The Lovers and The Devil – That Old Black Magic Called Love


Falling in love always seems like a magical experience.

You see someone across the room at a party and suddenly a giant, sizzling fireball shoots directly from your second chakra into theirs, or vice verse, and you involuntarily shout, “Zounds!”

Well, you’d shout, “zounds,” if you were at a party in the Middle Ages.  Today it would more probably be, “holy shit!” or, “wow!” or, “OMG . . . WTF?”

The point is that it’s often sudden, totally unexpected, and irresistable.  It’s like an outside force has taken over your conscious brain and turned you into a stuttering, romantic, totally bedazzled, HAPPY fool.

The scholars tell us that the notion of romantic love first appeared in the Middle Ages (zounds!).  Presumably before that, “Romeo, wherefore art thou?” was more a matter of, “Me, Tarzan, you Jane, let’s . . . ahem . . . reproduce.”

That doesn’t seem likely, though.  Solomon had some pretty steamy stuff going on 900 years before Jesus appeared and even talked about how much he enjoyed, “eating my honeycomb,” on his wedding night.  Must have been a very sweet woman.

Despite it being a wonderful, magical experience, there have always been a certain number of men who find it problematic.  One assumes they feel it’s not manly to be turned into a gibbering idiot by another person and that someone must have put a damned spell on them to make them feel all gooey inside.  The word, “glamour,” is directly descended from the word, “glimmer,” which means to cast a spell on someone. We speak of beautiful women as being, “enchanting,” and an enchantment is, of course, a spell.  And look at this version of The Lovers from an old Swiss Tarot deck:


Yep, that’s still Cupid shooting his arrow but there’s also a nasty old hag of a witch cackling away on the side.  She obviously just slipped him some Love Potion #9 and he doesn’t know if it’s day or night.

So we’ve pretty much got the picture on falling in love.  It’s overpowering. It’s magical. It seems to be beyond our rational control.  The Waite Tarot takes that a step further and shows it as a holy, sacred experience, guarded by an angel.  An experience as innocent and fresh as the Garden of Eden.

But wait. ( Or maybe I should say, “But Waite.” ) What’s that snake doing in that apple tree on the left hand side of the card?  Who invited him to the party?

Which brings us to The Devil card.


It’s the same naked couple but they’ve got an entirely different angel hovering over them.  And they’ve sprouted horns and tails and the guy’s tail is on fire. Typical male – only thinking of one thing, right?

Now, The Devil card can have a lot of meanings.  Materialism with NO spirituality. Violent sex. Black magic.  Just plain evil. But in this context, let’s look at it as the opposite of romantic love.

Say it’s fifteen years after the couple fell in love.  They’ve got three kids and a mortgage they can’t afford.  The wife just caught the husband playing hide-the-sausage with the baby sitter but doesn’t feel like she can leave him because of the kids.  And she is SO not interested in going to bed with him again. Ever.

They’re still the same couple and they’re still together, but their love has been transformed into a chain that binds them together in emotional slavery.

If you’ve ever been in a loveless marriage, or even knew someone who was, then you know that it shares some of the characteristics of romantic love.  It’s overpowering. It seems to come out of nowhere. It turns normally rational people into gibbering fools. But eventually, it makes you dead inside.

And I would guess that there is a further message in this couple appearing in The Devil card.  Living in a loveless union with another human being isn’t just wrong, it’s evil. It robs both of the partners of the love that they deserve, the love that makes us grow and blossom into full human beings.  It defeats the purpose of our being here on the earth plane, which is surely to learn love and compassion.

Here’s to love!

The Angels of the Tarot

 

There are ALOT of angels flying around in the Major Arcana of the Tarot.

the-lovers

The first one to appear is in The Lovers, hovering over Adam and Eve, arms outstretched, while the crafty snake twines around an apple tree.  One assumes that this snapshot was taken BEFORE Uppity Eve decided that she just had to have a goddamned apple for breakfast, because the angel seems to be protecting or blessing them as they stand there.  After her snack, of course, god went into a major psychotic rage and the angel drove them out of the garden with a flaming sword. (“She ate AN APPLE! That bitch ate one of my apples! How dare she? They’re MY apples. I’ll show her!  I’ll throw her skinny ass right OUT of Paradise. I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too!”)

Jewish tradition holds that the angel who tossed them out was Jophiel, which is odd because she seems like a pretty nice angel.  She’s known as, “the angel of beauty,” and she’s shines beautiful thoughts into people’s hearts and helps addicts and artists.

wheel

The next angels to appear are the Cherubim and we see them in both The Wheel of Fortune and The World.  Cherubim have four faces, one of an ox, a man, and eagle, and a lion. The human face fits on the front and the lion face goes on the right and ox goes on the left and the eagle face goes . . . somewhere else.  Must be on the top or the back, right?

