. But when I see the loose chains around those people’s necks, these are the things that come to my mind. Unlike true addiction, it is actually relatively easy to skip our morning yoga practice or to call in sick to work for the day.
Now, what turns a healthy commitment into a heavy chain around your neck? Well, you do–when you groan about it. Anytime you speak about your commitments in the context of obligations, you have created a chain that you then have to walk around with. The truth is you DON’T have to attend the family dinner and you DON’T have to eat healthy; you DON’T even have to pick you children up from school and you DON’T have to return the car you borrowed from a friend. You either choose to or you don’t. Of course, if you choose not to, there will be greater or lesser consequences to face for sure! But if you do choose to honor your commitments, and you do it only to avoid the consequences, then you do so with chains on.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are people that avoid making commitments all together. These people value their freedom above all else. They might not suffer any obvious consequences from not fulfilling their commitments because they never made those commitments in the first place. Perhaps they never attended the family get-togethers and aren’t even expected to. Maybe they’ve opted for work that allows them to travel the world, change location regularly, and don’t actually have a home base that they return to. You may live at this end of the spectrum yourself in only small ways like deciding you’re just going to eat whatever you want and not be bothered with an exercise routine. Despite it’s reputation, freedom is something one can get stuck in as well. Not having committed to a place, you may suffer a lack of rootedness and feel that you have no home. Not having committed to people, you may sense a lack of connection and community.
From both ends of the spectrum, it is easy to take a “must be nice” attitude toward the other as we bemoan our respective obligations or lack of connection. The truth is, we would all benefit from a healthy balance of commitment and freedom in our lives. And this begins with owning our choices as just that, choices, and basing our choices on the rewards that they bring rather than the consequences that they help us to avoid. To help you, and myself, get some perspective on where we stand on the spectrum, I’ve created The Devil’s Spectrum tarot spread for you to try. To help answer any questions that may come up as you use it, I’ll walk you through my own. For this spread, I used the Pagan Otherworlds Tarot by Uusi.
Here’s what I got:
- Where I stand: Knight of Swords, reversed. The knight is certainly committed to a goal! However, he values his freedom to pursue that goal in his own unique and passionate way. This tells me that both freedom and commitment run deep with me.
- My attitude toward freedom: The Devil! Wouldn’t you know it, the thing I tend to indulge in is freedom. This makes perfect sense to me and illustrates why the standard assumptions about the devil card weren’t resonating with me.
- How this serves me: 3 of Swords, reversed. I have broken my own heart open again and again. I am very aware of even subtle shifts of emotion and check in with them often. My empath abilities are built on knowing myself first.
- How this limits me: Judgement. By avoiding some of society’s expected commitments, I have also missed out on certain milestones. Ironically, too much freedom can result in getting stuck. The usual ceremonies and celebrations can serve as markers that let us know where we are in life and can be especially helpful when it’s time to move on.
- My attitude toward commitment: Queen of Cups, reversed. My commitment is to my heart and intuitive abilities. I honestly can’t get myself to do anything unless I can find a reason to really really care. If something doesn’t feel right, my mind sort of shuts down. Some people are very visual or verbal..I know the world by how it feels.
- How this serves me: Four of Swords. There is a synthesis between the inner and outer me. Authenticity is super important to me, and, mostly, I am able to meet my own expectations in this area.
- How this limits me: Knight of Cups. All this has been very me-focused so far. This knight feels like someone else. Sometimes self sufficiency can get in the way of letting others in with their own burst-open hearts.
- Root of my attitudes: 5 of Cups, reversed. This feels like not fitting in. I’ve certainly gone through a lot of that and it leaves its mark. My relationships to freedom and commitment are built on learning the hard way that we really have no choice but to be ourselves.
- Suggested action: The World. This tells me that I need to turn my attention outward more often to find balance. There are opportunities I am missing out on by keeping to myself.
- Result of this action: Justice, reversed. While the 4 of Swords spoke of a balance between the inner and outer me, the suggestion made by the World card will bring a balance between me and the world around me.
If you do decide to try out this spread, please leave a comment and let me know how it went. And be sure to tag me in your pics on Instagram!
Much love and thanks to Bree Ferguson at Nym’s Divination for putting this blog hop together ♥ Please visit Trivia’s blog here for another look at the Devil and archetypes in the tarot. Thank you for reading!