Sunday, February 24, 2013

Today's Tarot: the Devil (greed, imprisonment, self-deception)

I find this card a hard one to write about. There are so many connotations that people find it hard to objective about this card. We tend to ascribe so many meanings, facets, and patinas to it that we never get to bottom of things.

In my opinion, it is easy to put all the negative qualities we might feel internally onto a mythical figure, call him/it the ultimate in evil and be done with it. In some ways, that lets us off the hook. Here's the thing, though. It doesn't. That ol' chestnut, "the Devil made me do it," is the worst kind of cop out. Instead of standing up and saying, "yes, I have less than stellar moments. Yes, I've done things I'm not proud of but I am trying to make amends, trying to improve," we say, it's the fault of the Devil, with a big capital D. In the end, though, it isn't true, is it? In the end, we are responsible for what we do. We must take our less than stellar moments, accept that we were capable of them, and then do better.

So, yes, this card does mean greed. It means every single petty and not-so-petty time we have been greedy, small-minded, closed-minded, or mean. It's the ugly underbelly of our own highest thoughts and best attempts.

It also means imprisonment. As long as we don't accept our own faults and flaws, as long as we try to palm our negative qualities on some mythical man/beast/fallen angel, we stay imprisoned in our fear of being caught, in our terror of being found out to be less than perfect. In effect, we are sometimes terrified of being found out to be human. Humans run the gamut of actions and emotions. We can exhibit the kindness of the angels, or the malice of the devils. And we need to accept that both reside inside us. The ones we show to the world are entirely up to us. And, every single instant of every single day brings us to the fork in the road about what we will show to the world and what we will exhibit. Will it be kindness or malice? Will it be generosity or greed?

The key here is to remove the veils from our own eyes and see ourselves clearly. If we do that, then we arrive at that place of balance where neither devils nor angels hold sway. The old image of a person trying to make a decision with an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other comes to mind here. They are trying to talk the person into either doing the right or wrong thing, make the right or wrong choice. If the person accepts that the responsibility is ultimate his/hers, then the devil and angel no longer have a voice. Then, that voice is entirely internal and either the credit or the blame becomes internal as well.

So, today, when you are trying to reach decisions, trying to decide how to move forward, act in the moment, or say or do anything, remember the Devil is internal and he/she/it will always pull you toward greed at the expense of others and the kind of selfishness that is ultimately just a little malicious. Taking care of ourselves and being selfish in our self care is one thing. But doing so with complete disregard for others is another thing entirely.

I am reminded of the quote. “You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.”—Malcolm S. Forbes.

If the Devil is about greed, then this previous quote is its Achilles Heel.

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