What Does The Devil Card Mean In Tarot?

With origins in Italy dating back to the 1430s, the tarot has evolved into the oracle of choice for many who choose to dabble in the occult. The tarot evolved from its early days as a form of playing cards to the mystical decks now known and loved by people all over the world, following its rise in popularity as a fortune-telling tool in France in the late 1700s, (via Brittanica).

A typical tarot deck is comprised of 78 cards. The cards are divided into two categories, the Major and Minor Arcana, and each carries its own individual meaning. Much like traditional playing cards, the Minor Arcana consists of 56 cards across four suits — wands, cups, pentacles, and swords (via Tarot Card Meanings). Minor Arcana, according to Maisy Bristol of Tarot By Maisy, is said to apply to the more trivial and fleeting aspects of your life at the current moment. Conversely, the Major Arcana cards drawn in a tarot reading reflect more on aspects of your life that have an effect "from birth to death." Given the gravity of each of these cards, some of the Major Arcana cards can induce stress at first glance. One of the Major Arcana cards that may cause initial panic when drawn from a deck is the card known as The Devil. Boasting the half-man-half-goat Baphomet, The Devil can be a bit intimidating. Those that know the tarot well, however, will tell you not to panic if you pull The Devil.

The position of the card matters

When giving a tarot reading, whether it's for yourself or for someone else, you'll want to take into account whether the card was drawn upright or upside down. The position of the card can affect the meaning, as is true in the case of The Devil. In the simplest of terms, an upright Devil card can point to the general themes of the shadow self, attachment, sexuality, addiction, and restriction, according to Biddy Tarot. Pulling The Devil card can symbolize feelings of being held back by the darker parts of the self and giving power to the dependencies and addictions that detract from feelings of happiness and fulfillment.

While this may seem bleak, the appearance of The Devil can act as a sign to let go of the "shadow self" aspects that aren't working with the bigger picture of the life you desire. As the Major Arcana points to things that will affect your life in the long term, it is likely that breaking yourself free from the shadow self will require long-term effort. That effort can only be applied when you achieve a certain level of self-awareness, making The Devil symbolic of putting the quality of your life in your own hands.

On a more positive note, an upright Devil can point to your sexual desires and act as a green light to indulge yourself in your fetishes and desires. If you've been thinking about trying something new in the bedroom, don't be afraid to get a little wild.

The Devil isn't always a bad sign

While some upside down tarot cards can carry a negative connotation with your reading, The Devil in an upside down position yields a more positive reading. An upside down Devil signifies an impending transformation, generally one that involves shedding bad habits and attachments to become a version of yourself more closely aligned with your ideals, according to Biddy Tarot. According to The Tarot Guide, the upside down Devil card can point towards a growing self-awareness in regards to habits and dependencies that must be broken before you level up in your life. This drawing in a tarot reading can also point to a recent situation in which you avoided a negative outcome as well as serve as a warning to not get overconfident in your ability to avoid similar situations in the future.

Overall, The Devil card, upright or upside down, generally relates to some internal turmoil. The outcome of the tarot is subjective, according to Times Of India, so how you choose to react to its appearance is what ultimately affects the outcome of the situation at hand. Tarot can serve as a reflective practice when you're experiencing turmoil, and The Devil card simply exists to show you that bettering your situation in life is always up to you. If you pull The Devil, don't be afraid to do some heavy reflecting.