Thursday 20 July 2017

The devil his due

Fournier Tarot de Marseille
Funny I should draw this card this morning, as I was just reading about it in Tarot Triumphs by Cherry Gilchrist before I logged on.

You may notice the TdM Diable is not particularly 'Satanic', as you'd see in some later decks, such as Morgan Greer or even Rider Waite Smith. Neither is he the 'misrepresented Pan' figure of natural carnality seen in decks such as Druidcraft or Tarot of the Hidden Realm. Here, Diable is a 'squat, hairy creature' based on 'a stock type devil originating with the Persians or Egyptians and reach us via Byzantine art', according to Gilchrist.  She says the traditional TdM Devil is a 'stupid, comic type devil,' because mocking him reduces his power, and this technique was widely used by medieval monks in their illuminations.

Gilchrist gives what I consider a contemporary interpretation of the Devil. In some instances, we spend so much time giving the devil his due, we forget he's actually not a very nice guy at all. Gilchrist does not fall into this trap. 'People or situations that are diminishing our capacity to act, think, or have a chance of becoming free, we must first recognise that we are enslaved...a situation of very limited choice.'  She says nothing about carnal appetites being neither good nor evil and how misunderstood the Horned One has been. Thankfully.

I wonder what the Devil card signified to 15th century folk who saw it either in a tarocchi game or in divination. I wonder what it meant to readers down the centuries, before Golden Dawn and other 'esoteric' schools latched on to Tarot.

But these are just idle thoughts, because our minds are not the minds of 15th century folk, and it would be silly to think that Tarot interpretations that meant something to them would mean anything to us. Our life experience and the way we find meaning in it are really entirely different. (Notice I didn't use the word 'resonate'. Shudder.)

So I guess today I need to be aware that there may be unpleasant choices to be made, and there will invariably come a time to pay the piper.


  1. As someone who is into chanting, I'm surprised you don't like the word resonate. Our whole being resonates when we chant, after all :)
    For me, enslaved is an excellent word for the Devil. Carnal desires may not be good or bad, but if you're enslaved to them, then they're bad for you!
    Hope your day wasn't too devilish ;)

    1. I just think 'resonate' is overused, and it makes me cringe in the same way I do when someone says something was 'gifted' to them instead of 'given', or that a group will 'conference' instead of confer', or describing someone as 'certificated' instead of 'certified'. I know those are instances of a type of misuse of words and resonate is not, but...I never said I was logical! :)


Leave a comment here: