TL;DRPerhaps no other being scares more people more than the devil does. Some people live their whole lives, constructing everything around this fear including how they dress, how they eat, and even how they make love. Who is this devil, where does belief in him come from originally, how do people view him today, and what does the Devil Arcana card in Tarot mean?
Talk to many Christians, and they will tell you the thing they scares most of all is the thought of the devil getting them. There is belief the devil can possess a human being, wreaking havoc on their life and destroying their body, and the devil makes people do terrible things they really don’t want to. There is fear that if a certain sin is unforgiven, the devil will torture them for eternity, and they will have endless days of severe misery and torment with no relief.
Who is this devil that so many live in constant fear of, and how do some religious groups view him? Who are the people who call themselves Satanists and what do they do? Finally, what does the Devil Tarot Card mean? Is the devil even real? Join us in this intimate exploration of who the devil is today.
Who is The Devil?
Most simply stated, the devil is considered by some to be the full embodiment of evil, and he is the creature that creates all things that go against the god in the Christian faith. Some believe there is no devil per se, but a creature named Satan who is an angel of Jehovah and who does jobs expected of him. Still others call him by a different name, Iblis, and he was cast out from Allah’s ranks when he disobeyed. Other people see him as an idea, and not a real being at all.
In the Old Testament books, the word satan is used, not as one person, but as somebody who opposes or acts as an adversary. You read that right. It is not explicitly stated that the serpent that tempts Eve is Satan in the Hebrew book of Genesis, for example, people just assume it is. Some modern translations list it as Satan, but that is a newer addition.
Where the adversary is specifically an angel and is called Satan in the books is in the book of Job. Even then, the way it was written was ha-satan, or “the” satan or “adversary” and this is simply a description of what the adversary is doing. In the book of Job, that god was pleased with Job, and ha-satan flat out told god if Job ever suffered, he would not be so full of praise of god. That god granted the adversary permission to make Job suffer to see how he reacted, and that adversarial being never acted on his own.
We see ha-satan, or the adversary in the Old Testament appearing twenty seven times. The word is used thirteen times in the book of Job, twice in the book of Zachariah, where the word describes an accuser, and in the eleven other instances, like in the passage of 2 Samuel 19:23. The word is used to ask people why they have become the speaker’s enemies. The word satan does not describe a being that is the ultimate evil or who wants to lead humanity astray from the creator god, however. Evil was considered its own thing, and there was no being who embodied it. Yet.
Later on in sources of Rabbinical literature, ha-satan becomes an entity who tempts rabbis to sin and tempts others to break sacred observances. Some sects of Judaism have never developed belief that Satan, or a devil existed as an entity, but others had a ceremonial horn known as a shofar to confuse Satan and keep him from leading people astray.
In the New Testament of the Bible, the word Satan is used in the books Matthew, Mark, and Luke with Satan tempting Jesus when he is fasting in the desert. Jesus is tempted a total of three times, and deflects each temptation, rebuking Satan each time. In the third temptation, Satan tells Jesus all the kingdoms of earth will be his if he worships Satan, which is refused. Many consider this proof that the earth is Satan’s kingdom because Jesus did not deny Satan’s statement it was his.
In another scriptural source, in Matthew, 16:23, Jesus tells his disciple Peter, “Get behind me Satan! You are a stumbling block to me , for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” Again, the word Satan is used in the way ha-satan was- to call somebody an adversary.
In the book of Luke, Jesus is seen healing people, casting out devils that cause various illnesses. The key word is “devils” not THE devil here, however. The gospels of Luke and John, however, directly attribute Satan’s influence to what caused Judas to decide to betray Jesus.
In the Book of Revelations, multiple references to beasts and dragons are assumed by some to be Satan. However, the specific part of Revelations believed by many to allude to Satan is of the battle between the Dragon and his followers and the armies of god in heaven. The Dragon and his forces are defeated, and cast out of heaven onto the Earth and he was then chained up and thrown into a place called the Abyss for a thousand years. After the thousand years was up, he again gathered fighters and declared war against the just and good. He was again defeated this time by fire from heaven and cast into a lake of fire.
