The Devil


"It is a revenge the devil sometimes takes upon the virtuous, that he entraps them by the force of the very passion they have suppressed and think themselves superior to."

- George Santayana

The Devil - Waite Smith
The Devil - Thoth

Associations / Attributions

Hermetic Title
Lord of the Gates of Matter, Child of the Forces of Time
Hebrew Letter
Ayin (Eye)
Sephirotic Path
Tiferet (Beauty) to Hod (Glory)
Potential Uses
Manifesting desire

Card Meanings / Keywords

Golden Dawn

Materiality, material temptation, sometimes obsession.


Violence, vehemence, force, fatality (not necessarily evil). Reversed: Evil fatality, weakness, pettiness, blindness.


Blind impulse, irresistibly strong and unscrupulous, temptation, obsession, obstinacy, endurance.


Self-imposed bondage, manifestation, desire, sexual potency.


The Devil trump is a complex character. While the card bears the title of the personification of evil in most Christian thought, my experiences with this energy are not so clear cut. He does offer up the promise of satisfying one’s every desire and the ability to manifest those desires in the world. Indeed, he may even be seen as the personification of creation through matter fueled by desire. This in itself is not evil; it is simply an aspect of the nature of this material world.

The only evil the Devil offers is the ability to manifest the evil in one’s own heart. A chain that binds one to one’s own manifested desire is created and only oneself can put that chain on. In a similar manner, he does nothing to keep someone in chains yet offers few clues on how to successfully remove the ones that cause suffering. This is his greatest power: To lay down his chains at will. He is only the Prince of Lies when one is lying to oneself. He is more truly the Prince of Illusions, one who can make anything appear with sufficient desire, and one eager to help those desires to be met. The Devil can be a very powerful force in this world for manifesting for the benefit of others if one does not become trapped by selfishly satisfying one’s own desires without knowing how to free oneself. This does not mean that he is not dangerous, however—the greatest awareness and cunning must be present to leave an encounter with the Devil for he would like to see nothing better for you to get exactly what you want and stay there indefinitely. Suffering is likely if one does not take time to consider the consequences of one’s desire and how one can set down one’s desire before being consumed by it.

Astrologically the Devil is associated with Capricorn and the venerable but stern Saturn. He does have a sense of humor, however, and that is one key to overcoming one’s own binding desires: The ability to laugh at oneself and the absurd glory of one’s deepest nature—including desire—can lead to freedom. He appears in many forms in many myths, often both beautiful and terrible. His form as the sexually potent Horned God calls one to the wild, a call to remember one’s powers as creator stemming from one’s desire. As the Great Serpent he both binds one in his coil as he simultaneously defeats himself as the Bringer of Light to dark chaos; he is the Ouroboros that binds to himself and creates infinite possibilities within the boundaries of his world. As the Old One he can be seen as the personification of materialization from the formless, the demiurge.


Tall, dark, and handsome
He invites me in and offers me
food, drink, dreams
All desires are fulfilled if I will
But bind myself with the golden chain
Master of manifestation
And magic of matter
The Horned God is no evil
but will reflect mine in his eyes
The Great Serpent encircles the earth
Driving away the darkness by swallowing its own tail
The light shining within the ring
His power is your power
His heart is your heart
But his gift is one you must take
With great cunning and humor

What are my deepest desires and what are the consequences of manifesting them? What creative urge am I holding back? How have I placed myself in chains by not holding back?