The Devil Tarot Card Meaning - Upright, Reversed & More

The Devil upright

The Devil At A Glance

Keywords: Overcoming addiction, feeling trapped, playful, think out of the box, self-control, self-esteem, confidence
Seasons: Spring

The Devil Tarot Card Description

The Devil is the sixteenth card within the major arcana and is usually numbered as 15. In the RWS (Rider Waite Smith) system of tarot The Devil card’s art depicts a scene quite similar in composition to both The Lovers card and The Hierophant card. This is not by accident. All three cards depict a powerful entity or authority having dominion over people: Wisdom from the Hierophant, Love in The Lovers and Addiction in the Devil card.

In this card we see an angel (the Devil was once an angel) standing above a man and a woman who are under his rule. The man and woman are in the same position as they are in The Lovers card but in this card they are clearly not happy. In chains and surrounded by dark colors and fire it symbolizes that they are slaves to their vices and suffering for it.

The Devil card within tarot does not directly mean the literal Christian devil but rather it has become shorthand within tarot’s language to show the personification of our bad habits if they are left unchecked. The Devil’s message is clear: if we do not control our addictions they will control us.

The Devil Upright Meaning

When The Devil card is turned over in a reading it often symbolizes the need to break free of addictions or actions that control us. The reader desperately needs to look within and assess the actions and habits they have. If these are found to be harmful to anyone, including the reader themselves they must use their willpower to break free of these addictions.

The colors and symbols chosen for this card are very serious because it shows the damage that seemingly small actions can have if they are not done with positive intention and mindfulness.

“At first, addiction is maintained by pleasure, but the intensity of the pleasure gradually diminishes and addiction is then maintained by the avoidance of pain.” - Frank Tallis

The Devil Reversed Meaning

The Devil reversed

When reversed The Devil card is still about self-control but unfortunately it’s opposite side: self-sabotage.

Often we can feel when what we are doing is not good for ourselves. Reversed this card says that we are sabotaging our own efforts. Sometimes this is because subconsciously we feel like we don’t deserve what we are working for. So we continue to work for it but then push it away once we are about to attain it.

We can do this with anything in our life like our goals but most commonly we do this with love. We may crave it and do anything for it but then refuse to accept it when it is shown to us because we haven't taken the time to address this behavior on a conscious level.

The very nature of bringing this to light can be helpful for us. Once we notice this behavior we can change the mind frame behind it. We can work on our self-esteem so that we feel more deserving of it. This card reversed says we are worth all the things we want and need in our lives. We must love ourselves enough to seek and accept love when it is offered to us.

“Addiction is the only prison where the locks are on the inside.” - Unknown

The Devil: Yes or No

The Devil card as an answer to a simple yes or no question is a surprisingly fun and playful yes. It has the energy of “sure why not. What could go wrong?” It says we shouldn’t get overly caught up with right and wrong and moral quandaries but instead we should think if it harms no one (including ourselves) and it feels good then we actually should indulge every now and then.

If reversed it is a no. It says we have other things to focus on right now and that to say yes is to give in to a temptation that is not for our betterment. We must have the strength to say no even if we feel like we are missing out, we must remember we have better things on the way to us.

Let’s Break Down The Devil In Our Lives

The Devil card relating to individual areas of our lives in much more detail.

The Devil In Love

If the reader has asked a question about love either romantic or platonic and The Devil card appears then it can suggest the need to break down or reevaluate the labels or responsibilities we share within a relationship. Who does what chores and when must evolve as the relationship does.

Reversed The Devil in love can mean feeling addicted to a person or addicted to the attention we receive at the beginning of the relationship. As the honeymoon phase ebbs and the novelty wears off we may feel like the spark is gone. This was the intense beginning of lust, but the love is still growing, we just need to give it time to bloom.

The Devil With Money

If The Devil card appears when a question about money has been asked it is suggesting there is debt or gambling or we are in some other way a slave to money or the acquisition of it. We must analyze this and take control over it.

Reversed The Devil with money means we are learning a lesson about money, perhaps a past mistake still sits with us, reminding us to think through our decisions more carefully. We survived financially and now we can rebuild because we learned a new way to operate.

The Devil At Work

When asking a question about a situation at work or about our careers The Devil card can mean we might need to ditch labels at work, job roles and other concepts which keep our minds compartmentalized. We are being asked to merge areas and experiment in ways we never would have thought of before. The solution is in the mixing and discovery of new techniques we use at work.

Reversed The Devil at work suggests the need for guidance and advice from an expert. Perhaps we need to take this situation higher up to an authority figure because alone we can’t solve this. Though we don’t like to admit it, the control needs to be taken away because it is hindering our work.

The Devil With Others

If we are asking about our external world, either our immediate world of people we know or the world at large and we get The Devil card as an answer it means we are misunderstood. Either generally or regarding a specific person, they do not see what we do and we must allow them to have their opinion without feeling the need to correct them. As long as we understand that our motives and intentions are good then we must let our actions speak for us and not be tempted to try and make our case.

Reversed The Devil with others can signify the way the world sees us and the way we see ourselves do not align. Maybe we have outgrown parts of our lives or perhaps we are having a spiritual awakening and making changes in our lives. The Devil reversed asks us how can we present our true selves more openly.

The Devil With Self

The Devil card relates to our internal world asking us to assess our addictions and bad habits and then find creative out of the box solutions to correct them. We can use our own personal strengths to make a customized plan.

Reversed The Devil card with self can symbolize that we have been trying to control our lives down to every second. We are stressed trying to control everything and all to no avail because control itself is an illusion. We can’t control life so we must stop trying to exert our will so heavily because we only close off opportunities for joy and happiness when we do this.

The Devil As Feelings

The Devil card feels fun, seductive and playful. It feels like being free of our anxieties, addictions and other negative thoughts that usually weigh us down. It can feel like an afternoon spent indulging with a cocktail or 3 in the sun.

Of course this action would become quite bad for our health if we did this every day so it can also feel like lethargy, entitlement and laziness if our indulgent actions are performed too liberally and too often. The key is to find moderation so we get the best of both worlds.