During the Middle Ages, during the Inquisition, the devil became the central figure people focused on, as they were working their hardest to fight against Satan and go to heaven. Aside from the Inquisition was witch trials that made their way to places even the Catholic Church did not govern. It was believed that witches were people who were guilty of maleficum, or evil magic and this was often believed to be accomplished by using the power of the devil to hurt people. It was further believed the witches not only harnessed Satan’s power, but they also worshipped him. There is no way to know exactly how many innocent people were put to death during witch trials, but an estimate is that between 1450 to 1750, in Germany alone, close to 40,000 people were killed.
The Salem Witch Trials are an example of how mass hysteria and fear of the devil drove people to do horrible things to their neighbors and you can read about that here: The History Of The Salem Witch Hunt | Mysticsense
Some modern conservative Christian groups have belief they must work hard to keep away from Satan. An article in Patheos talks about certain Pentecostal groups. “ The devil exists for Pentecostals, as do his legion of demons. Demons can afflict Christians if they allow certain "doors to the demonic" to be opened. What usually opens the door for such demonic activity is moral laxity, the transgression of strict Pentecostalism standards for piety and sexual morality. On nearly every deliverance ministry website, there is a section that informs visitors that certain behaviors are more apt to stir the demonic into action-such things as "sexual sin" (usually adultery and homosexuality), occult activity (fortune-telling, palm reading, tarot cards, Ouiji boards), and sometimes even body piercings. Many deliverance ministries offer services for exorcism, while others offer such things as the anointing and consecrating of homes.”
To read that entire article, click here: Pentecostal - Suffering and the Problem of Evil (patheos.com)
For a more in depth exploration of the history of belief in Satan and ha-satan in the Jewish and Christian faiths, the book The Devil, A Biography by Peter Stanford can be purchased here: The Devil: A Biography: Amazon.co.uk: Stanford, Peter: 9780099465560: Books
Islam tells a more specific story. It says Allah made all the djinn from the smokeless fire and they were pure, perfect creatures. Yet when he made Adam, the first man, he made him out of clay. Allah was so pleased with this creation, he ordered all to bow before Adam, but the djinn, Iblis flat out refused. He stated he bowed only before Allah, who had made that THING out of dir, which he would never bow tot. Allah punished Iblis by casting him out of paradise. Iblis was so upset by this, he decided to do all he could to lead humanity astray, and henceforth became known as Al-Shaitan- the demon. Allah allows this because he believed the righteous would be able to refuse temptation.
Surprisingly, Satanists do not worship the devil, nor do they believe in his existence as an actual being. While there are plenty of solitary practitioners of Satanism, they are organized into two main organizations, both of which have multiple branches in either The Church of Satan or The Satanic Temple.
The Church of Satan
The first Edition of The Satanic Bible was published in 1969, and was written by Anton Szandor LaVey, the founder of The Church of Satanism. In the book, he presented his religion, Satanism which was an atheist faith that included both the practice of ceremonial magic and sex magick, using Satan as only an archetype, representing what he believed is natural for people to do. LaVey wrote nine statements including ,
1 Satan represents indulgence, instead of abstinence!
2 Satan represents vital existence, instead of spiritual pipe dreams!
3 Satan represents undefiled wisdom, instead of hypocritical self- deceit!
4 Satan represents kindness to those who deserve it, instead of love wasted in ingrates!
5 Satan represents vengeance, instead of turning the other cheek!
6 Satan represents responsibility to the responsible, instead of concern for psychic vampires!
7 Satan represents man as just another animal, sometimes better, more often worse than those that walk on all-fours, who, because if his “divine spiritual and intellectual development” has become the most vicious animal of all!
8 Satan represents all of the so-called sins. As they lead to physical, mental, or emotional gratification!
9 Satan has been the best friend the church has ever had, and has kept it in business all these years!
In The Satanic Bible, LaVey says the church attacked Satan, twisting their religion to suit their desires, declaring things evil or good as they saw fit, and he completely rejected every last bit of the teachings. He formed his own church, acting as High Priest, and made media appearances, published more books, and after his passing, the church still operates under new leadership.
