The Devil from Tarot of the Boroughs

The Devil card from Tarot of the Boroughs

I was stumped on something to write about and when I’m stumped, I write about Tarot. Of course, I pulled The Devil because it’s only the most complicated to describe. Maybe it does need more than one blog post.

I first wrote about it awhile ago. Then, I found a draft of a blog post I wrote several months ago but never published. Let’s see if it’s still even relevant to anything: 

simpsons devilNot long before I wrote this, I pulled the Devil as my card of the day. I wasn’t thrilled. The day I pulled it, I was working an important fundraiser for a Coalition—a group I helped found and nurture. Did the Devil mean we would attract detractors? I hoped the Devil symbolized the fossil fuel infrastructure we were trying to fight. As it turned out, the Devil was not an ominous sign for our group that day, but a symbolic one for me, personally.

That day, a young man attended the event whom I’d not seen in years. He had been part of my Witchcraft community for a time and was lonely and seemed to need support. I spent a lot of time talking and listening to him, and trying to be a friend and guiding light. But my “helping” wasn’t “help enough” and when we last spoke, I unintentionally angered him and although we tried to talk it through, he wrote a long, harsh email to me, cutting off contact. Suddenly, there he was at the event. I worked the door and greeted him intentionally with warmth.

devil tarot

The very next day, I ran into an ex-lover at the grocery store—one whose break-up had been very dramatic and painful. Although we hadn’t spoken more than a “hello!” to one another in several years, a few months prior to had also written me an unprovoked, nasty-ass email in which he blamed me for much of the suffering he was then going through, although we’d not been in open communication for years.

I had run into two different people from my past within two days—both of whom had, out of the blue, had deliberately and without provocation, severed their connections with me in harsh and hurtful ways. I might have associated as “The Devil” in different chapters of my own Fool’s Journey. What was the message?

devil-smallI sat with the Devil and meditated on it. Devils don’t merely come out of nowhere. We assign our Devils. If the Devil is a character in religious mythology assigned responsibility for the pain and suffering of humanity, we may also be assigning responsibility to Devils in our own mythologies. In my meditation, I saw how those two people had made me responsible for their suffering. While no one exits any conflict or breakup without at least some responsibility for another’s pain, I did know I was not the sole source of all that was wrong in their lives (even if their emails suggested otherwise). I was the Devil to each of them.

If that was the case, who were my Devils? What could the Devil card reveal?

After meditating on the Devil, I asked the Spirits, “Who is my Devil? Who do I blame for my suffering?”

Two days later, I learned.

I was working yet another event—this one with much higher stakes—and a man walked out of the tech booth and walked toward me with open arms for a hug. It took me a minute to recognize him, but then I did: the only boyfriend I had in high school. My first comprehensive heartbreak and someone I’d referred to for years as “bad, evil, terrible…” along with the canon of bitter terms a teenaged girl will throw at her first heartbreak. I attached those terms to his name in thoughts and words for years after we went our separate ways. Now, there he was running the light board for a work event, which was a very big deal for my company. I couldn’t have been happier to know a friendly, competent person was there. It was a big, big day for my company. I knew his work ethic and his love for a project. I knew he would be further invested in its success because of our past. I was comforted. Someone was on my and my company’s side.

We hugged and shared our recent personal victories-his recent marriage and my engagement. How many years had I only thought of this person in the context of my suffering? I had forgotten that for years prior to our trying to date, he’d been a very good friend. We were part of a gang of theatre kids who loved the shit out of each other and laughed nonstop. Every fond memory I’d had of him had been eclipsed by my personal mythology’s Devil.

In that moment, a Devil had been exorcised.

So what did that mean for me? I found the answer in the content of the event that day. One of the speakers was an activist-filmmaker who spoke about filming someone whose personal and political views she strongly opposed. She said her interview was like “sitting down to dine with the Devil”—someone she had automatically assumed was her enemy. Yet, she opened herself up to listen and by doing so, found a brilliant companion for her own work. By opening herself up to her own Devil, she learned from someone she never expected to teach her.

In Christianity, the Devil is often a character that tempts the world to do evil, but when I was in Catholic school, a teacher challenged that. Laying fault for the pain of the world on a god-like character removes the responsibility for the individual person. Through this experience, I learned that the Devil card for me is a reminder that blaming another person for my suffering (in the way that those other individuals had assumed I was solely responsible for their suffering) was creating a huge block in my own spirit and growth. All humanity, all of the friendship that led up to our courtship had been rendered moot by my Devil-izing him.

Let this be the start of emptying out personal Devil closets and reclaiming beautiful memories and greater places in my heart to show love.

There are lots of different kinds of Devils. Do you have a Devil like this one? Who is it? Do you have a different one?