The World Tarot Card

 

world

A semi-nude woman, who seems almost to be dancing, is in the center of the card.  She holds a wand in each hand and is partially draped with a blue cloth. She is surrounded by an oval laurel wreath bound with red and purple cloth.  In the corners of the card are an angel, an eagle, a bull and a lion, representing Aquarius, Scorpio, Taurus, and Leo, the four fixed signs of the zodiac.

This is a card about balance, completion, honor, and rebirth.  A project is coming to a very satisfactory ending. The questioner has worked hard, overcome many obstacles, and is now being rewarded with great success.

The woman holds a wand in each hand, indicating that she has integrated the feminine and the masculine and is in control of all of the elements in her life.  She is balanced and in harmony. Moreover, she is surrounded by the fixed signs of the zodiac indicating that she is stable and grounded.

The laurel wreath indicates that the questioner will receive honors of some kind for his or her efforts.  Perhaps a promotion or a bonus. Perhaps public recognition.

There is also the element of rebirth.  The laurel wreath is very much in the shape of the birth canal and this indicates that the questioner is emerging into a new world or about to start a new project, strengthened and reinforced by his or her past experiences.

On a mundane level, this may indicate the completion of a successful pregnancy or extended travel.

REVERSED:  The questioner is this close to finishing a project but has run off of the tracks for some reason.  Shows a lack of focus on the final goal and perhaps someone who has lost herself in the minutiae of a project and is not seeing the overall picture.

 

A Little More About The World:

There are people who believe that the Major Arcana of the Tarot contain some sort of a secret doctrine, a hidden path to wisdom that can be discerned by those who have the occult knowledge necessary to understand it.  I see very little evidence for that.

I think of the Tarot as less of a path and more of a mirror.  The Major Arcana show us the large, archetypal forces that are operating in our lives at any given moment.  All of us experience those forces at one time or another. We all feel the child-like joy of The Fool, the sense of mastery and control of The Magician, the luxuriant contentment of The Empress.  We all experience the mourning and loss of Death, the sudden reversals of luck that are signified by The Wheel of Fortune. Certainly since 911 The Tower is seared into our psyches.

These are forces that move through our lives, that shape us, help us to grow and evolve and sometimes defeat us.  To say that there is a path in the cards is somewhat simplistic, I think. Rather, the path is in ourselves, in our own individual dharma, and the events and forces that the cards portray help us to define that path.

I’m in the third act of my life now and so I have the luxury of hindsight.  Not to disparage the Wisdom of Forrest Gump, but life really isn’t like a box of chocolates.  Unless some of the chocolates are laced with arsenic.

Life is a lot more like a mountain river, sometimes wild and out of control and then spreading into a serene meadow before plunging into the next set of rapids.  As we go along we sometimes get dumped into the chilly water and have to fight our way back into the raft. And sometimes we can just sit there and float, enjoying the scenery and grooving on the serenity.

One way or another, though, we are always moving forward, from beginning to end of each incarnation.  And one way or another we learn a lot about how to navigate the river, how to get through the rough waters and how to savor the calm.

The World is the last card in the Tarot deck but it isn’t about the end of the journey.  It’s a pause in the journey, like pulling into a peaceful, quiet cove to rest and assess what we’ve been through.  It’s the full realization of all of the skills that we’ve gained in following our paths and the confidence we can feel in using those skills in the future.  We’ve been through the mill and we’ve come out the other side stronger, wiser, and more capable. We’ve integrated the lessons that The World teaches and they’re a part of us now.  No one can ever take that away.

To quote the Beatles:  “Life goes on within you and without you.”

 

 

 

 

The Judgement Card

 

judgement

An angel blows a horn and people rise joyfully from their coffins which appear to be floating on water.  An icy mountain range is in the background.

This card looks kind of creepy – probably because of the gray people jumping out of their coffins – but it’s not.  This card is about judgements of all kinds but especially about self-judgements.

When Judgement shows up in a reading it indicates that a very significant part of a person’s life is coming to an end.  Moreover, the questioner is in a place where he or she can sit back and examine how they behaved during that phase of their lives and whether or not they are satisfied with what they did.

I’ve seen this card come up frequently with home health care providers, for instance, after the loved one they were caring for had passed over.  They had devoted months or years of their lives to caring for another person and then it was time to reflect on the experience and evaluate what they had done.  You can apply the same thing to any important phase in a person’s life, whether it’s the end of a long career or children who are moving out of the house.The basic questions here are what did it all mean and how did I do?  When the card is upright it indicates that the questioner has done well and feels good about it. And there is also the obvious theme of being reborn in this card. I’ve finished that phase of my life, so what do I do next?

