The Devil card symbolises bondage, dangerous friendships, the thrall of base desires, lust, addiction, and lastly, the occult.
When this card appears in a reading it can be almost guaranteed that less than healthy behaviours will be evidenced and an individual may have less than pure motives for pursuing a friendship with you: emotional and mental abuse, sinister hidden agendas, manipulation, unbridled lust, sexual perversions, substance abuse, crippling mental afflictions, a tyrannical manager, and the presence of dark magic are all possibilities with this card.
The astrological correspondences for this card are Capricorn and Saturn. Capricorn rules ambition, power, and greed and Saturn represents restrictions, control, and submission to authority. In the Rider Waite deck a horned couple are depicted, chained to one another by their necks and presided over by a demonic entity. The entire imagery of this card is an inversion of The Lovers card which portrays Adam and Eve in a state of innocence and guided by the forces of heaven. The chains around the couple's necks represent bondage and subservience to their base carnal desires, as well as to one another. Their tails suggest submission to purely animalistic instincts, and their horns reveal that they have allowed their rebellious shadow sides to take the reins.
What may have once begun as a thrilling flirtation with the unknown has descended into vice, enslavement, and moral degradation. What is more concerning is that the two characters seem unwilling or able to extricate themselves from their misfortune and have fully abdicated any sense of free will or personal responsibility. The demonic entity which overlooks the hapless pair wears an unemotive expression, seemingly indifferent to their predicament. This suggests a sense that they are receiving their just deserts for their foolishness and are victims by their own hand.
The inverted pentagram atop the head of the demonic entity represents a corruption of what is natural and wholesome. The pentagram, when upright, is said to represent all five elements of reality: the earth, air, water, fire and ether qualities. The inversion of this symbol indicates that the scene we behold is fraught with sin, a perversion of morality and the destruction of all that is noble. It is interesting to note that neither one of the chained couple may be more culpable than the other. This can be intuited by the fact that the demonic entity's torch seemingly stokes the fire which has set the tail of the man ablaze. The woman, on the other hand, tentatively reaches for the bunch of grapes, representing hedonism, at the end of her tail. This imagery indicates that one individual is merely a catalyst for a fantasy which the other has suppressed for some time, but is being enticed to explore. Moreover it reveals that the fallen pair are at the mercy of external dark spiritual energies which have taken advantage of their weaknesses, as the flame is stoked by a third party.
The colours on the card are the antithesis of those shown in The Lovers card; the black and red in The Devil card indicate destruction and passion in equal measure. The Devil card's number is 15 and this represents a struggle since the number 1 symbolises self-actualisation and individuation, and the number 5 is symbolic of struggles and tensions which are difficult to overcome. From this we can deduce that the querent is in a fight for self-mastery over their lower inclinations. The sum total of the number 15 is 6 which is the number of The Lovers card, further cementing the connection between these two cards and indicating that The Devil is a corrupted depiction of a sacred union.
In a love reading The Devil card is a most foreboding omen. It signifies control and abuse and forewarns that your person of interest does not have your best interests at heart. They may subject you to mental, emotional, or financial abuse and you are being warned that you ought to make hasty your departure. It can also represent issues of co-dependency and this is most often seen when one partner has an emotional or substance abuse problem and the other partner enables their behaviour. In terms of feelings this card indicates that your person of interest may have a purely physical attraction to you and that is the full extent of their interest, a committed relationship not being on their mind. It can also reveal that they have set their cap at "winning" you like a prize, have intentions to treat you as a possession, and may resort to manipulative tactics to keep you. The Devil card can be positive however; it can signify deep, burning, all-consuming passion between two people and an inescapable attraction. However the caveat is that too much of a good thing is possible and it would be wise to temper your impulses.
In a work or career reading The Devil card has mixed meanings. On the one hand it can reveal that you are willing and capable to do whatever it takes to reach the top, even if this is by unscrupulous means. Or it can signify that you are constrained by your superiors who are overly controlling and will not allow you to flourish. Another possibility is workplace bullying. The Devil also suggests that you have a commanding and magnetic presence and can draw people to you with your innate sense of superiority.
Timing: Timing is dependent on card placement within a spread but since The Devil is allied with Capricorn, timing can be designated to Capricorn season.
Major Arcana: Card 15
Astrological Correspondence: Saturn, Capricorn, 10th house of the astrological wheel
Positive Aspects: magnetic personality, drive and ambition to make things happen, all consuming passion between two people, deep fascination
Negative Aspects: all types of abuse, domination, drug abuse, domestic violence, lies, sadism, unscrupulous tactics, nefarious intentions, occult rituals. co-dependency, OCD behaviour, manipulation, sinister hidden agenda