A video about his Church of Satan, where LaVey speaks about it can be seen here:(49) Late 1970s Early 1980s Interview with Anton LaVey, Occult, Satanist - YouTube
The Satanic Temple
Another form of Satanism that is different from LaVey’s Church of Satan is the Satanic Temple, and the leader who has gained noticeability in recent years is Lucien Greaves. Rather than think if themselves as a church as LaVey’s organization, Greaves and others with The Satanic Temple think of themselves as more focused on human rights, social justice, separation of church and state, religious freedom and empathy and benevolence for all people. They have seven fundamental tenets:
1.One should strive to act with compassion and empathy toward all creatures in accordance with reason.
2.The struggle for justice is an ongoing and necessary pursuit that should prevail over laws and institutions.
3.One’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone.
4.The freedoms of others should be respected, including the freedom to offend. To willfully and unjustly encroach upon the freedoms of another is to forgo one’s own.
5.Beliefs should conform to one’s best scientific understanding of the world. One should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit one’s beliefs.
6.People are fallible. If one makes a mistake, one should do one’s best to rectify it and resolve any harm that might have been caused.
7.Every tenet is a guiding principle designed to inspire nobility in action and thought. The spirit of compassion, wisdom, and justice should always prevail over the written or spoken word.
The Satanic Temple’s web page can be found here:The Satanic Temple - About us - TST
An interview where Greaves talks about The Satanic Temple can be watched here:(49) The Rise of the Satanic Temple | Good Morning Britain - YouTube
The Devil in Tarot
In a Tarot card reading, the Devil card means something entirely different than what the devil means to religious people and those who are Satanic, however. The Devil card is just one of the cards in the Tarot Deck, and one of the twenty-two cards in the Major Arcana.
Before you read about the devil card, read about the Major Arcana here:The Major Arcana of Tarot and the Cards Meanings | Mysticsense
The Devil Card
In the Rider-Waite Tarot deck, the imagery of the Devil card includes a terrifying ogre like beast holding two lovers chained. The Devil and the lovers in the card represent something absolutely horrible that has you bound and helpless. It may be addiction or an abusive relationship or even a toxic workplace environment, but something or another is holding you fast, restricting your freedom. It may even be causing depression or have you believing there is no way out and that you will always be trapped in this bad situation.
The Devil Love Reading
The devil in love reading indicates you need to examine your attachment to an individual or situation that is not good. You may be in an abusive or toxic situation with a lover or even in an environment they have you stuck in that is simply holding you back from being who you are born to be. The lovers and the Devil in the card symbolize an unnatural bond you have with somebody and one that you have the power to release yourself from. Love is the Devil’s way of keeping you trapped here, and you should simply break the chains of whatever the images in the card represent and walk away.
The Devil Card Reversed
Reversed, the Devil card represents breaking the unhealthy bonds it showed right side up, and somehow releasing yourself to freedom. Depending on what else is going on, the card is telling you the time is either at hand to take steps to free yourself, or that you have already done so, and can breathe a sigh of relief. The Devil relationship reading reversed is slightly different but no less important.
The Devil Reversed Love Reading
The Devil card love reading reversed is indicating detachment and defeating things that would hold you against your will- and in this case it means relationships that are bad. The Devil lovers reversed reading if you are asking about somebody you are newly involved with is this individual will give you the freedom to love on your terms and you need not worry about them mistreating you.
The Devil Reversed “Yes” or “No”
Some people like to use Tarot cards in a one card draw to ask a question that is answered by “Yes” or “No”. Because of how the Devil card reversed indicates freedom and liberation, the card can be a resounding “Yes!” if you are asking if something is in your favor. Right side, up, you can count it as a “No” because of all the bad things the card warns of in a right side up reading.
Some people would say the greatest lie the Devil convinced humanity of is that he does not exist, and some will dismiss him as complete superstitious nonsense and simply our way to personify the very existence of evil. To some, the Devil is as real as the nose on their face, and to others, just another fictional character they watch other people terrify themselves with. The devil does exist at least in the minds of those who believe in him, but some would say that’s the only say he manifests other than in Tarot to tell us to get our bad relationship decisions under control before they cripple us.
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About the Author: Saoirse has studied magic and lore for most of her life, but started walking her own Magical Path after being spiritually reborn in the desert. Today she shares her gifts as a Psychic and Content Writer for Mysticsense and she writes for Pagan Pages emag.
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