There is also, of course, the more mundane matter of legal judgements.  If you’ve been involved with some sort of a court case you can expect a positive outcome.

REVERSED:  The same scenario as with the upright card but when reversed it implies a negative judgement.  The questioner is feeling far from satisfied with his or her own behavior and wishes that she had done better.  Again, this can be applied to any life event that’s coming to an end, whether a relationship or a job.

Pending legal matters will not go well.

A Few More Thoughts About the Judgement Card:

“You’re judging me!”

“Don’t be so judgemental.”

“That’s a value judgement.”

Not to mention visions of crabby, constipated old men in black robes banging little wooden hammers on their desks.

There’s no question that the word, “judgement,” carries a lot of emotional baggage with it.  It, “feels,” like we’re talking about one person condemning another person, something most of us aren’t totally comfortable with.  Hell, I’ve known Buddhists who refused to serve on juries because they were so adamant about not judging another person’s karma.

As I said in my book, “Just the Tarot,” though, the Judgement card is really more about self-judgement.  It’s about taking a hard, dispassionate look at your life and deciding whether you did good or you fucked up.

And then moving on.

We’ve all known people who were in dysfunctional relationships where one person was doing all of the heavy lifting and the other person was letting him or her do it.  I knew one man who was married to a woman who had been brutally raped when she was younger. About five years into their relationship their sex life pretty much disappeared because she was having flashbacks to the rape.  He was a very sensitive, caring man who was deeply in love with her and so he went along with a sexless relationship until it started to make him crazy. He tried to talk to her about it and got nowhere. He suggested that she see a therapist and she refused.  He suggested that THEY see a therapist and she refused.

He finally ended up seeing a therapist himself and discovered that, sadly, a lot of marriage counseling is actually divorce counseling.  After two years of trying to make things work he filed for divorce and they went their separate ways. He still loved her but he realized he deserved a life partner who could love him back.

I mention that particular instance because it contains all of the elements of the Judgement card.  1 – Being confronted with a large problem in your life. 2 – Working hard to deal with it or solve it.  3 – Seeing very clearly that it involved a phase of your life which, for better or worse, is over and walking away from it.  4 – Making a Judgement about your own behavior and evaluating how you did before you move on to the next phase.

It happens all the time.  Women who live with abusers and try with all of their hearts to believe that the man will somehow change until there’s one too many beatings.  Home health providers who take care of parents with dementia until they’re emotionally and spiritually exhausted and just don’t have anything more to give.  People who endure terrible jobs with terrible bosses for years and finally have enough.

The self judgement is sometimes positive and sometimes negative.  Sometimes we can look at ourselves and say, “Yeah, I did really good and I did everything I could have.”  Sometimes we have to admit that there are things we wish we could have done better or wonder if we should have tried a different approach.  

In either case there is strong self-knowledge that it’s OVER.  That chapter of your life is closed out and you’re moving on to the next chapter, hopefully a wiser and more compassionate human being.

Time to be re-born.

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The Sun Tarot Card

 

Sun

A young, nude child sits astride a pony with flowers and feathers in her hair while a bright, red banner waves in the air.  Behind her a wall is topped with sunflowers and a huge sun shines down upon the scene.

Joy, fun, happiness!  This is a wonderful card and indicates that everything is going just right.  It indicates that warm, comforting sense of existence when you’re going through a period where you’re satisfied and happy.

The child on the pony obviously indicates youth, both in the way the questioner feels right now and in her actual physical environment.  New children or grandchildren may be on the way or perhaps the neighbor’s kids will show up to play. Life is good.

REVERSED:  The weather forecast is for a cloudy day with the possibility of clearing.  Good things may be on the horizon but that’s not assured, yet, and it’s important to keep a positive attitude.

Possibilities of problems with children or pregnancies.  Perhaps the neighbor’s kids show up to play and they’re REALLY annoying.

A Few More Thoughts About The Sun

If you’ve ever done any Inner Child work you’ve got to love The Sun.  It’s all there: the laughing child (riding a pony, no less) in a warm, walled in garden filled with sunflowers waving a banner or flag while the sun shines down.

Let’s focus on the flag for a little bit because it’s the one thing in the composition that just doesn’t belong there.  And things that don’t belong tend to be the most interesting.

