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Are you getting to know your tarot deck for the first time? Learn more about scary-sounding cards like The Devil so you can be prepared if they come up!

Scary Major Arcana tarot cards: The Devil

Now that we’ve talked about the structure of the tarot deck and covered the basics of what each suit means, we can take a closer look at a topic we started to cover in Understand the meaning of tarot cards: Here’s a guide to the decks.

We talked about one of the scary-looking Major Arcana tarot cards, and that is the Death card. But we’ve barely scratched the surface of scary looking and scary sounding cards in the Major Arcana.

How warm and fuzzy does “The Devil” sound? Not so much, right? As it often is the case, that fear is mostly based on misunderstanding and taking things at face value – much like the case was with the Death card. We’re going to take a closer look at this scary Devil card so you’ll be able to see it as the blessing it can be and make the most of it when it comes out in a reading.

Upright vs. Reversed or Light vs. Shadow

The first step in fully understanding the meanings of these cards is to get a good grasp on the notion of an upright versus a reversed card or a light meaning and a shadow meaning of a card.

Upright/reversed, light/shadow

Simply put, cards can come out in the upright position meaning with the title at the bottom, or in the reversed position meaning upside-down. 

When the card is in an upright position, it means it brings forth the „positive” version of its meanings. If it comes out in the reversed position, then it’s going to bring forth the “negative” version of its meaning. You can also separate it into the light or „positive” version of the meaning, and the shadow or „negative” version of the meaning.

Take the Death card. The upright or light meaning talks about the beauty and freedom of a cycle ending and a new one beginning. It talks about the sense of liberation and self-expression you get when a phase of the old you ends and the new phase of the new you begins. The reversed or shadow meaning talks about issues with ending chapters and cycles, rebelling against it, going through issues with releasing and letting go.

No reversed cards? 

Some readers don’t read reversed cards. But they always perceive and read the light versus shadow side of the meaning. 

If you don’t see the card physically reversed, that doesn’t mean the reader doesn’t pick up on the light or shadow message coming through. It just means that they don’t need to see it physically reversed in order to pick up on the shadow message because their intuition is guiding them.

Now we’re going to take a look at both meanings of this Devil card. Working with the upright/light versus reversed/shadow message is going to help you see The Devil in a different way.

The Devil

The Devil card’s shadow or reversed meaning is the most immediate thing that comes to mind when you look at the image itself. It’s striking and definitely scary to see a horned creature, flames, and chains.

Shadow/reversed message

The shadow message is that of addictive behaviors and habits and restraints that we make ourselves prisoners of (hence the chains). It’s a card that also talks about toxic connections, our toxic or shadow self and reflections of that in different parts of our lives.

It’s important to keep in mind that these restraints can be overcome, outgrown, or released. The shadow or reversed Devil card is telling you that you’re not allowing yourself to get out of that toxic cycle.

Light/upright message

And here’s where the light or upright message of The Devil comes in. These toxic, negative, self-destructive, addictive behaviors or connections can and will be overcome. 

The upright card says you are gathering your resources and knowledge and empowering yourself to get out of the toxic cycle that you have been caught in.

In Short

Scary Major Arcana tarot cards are a message that need to be taken seriously. That’s why they look so imposing: they are meant to shock you into paying attention to that aspect of your reading.

But now that we’ve talked about the light/shadow meaning of a couple of them, you’re able to make the most of that message in order to grow.

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