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No. 16

Tarot 16

Il Diavolo, the Devil, is portrayed in the tarot of Marseille with facial features in unusual places, such as a mouth on his stomach, eyes on his knees, and so on, and has both female breasts and male genitalia. He has mammal (batlike) wings, and not goosefeather wings, unlike angels - and in some cases hooves and a hairy tail. Two demons stand somewhat loosely chained in front of him.

The Devil has animal horns in younger pictures, and batlike wings, and may also hold a pitchfork. In the Rider-Waite-Smith picture, he sits with clawed feet above two naked human demons - one male, one female, who are chained to his seat. A pentagram with a tip pointed down, is added between his horns, and he holds a torch pointing down.

Superficially, the Devil - a renamed Pagan Pan, the Horned All-God of Nature of feared sexual activity - could seem alarming [Alexander 88-90] and far out to suppressed persons, but the "cloud" has at least one silver lining:

ANECDOTE Baron Georges Leopold Cuvier (1769-1832) was a French zoologist who laid the foundations of comparative anatomy and paleontology. His outstanding achievement resulted from his ability to reconstruct whole skeletons from fragmentary remains, for he understood how particular features related to other features in a huge fabric of hallmarks.

Cuvier's logical mind once troubled a group of students who tried to play a practical joke on him. They broke into his rooms in the middle of the night, and one of them, dressed in a devil's outfit with horns, tail, and hoofed feet, approached his bed, intoning, "Cuvier, I have come to eat you!"

Cuvier woke up, gave him a single glance, and said, "All animals with horns and hooves are herbivorous. You won't eat me." Then he went back to sleep again at once. [Fa]

Much natural has very wrongly been considered impure in Christianity, even sleeping in church. It was customary to suppress nature in many ways, and some bodily functions too. In some circles among Americans, for example, nudity is considered offensive, sex is a dirty word, and cruel, brutish violence and murder is far less censored on TV than delightful sex, and there you have it. [Aomiel 53 ff]


A bad marriage can halfway enslave two people till they are old.

To be well fed and tied a lot is not all there is to a happy marriage.

In the coding system that is applied, the Horned God shares the fourth life field (area) with the Empress. What could be the reason? The Empress is presented as someone that is easily emotional, family-nurturing, and protecting good love.

If emotions and family love-making goes too far or get suppressed, it may chain us to some extent - and we are thereby turned away from a healthy and happy life - not just by lust in some directions. Unsound repressions may harm us well too, for example. And in some such cases, the divine side could find it best to hold us chained and limit our range too.


Tarot study, Literature  


Agrell, Sigurd. Die pergamenische Zauberscheibe und das Tarochspiel. Lund: The University of Lund, (Sweden), 1936.

Alexander, Skye. The Only Tarot Book You'll Ever Need: Interpret the Cards That Hold Your Future. Ill ed. Cincinnati, OH: Adams Media, 2008. Online at Google Books (limited view)

Aoumiel, Ann Moura. Origins of Modern Witchcraft: The Evolution of a World Religion.. Ill ed. Woodbury MN: Llewellyn Worldwide, 2000. Online at Google Books (limited view)

Farley, Helen. A Cultural History of Tarot: From Entertainment to Esotericism. London: I. B. Tauris, 2009. ⍽▢⍽ Helen Farley is Lecturer in Studies in Religion and Esotericism at the University of Queensland. Her book is a researched and well written study of tarot symbolism and the changing imagery in the cards. She explores ways in which the tarot reflects aspects of European culture from Medieval Italy until our times.

Huson, Paul. Mystical Origins of the Tarot: From Ancient Roots to Modern Usage. Rochester, VM: Inner Traditions / Bear and Company, 2004. Online at Google Books (limited view).

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