We can see first of all that the flag is WAY oversized for the child.  It’s huge and would be appropriate for a large man or woman, not a child.  Secondly it’s red, a color commonly associated with power. So combining those factors we’ve got a very small child controlling a large amount of power, which is a fascinating concept.

To say that our society is anti-child might be an overstatement, but it might not.  Consider these common insults:

Do you have to be so childish?

Why don’t you just grow up?

I guess I’ll be the adult in the room.

Quit being such a brat.

You’re just a cry baby.

And on and on and on.  The word, “puerile,” is from a latin word meaning, “boy.”  Also juvenile, infantile, immature.

Most Inner Child work could more accurately be defined as, “Injured Inner Child work.”  It’s all about working with that ego construct that we form as a child and which tends to be emotionally abused by parents, teachers, preachers and other authoritarians commonly known as grown ups.  It’s about recovering and healing that part of us that was told that he/she was stupid, noisy, pesky, insolent, too big for our britches, and a general pain in the ass. Shut up and sit down or go stand in a corner and think it over until you’re willing to be, “good.”

And, yes, we tend to think of Inner Child as being weak, powerless, delicate, violated.  But if that was all there was to it, what would be the point in trying to recover it or heal it?  After all, it’s just a dumb kid.

The fact is, though, that there is tremendous power that flows out of the Child.   Julia Cameron, author of, “The Artist’s Way,” places creativity squarely in the child ego state, as do many others.  Here’s what Cameron had to say:

“Remember, your artist is a child.  Find and protect that child. Learning to create is like learning to walk.  The artist child must begin by crawling.”

Picasso said, “Every child is an artist.  The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

Amber K, in her wonderful book, “True Magick,” says:

“ . . . the Younger Self is a valuable ally to the conscious mind. . . it is in charge of emotion, memory and sensation . . . it is a powerful generator and channel of psychic energy . . .”

I know a therapist who is fascinated both by deaths and births because, “those are the moments when the veil is thinnest, when a Soul is coming into or passing out of the world.”

If you conceptualize it that way, Child is much closer to the Divine, to Spirit World than Adult.  Each child is a traveler who just stepped off of the Astral Plane and is approaching the Baggage Claim area to pick up it’s new bag of karma.  Each child is still magical.

Until we can talk her out of it.

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The Moon

 

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A bright moon hangs in the center of the sky, it’s unhappy face showing both the full and quarter moons.   Beneath it a dog and a wolf howl at its’ light while a cray fish crawls out of a pond, claws extended. A shining road runs off into the distance between two towers.

This is a card of illusion and self-deception.  Think of seeing the world under the light of the moon rather than the sun.  Shadows and light blend into one another and our eyes and mind see things that aren’t really there.  Or maybe they are.

There is a tendency for the unconscious, unexamined contents of our minds to come forth when The Moon is present.  The craw fish is a primitive, almost prehistoric, creature and it reminds us that our emotions are ultimately based in the very ancient and equally primitive portion of our brains.  That theme is repeated with the presence of both the dog and the wolf. The dog is our modern companion, tamed and loving, but its’ genes and brain rest squarely on it heritage with the wolf.  

The Moon shows that the questioner is involved in a very murky area of his or her life.  There doesn’t seem to be any definite goal or destination right now, just a road running off into the darkness.In terms of a relationship, The Moon shows that the questioner may be involved with someone on a very primitive, unconscious level and that there may be deception on the part of the partner or, more likely, denial on the part of the questioner.  There is a lot of emotion present but it may not be of a healthy, evolved nature.

If finances are involved, The Moon gives a huge warning that things are NOT what they seem to be.  Slow down, delay, wait for better light to illuminate what’s going on.

Another, somewhat vexing, aspect of this is that the Tarot may just be telling you that this really isn’t a good time to do a reading.  Things may be a bit murky and uncertain and it might be better to try again a little later.

REVERSED:  Pretty much the same as the upright card but probably on a slightly less serious level.  Think of one of those irritating periods in your life when your friends are lying to you for no particular reason, nothing is going quite right and you keep losing your car keys, and you’ve got The Moon reversed.

A Few More Thoughts About The Moon:

The designers of the Tarot sort of crammed all of the astronomical cards in at the very end of the deck:  The Star, The Moon, The Sun, The World. Only The Moon had a bad reputation.

The Sun, of course, brings life to our planet.  It gives us warmth and light and makes seeds germinate into plants.  It’s power has been recognized and worshipped in nearly every culture.

