The Devil Tarot Card Meanings (Upright & Reversed)
Last Updated: February 21, 2023
The Devil is card number 15 (XV) in modern cartomantic tarot decks and the 16th major arcana trump card (The Fool, number 0, is the first card). Divination practices such as cartomancy can help us make decisions, offer guidance, and help us tune into our intuition when we are at a crossroads in our lives. Understanding the meanings of each tarot card can help you sharpen your interpretative skills so you can get the most out of your readings.
In this article, we will explore the different meanings of this tarot card in various reading contexts as well as the different advice it can offer. To help you understand the deep symbolism within that card, we begin with the below narrative.
“Don’t let the Devil escape his confinement, for he’ll creep over and lace his long weaving claws around you, lulling you into a false sense of reality, a place you’ll become too comfortable to move from. But you must. You must place your hands on those claws and force them away, unravel them from his grasp, and push him back into his confinement. But beware…don’t let his eyes hypnotise you back into his crooked claws.”
4 Quick takeaways about this card
- The Devil tarot card is a reminder that we all have a dark side.
- It’s important to face our demons and understand them, rather than trying to ignore them.
- The Devil can also represent addiction, obsession, and self-destructive behaviour.
- Finally, The Devil card is a sign that it is time to make important changes in our lives.
The Devil tarot card key correspondences
Shadow self, desire, temptation, manipulation, cruelty, addiction, restriction.
Release, freedom, overcoming addiction, independence.
|Yes or No|
Light aspect: The Trickster / Shadow aspect: The Victim, The Addict, The Bully
December 22nd to January 19th
Typhon (Egyptian Tarot), and Le Diable (Tarot de Marseille).
What does the upright Devil (tarot card XV) mean?
In Latin, major arcana translates to “big secrets” and each of the 22 cards in this section of the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck represents an important life lesson we must all face at some point. The Devil, arcanum 15, is no different.
The Devil card serves to bring awareness to your unhealthy habits and behaviours, ones you may feel you cannot escape. Just as the card depicts two humanoid beings loosely chained to the Devil, this represents our own struggle to escape our demons, sometimes not willing to do so out of belief that we can’t, that we’re trapped, even though we can indeed slip out of that chains, we don’t need to remain trapped.
This can also represent behaviours or actions that provide instant gratification even if you’re aware of the long term effects being detrimental to yourself; and potentially those around you.
It is absolutely possible to escape your chains, this card appearing serves as a conscious reminder so you have the opportunity to both acknowledge them and begin working on how to escape them. You have the ability to remove the chains, it will take time and it will take effort, but you are fully capable of doing so.
The Devil is the fifteenth tarot card (XV) in the major arcana. In terms of numerology, this card reduces to 6 (15 = 1+5 which equals 6), the positive attributes of 6 consist of responsibility to oneself, your friends and family, and your community. The Devil card reverses these traits and represents selfishness, lack of care for others, and being irresponsible.
When pulled in the upright position, the Devil is associated with the shadow self, desire, temptation, manipulation, cruelty, addiction, and restriction.
What does the upright Devil mean in a love reading?
In a relationship, the presence of this card can suggest a handful of things. It can suggest that either yourself or your partner may feel trapped, there may be a lot of co-dependency going on to the point it’s become unhealthy.
It can also be linked to mental health issues that are affecting the relationship, an issue where professional help is necessary and just cannot be ignored, but it can also be linked to jealousy, abuse, cheating, and even violence. If this is the case then supporting cards pulled alongside the Devil will be able to elaborate.
However, if you are single then the Devil card can suggest you are engaging in dangerous sexual behaviour and/or allowing yourself to openly be used by people that do not care for you, but you allow this to happen because of your need to be loved.
If there is a potential love interest then this card serves as a warning that this individual won’t be good for you, even if they seem intriguing at first, this is your warning sign that they are dangerous and you must not allow them into your life.
What does the upright Devil mean in a career reading?