What else?  They have two sets of wings that join together.  The top set is to fly around with and the bottom set they use to cover themselves up.  For why, I don’t know. (Ezekial 1:6)

So, as near as I can tell, they look sort of like giant dragonflies only they have four faces which are placed right, left, middle, and somewhere else.  And to think they didn’t even have LSD when they wrote this . . .

We should note that cherubim are NOT cherubs as we know them on Valentines Day cards.  The cute, cuddly little guys who shoot arrows into your heart are actually putti.  That’s right, they’re putti.  Cutey puttis. Look it up.

Also, apparently the Cherubim guard the gates of the Garden of Paradise so Uppity Eve can’t sneak back in for another apple, though it’s not clear if Jophiel (remember Jophiel?  Nice angel? About 5 foot 4, blonde hair?) is a Cherub.

Also, Satan was a Cherub.  Who knew, right?

temperance

The next angel, who is pictured in the Temperance card, is . . . well . . . the Temperance angel.  I’ve done a lot of research on him/her and no one seems to know who she/he is, although they all agree that he/she is either of both sexes or no sex, which would make he/she an it, rather than she/he. We know that Temperance is one of the christian cardinal virtues so perhaps the angel is merely supposed to be an allegorical reference to our better self.

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The next to the last angel is The Devil.  And perhaps I’m taking a leap here that isn’t justified.  There are so many christian symbols in the Tarot that it seems logical that if they’re referring to The Devil they probably mean Satan who, as noted above, is a Cherub and NOT a putti.  NOT A PUTTI!

On the other hand, he could be Beelza Bubba, or whole bunch of other fallen angels.  Or the idea of evil itself. Still, it seemed better to err on the side of caution and include him.

judgement

And the last angel is the angel blowing the horn on the Judgement card to summon the dead out of their graves.  We can probably go out on a limb and say that this is Gabriel the Archangel. Anal retentive biblical scholars will point out to you that the bible doesn’t say it was Gabriel and, in fact, the bible doesn’t even mention Gabriel and in fact the only archangel that the bible even mentions is Michael.

But we all know it’s Gabriel.  Gabriel’s the one with the horn.  Everyone knows that.

Angels.  What a trip!  If you want to take a deep dive into angelology (yes, there IS such a word) Wikipedia has an extremely detailed article here.

If you’re interested in exploring your personal relationship with angels and spirit guides  DailyOm has several good courses with guided visualizations here.

AND . . . you can buy my ebook, “Just the Tarot,”  here.

The Devil Tarot Card

 

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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:

masturbation-device_290x290 (1)

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.

just

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The Major Arcana of the Tarot

 

The Major Arcana are composed of 22 cards and are the original heart of the Tarot deck.  They can be dated back to the 15th century where they emerged in Europe as the basis for card games.  The symbolism of the cards is so complex that it’s difficult to believe that they were conceived merely as a game but any further clues as to their origin have been lost in time.

Theories about the Major Arcana abound and the occultists of the late Victorian era, such as A.E. Waite and Aleister Crowley, spun some whoppers.  Based upon who you listen to the cards may have originated in ancient Egypt or perhaps Atlantis and Plato himself may or may not have been familiar with them.  

There are also those who claim that the Major Arcana conceal a secret doctrine, a path to higher realms and knowledge that only a few can decipher.  My personal experience with the cards is that those claims are nonsense. If there’s a path hidden in the Major Arcana it’s so overgrown that it would take a bulldozer to find it.  Emphasis on the, “bull.”

So what are the cards of the Major Arcana?  Modern psychologists, particularly Jungians, like to compare them to archetypal images, primordial representations buried in the unconscious of all humans.  And they may be right but that leaves unanswered the questions of who composed them and for what purpose.

There are a few things about them that we can say with certainty.  The Major Arcana represent . . . well, MAJOR forces in our lives. When we encounter the Major Arcana in a reading we know that some significant, life changing events are happening to the questioner.  We’re talking about births, deaths, disasters, major karma coming home to roost, and profound spiritual renewal.

In some cases the questioner herself may be causing the appearance of the major force.  In the card The Devil, for instance, we have a willful embrace of ignorance, cruelty, and mindless sexuality.  The Hanged Man may show up when we choose to take a break from life and reassess our spirituality.

In other cases, the cards may appear because of events which are external to the questioner and over which he has no control.  The Death card may appear frequently after the loss of a loved one. The Tower may pop up after a natural disaster such as an earthquake or a flood.

The best way that I can conceptualize the presence of a card from the Major Arcana in a reading is as a  powerful wind blowing through your life. You can’t stop the wind. You can fight against it, you can give into it and let it blow you where it will, or you can hunker down and wait for it to pass.  The one thing you can’t do is ignore it.  When you see a card from the Major Arcana PAY ATTENTION!