The Moon, on the other hand, is a much closer body but it’s magic was poorly understood and frequently frightening to primitive humans.  True, it provided light, but it was a wavering, false light, so unlike The Sun, and provided neither warmth nor comfort. Moreover, it changed mysteriously, appearing as a sliver, growing into a silvery golden ball and then gradually diminishing until it disappeared.  What could be so ephemeral and fleeting as a creature that was born, grew to full life, and died, all in a few weeks?

Even the most primitive peoples, though, recognized its’ powers.  It seemed to pull the waves high out of the oceans and control their movements.  It caused women to bleed from their wombs and men built, “moon houses,” so that women might live apart from other people when they were, “stricken” by the beams of The Moon.

Worse, still, its’ energy seemed to drive some people insane and turned others into werewolves and monsters.  The words, “lunacy,” and, “lunatic,” still live in our language and hearken back to a commonly held belief that the Moon could make some unfortunate people quite mad.

There’s a certain amount of truth in the old tales.  Cops, firefighters, and emergency department nurses will all tell you that things get worse when there’s a full moon.  Many farmers still plant their crops according to the cycles of the moon. If you’re a psychically sensitive person you probably know what it’s like to be knocked ass over tea kettle by The Moon.

There is something about its’ power that calls to the most primitive part of our brains and souls.  The Moon card shows a cray fish – a VERY primitive organism – rising from the depths of a pool of water to contemplate a full moon, a perfect metaphor for the way that it affects and transforms us.

Fairly modern Tarot decks like the Waite deck usually depict both a wolf and a dog baying at The Moon to emphasize that its’ power still holds sway over us, no matter how much we may have evolved.    And, as in the Temperance card, a long road stretches off into the distance, as if showing the way out of the Land of Lunacy.

The older decks didn’t bother with the wolf/dog metaphor and there was no road leading to salvation.  There were just two howling beasts and a folk art moon with a fancy collar flinging out psychedelic moon beams.

marmoon

And perhaps that’s more fitting.  Madness is a part of the human psyche and – in measured doses – is just as important to our existence as sanity.  Madness makes us question reality in the same way that The Moons’ light makes us question what we see. Is it a rope lying there in the darkness or is it a snake?  Is it a bush or is it a bear?

When Magellan said that the world was round and not flat people told him he was mad.  Quite, quite mad, darling.

Time travel back to the early 1950s and tell someone that one day we’ll have computers that fit in the palms of our hands and we’ll be able to talk to anyone anywhere on the globe if they have one too.

What are you nuts?

It’s never comfortable having The Moon in your reading.  It feels like things are confused and muddled and don’t make any sense.  Still, sometimes we need that. If we didn’t have those periods of mild insanity we might never change, might never fall in love.

There’s a great line at the end of, “Zorba the Greek.”  Zorbas’ boss is a very proper Englishman who would never, ever do anything out of the ordinary.  Zorba looks at him and says, “I like you too much not to tell you, boss. You have everything a man needs except one thing.  Madness. A man needs a little madness or else he’ll never dare to cut the rope and be free.”

 

The Star Tarot Card

 

the star

A nude woman kneels beside a placid body of water.  She holds pitchers in both hands and is pouring water out onto the ground and into the body of water.  The sky above her is spangled with stars and a bird sings in a tree.

This is one of the loveliest cards you can get in a reading and indicates hope and good things to come.  

Her nudity indicates both an innocence and a freshness, a starting over without the trappings of a former life that may have weighed her down.  Her foot in the water indicates that she is fully in touch with her emotions while the other foots placement indicates that she is well grounded.  The singing bird denotes happiness and the fact that she is freely pouring out the contents of the pitchers indicates abundance.

Basically, this card means blessings and sweet times ahead.  If life has been hard for the questioner or he or she has experienced poor health they can expect wonderful improvements in the very near future.

REVERSED:  The questioner is letting self doubts and pessimism seep into his or her spirituality.  There has perhaps been a new and wonderful start but doubts are beginning to spring up.

A Few Extra Thoughts About The Star:

I’ve been collecting books about the Tarot for decades.  One which has gone out of print described The Star as, “The Star of Hope.”  I have to say that from my experience that’s exactly right.

Sooner or later we all go through one of those awful periods that are marked with the appearance of cards like Death and The Tower.  Sometimes we feel totally demoralized and defeated. Sometimes we feel like we’ve been beaten right down to our knees, bowed and bloodied, and unable to get back onto our feet and move forward.