In a career spread, the presence of the Devil card can suggest that you feel trapped in a job that you hate, it’s time to really think about what you want from your career, and if you need to move on then know that you have the ability to leave.
The message here is that you can work towards finding other jobs, you don’t need to remain where you are.
However it can also be related to a coworker, there could be someone that is very much trying to sabotage you, so this serves as a reminder that you need to be careful of who you trust, someone that seems friendly may be looking to stab you in the back at the first moment they get – if they aren’t already doing so.
What does the upright Devil mean in a health reading?
For many tarotists, the appearance of the Devil in a health spread may be serving as a reminder of the negative health effects being brought on by negative behaviours you are engaging in (alcohol, drugs, binge eating, etc), or it may be a pointer towards a mental health issue – something you need to speak to a professional about.
But in terms of physical health, if you feel something is the matter then this is an advice to go and get checked by your doctor, or if you have already been diagnosed then this is a reminder that you don’t need to fear your illness and make sure that you aren’t limiting yourself and what you do. You are not your illness.
The Devil card as feelings/emotions
If you are asking the tarot how someone feels about you, pulling The Devil card suggests that this is someone that does not have good intentions.
This isn’t someone that wants to see you be well and happy, this is someone that will most likely have malicious intent especially when it comes to emotional manipulation.
Big red flag. Big bad omen. This is someone to avoid in their entirety as they don’t have good plans for you.
The Devil card as a person
As a personality archetype, The Devil card represents someone that you absolutely need to stay away from. This is someone that just wants to manipulate, use and abuse, and will stop at nothing to achieve what they want.
They will exploit anyone and anything for their own personal gain. They will not be a compassionate or understanding individual, they see others as a means to get what they are after.
The Devil card will represent a person that is power-hungry, strong-willed, and will happily exploit others for their own gain. They aren’t necessarily bothered by any consequences as they will go after what they want with sheer determination, and will most likely oppose any sort of change.
The Devil card as advice
If you are asking the tarot for advice regarding a specific situation in your life, pulling the Devil is a reminder that the power is within you already. Embrace it.
Be true to yourself, be true to your feelings and emotions, even if it means letting your hair down a little in the long run, you have the power to do what’s best for you – no one can take that power from you so long you don’t let them!
But you still need to be aware of how and what you’re doing, it’s easy to get lost in our desires and impulses sometimes, so whilst it’s okay to own who we are, even this must be limited. Be conscious, but overindulge safely.
What is the zodiac or astrological sign associated with the Devil?
The Devil card is linked to the zodiac sign Capricorn. These are usually individuals that are driven by status, by career, by pushing forward through sheer determination to achieve their goals. They are often seen as leaders, the ones that’ll stop at nothing to achieve what they’ve set their sights on, they always want the best of the best.
Is the Devil a yes or no tarot card?
This is a big fat nope! The Devil is a bad omen when it comes to yes or no questions, and what you’re questioning is very much not the thing for you! You will not have any luck with what you’re questioning, nothing but negativity surrounds this. Move onto a different path.
Below are some of my interpretations, as an experienced tarot practitioner, based on different types of questions:
Question: “Will I get the job?”
Card Interpretation: The appearance of the Devil in relation to this question may be offering you a chance to withdraw your application, or reject the job if it’s offered to you. This could be a job full of toxicity, whether that’s the work itself, or the boss in charge. This could be a job that ends up making you feel trapped, zapping you of your energy, and one you very much don’t feel happy in.
Question: “Is this new person in my life good for me?”
Card Interpretation: Nope! This is not someone you should be keeping around, this isn’t someone that will have any good intentions with you! They may be someone that easily ‘wins you over’, or has you swooning, and thinking that they’re great, but don’t fall for their charm. This isn’t someone that will have your health and happiness in mind. Avoid, avoid, avoid.
Question: “Will I achieve my current goals?”