But it’s the nature of life that if we hang on long enough, if we don’t give up and become cynical and jaded, a glimmer of hope will enter our lives and we begin to see the possibility of being happy again.

One might just say, “Well, hope springs eternal in the human breast,” and leave it at that.  We are, after all, a pretty hopeful species. We do tend to rebuild and regenerate after disasters and catastrophes.

I think, though, that there’s something a little more to it, at least as far as The Star is concerned.  I think that there are times in our lives when we get periods of grace, periods of blessings, when we’re protected and helped by higher powers or higher realms.  When we have peace and contentment, many times after our hardest struggles.

The Tibetan Buddhists have a wonderful way of looking at karma.  If you’ve led a really, really good life (or many of them) and you’ve helped a lot of other Souls then you’re likely to reincarnate in really, really good circumstances in your next life.

BUT – they warn – even a large accumulation of good karma can be used up so it’s important to keep living a good life and to keep helping other Souls.  It’s sort of like a karmic piggy bank: you have to keep putting some more good karma back into it or sooner or later you’ll run out.

It’s likely that something similar happens when we go through really bad times.  When life absolutely beats the shit out of us and we endure the pain and suffering – AND WE CONTINUE TO HOLD LOVE IN OUR HEARTS! – then we earn that period of grace and blessings.  We earn that Star of Hope that surrounds us with its’ light and protection.

The Tower

 

Tower

A crowned tower atop a peak has been struck by lightning.  The crown on the tower has been knocked off and flames sprout from the windows.  Two people have been knocked out of the tower and are falling toward the ground.

This isn’t necessarily a horrible card to get in a reading but it can be.  If it’s effects are softened by other cards in the reading it may just show a sudden reversal of luck or the destruction of a belief system.

At its’ worst it can indicate a real calamity.  It can show a huge financial loss, for instance, or a home being lost or destroyed.  On the level of relationships it can show a complete loss of faith in the relationship or the person the questioner is involved with.  Imagine coming home and finding your husband in bed with the baby sitter. THAT kind of loss of faith.

One of the aspects here is that the loss tends to be sudden and totally unexpected.  It’s not something you can plan for, it just happens with no warning. That’s a major part of the feeling of devastation.  Like the lightning bolt it’s literally shocking.

Another aspect is that it tends to shake you to the core.  You question your beliefs, your faith, all of the things that you took for granted in what is now your former life.

Did I mention this is a bad card?

REVERSED:  The calamity has happened and the questioner is now in the recovery phase.  The question is whether he or she will find the inner strength and spiritual resources to deal with the loss and rebuild their life.

Some More Thoughts About the Tower:

Shit happens.

And that’s one of those terrible truths that can be so difficult to accept.  You can be walking merrily down lifes’ path, whistling a happy tune and admiring the sunshine when you get run over by an out of control ice cream truck.

Shit happens.  When it happens to someone we don’t like or someone who is a blatant bastard we tend to say, “Ah, HA!  He certainly got what he had coming!”

When it happens to someone who is a really good person – or even worse, to us – it tends to be more of a head scratcher.  We tend to revert back to that child-like state and ask, “Why did this happen to me? I’ve been good.”

And we do buy into that equation that the quality of your life is equal to the quality of your actions.  If you’re a good person, then good things will happen to you. If you’re a bad person then bad things will happen to you.

We buy into that despite a lot of proof to the contrary.  There are some very wealthy people who have screwed over everyone they’ve ever met.   There are many loving, kind people living in abject poverty and hunger. Philosophers and religious leaders have been trying to explain that for as long as humans have existed.

The fact is that we don’t really know why catastrophe strikes one person and not another.  We just know that it does. The only thing we know for certain is that personal disaster either builds character of it destroys it.  When your entire world has just gone up in smoke, when you’ve lost everything that you held dear, then all that’s left is what you’ve got in your own heart.  You either use the strength you’ve got inside of you or you develop inner strength in the process of recovery.

Alternatively, you can just give up.  Or become a cynic who despises life. Or cry out that there’s no justice and life isn’t fair.

Because . . . you know . . . shit happens.

 

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The Devil Tarot Card

 

devil (1)

The Baphomet devil, horned and with huge bat wings, perches on a black cube.  His legs are those of a goat and his feet are talons. He holds his right hand aloft and the palm of it seems to be incised with obscure symbols.  In his left hand he holds a flaming torch. A nude female and male stand before him with their backs turned to him. They have horns and chains, which bind them to the cube, are draped loosely around their necks.  They also have tails and the devil seems to have lit the man’s tail on fire.

There are a lot of symbolic elements in this card, so let’s take them one at a time and work through them.  The man and the woman hearken back to the nude couple in The Lovers card, but there is nothing sacred or blessed about their relationship  They are chained, enslaved, and reduced to their lowest levels of feeling and being.

The enslavement may be on the obvious level of some sort of twisted sexuality.  Perhaps there is some level of bondage and domination going on in their sex lives that has gone way too far.

The enslavement may be on the physical level itself.  A love of materialism, money, a constant need for new and expensive toys.

It may fall in the area of addictions to substances that destroy the spirit and soul, such as meth, heroin, and excessive amounts of alcohol.  There’s a saying in Alcoholics Anonymous: “Booze gave me wings and then took away the sky.”

Whatever the form of bondage, it is to some extent self-imposed.  Note how loosely the chains hang around their necks. They could easily slip them over their heads and walk from their slavery, yet they don’t.  By not fighting for their freedom they are cooperating with their slavery.

There’s another element here that many of the New Age tarot books tend to ignore or gloss over and that’s Black Magic.  When The Devil shows up in a reading it’s possible that someone is directing malevolent magic against the questioner or that he or she is engaging in it.

If this card shows up in a reading about employment it’s possible that the questioner is chained to a job that he hates but can’t leave because of financial obligations.  If it shows up in a reading about relationships it’s possible that there’s going to be a lot of sex in the questioners future. A lot. Hot. Steamy. Sex.

REVERSED:  This shows that liberation may be at hand in the immediate future.  The questioner will do something to escape the spiritual and/or physical enslavement that she is currently involved in.  May show the end of a really bad relationship.

A Few Additional Thoughts About the Devil and . . . ahem . . .S – E – X.

It’s interesting to note that Eliphas Levi, the occultist who first sketched the goat of Baphomet that appears on the devil card, didn’t consider the devil to be such a bad dude at all.  In fact, he wrote:

“The flame of intelligence shining between his horns is the magic light of the universal balance, the image of the soul elevated above matter, as the flame, whilst being tied to matter, shines above it. “

He actually considered the devil to be a symbol of balance and integration of polar opposites.  And there are those elements in the depictions of the devil in the earlier versions of the Tarot.

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We see here that the devil is very much hermaphroditic having both breasts and a penis.  (As a folk artist I REALLY like the little face on his belly.) We can also see that this devil  is much more along the lines of the christian perception of the devil and the two people in the card look much less like humans and much more like imps.  Or flying monkeys, maybe.

So what prompted Waite to switch to the Levi version of the devil?  Well, you’d probably have to say sex. Or sex, sex, and more sex.

Waite described the humans on the card as being Adam and Eve after they’d been driven out of the garden of eden.  “The figures are tailed to signify the animal nature but there is human intelligence in their features . . .”

Their ANIMAL nature!  Whoa . . .

We have to keep in mind that Waite was very much a creature of the late Victorian era.  Women, for the most part, were still held up as being naturally, “pure,” and sex – if it was discussed at all – was left to the medical books and gentlemens’ clubs.  One physician noted that,

“the majority of women (happily for them) are not very much troubled by sexual feeling of any kind. What men are habitually, women are only exceptionally.’

Troubled by sexual feelings . . . how terrible for the men.

And they were TRULY troubled by their sexual feelings.  One commonly held belief was that excessive masturbation would inevitably drive you insane.  Fortunately, the Victorians were able to respond to this threat rationally and so they manufactured a safe and effective anti-masturbation device for men:

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No, I’m not kidding.  That’s actually on display at the Science Museum in London and models of it were being sold as late as the 1920s.

So given that background you can understand some of the changes that Waite made to the devil card.  Despite his spiffy bat wings the devil is quite obviously a goat, an animal famous for its’ prodigious sexual appetites.  The woman in the card is actually standing quite primly, except for being totally naked, and has her little hands pointed outwards in the same pose favored by today’s beauty pageant contestants.

The man, on the other hand, has one hand extended toward the woman and the devil is lighting his tail on FIRE!!!  No doubt IN – flaming his base, animalistic, sexual drive. If only the poor guy had an anti-masturbation protector to keep that critter between his legs under control.

Alas, he doesn’t have one and so both he and the poor, normally totally pure woman with a pomegranate tail are CHAINED to the altar of the devil, slaves of their genitals!  Well . . . his genitals. The woman has genitals but she doesn’t feel them. Everyone knows that.

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