Card Interpretation: The Devil card is here to remind you that you may be limiting yourself, and it’s you that’ll hold yourself back from achieving your own goals! It’s very easy to fall into the trap of seeing ourselves in a negative light, and avoiding doing something because it won’t instantly be ‘perfect’, and that can lead to us becoming fearful of failure, so instead of progressing we just hold ourselves back. The Devil here is calling for you to bring awareness to how you’re being with yourself, look at your mindset, are you being too negative towards yourself and how you can achieve what you’re after? It’s time to look at changing your thoughts to those of a more positive nature because you can! You really can!
Question: “Should I make that investment?”
Card Interpretation: Not right now, being careless with money will have you to suffer the consequences at this time. So hold back regardless of how enticing the investment may look. Nothing good will come of this!
Question: “Should I start my own business?”
Card Interpretation: If you do, then you’ve got to be willing to do everything it takes to beat your competition, otherwise, your idea will be doomed to fail. It won’t be an easy journey and it’s going to be a lot of hard work. However, if this card has appeared as the ‘outcome’ in relation to a business idea, it could also be suggesting that there may be very little hope for this plan to work out. No matter what you do, it isn’t destined to be! Time to reassess what your venture should be!
What does the reversed Devil card mean in Tarot?
You are becoming aware of the chains attached to you that have been keeping you trapped, and you are aware of your own actions in allowing yourself to remain trapped. It is a very positive card in the sense it serves as a reminder that you’re on the right path to taking back control, you want to be free and you now have the motivation to make the changes required.
When pulled in the reversed position, the Devil is associated with release, freedom, overcoming addiction, and independence.
What does the inverted Devil mean in a love reading?
If you’re in a relationship then you may have been experiencing problems that were going to inevitably lead to you splitting up, but you’ve now started to work past and resolve these issues.
Or there’s a chance one, or both, of you, were going to engage in behaviour that would have ended the relationship, such as cheating, but ultimately decided against it.
If you’ve been with someone that’s abusive then the presence of this card suggests that you’re finally beginning to see your worth and know that you deserve better and deserve to leave your current situation.
If you’re single then the appearance of this card may suggest you’ve stopped being willing to put up with anything for the sake of wanting love so desperately, you have no doubt realised your worth and know it’s time to take a step back from dating to focus on yourself.
What does the upside-down Devil mean in a career reading?
You are finally regaining control and can see the bigger picture on what it is that you want for your career. You’ve gained enough control back to start working on taking practical steps to get to where you want to be. You’re coming to realise that status and/or money isn’t worth sacrificing your happiness for.
What does the reverse Devil mean in a health reading?
If you’ve been engaging in any harmful habits/addictions previously then the appearance of this card suggests that you are finally on the road to recovery! It still, however, serves as a reminder that you must stay focused and not slip back into old habits.
It can also suggest that you’re making progress with any mental health issues that were causing problems previously, or even starting to overcome the likes of stress and anxiety.
How to use the Devil card in your Spellwork
The Devil card can easily be worked into any boundary spellwork you want to do. If you are looking to protect yourself and banish negative aspects (behaviours, habits, etc) that do not serve you then you can do as follows:
- Cleanse a jar or small bowl with incense.
- Take the Devil card and place it below the jar or bowl.
- Place basil (dry or fresh) at the bottom of the jar/bowl.
- Start writing on pieces of paper what things you wish to banish from your life (examples being alcoholism, binge eating, gambling, promiscuous behaviour, etc).
- Fold or roll up each section of the paper and lay them on top of the basil.
- Sprinkle some banishing oil on top of each piece of paper. (Banishing oil can be made up of the following: oil, peppercorns, lemon peel, garlic, peppermint, and rosemary. But variations of the ingredients list exist, use what feels right to you.)
- Grip the jar/bowl with both hands and momentarily focus on your intention of banishing these negative aspects away and setting the boundary of not welcoming these as parts of your life.
- Turn the jar/bowl anti-clockwise 3 times whilst solely focusing on your intention(s).
- Finish by saying “so mote it be” or “by my will, it will be” or any other variation – whatever is your favourite.
- Leave the jar/bowl on top of the card in a secure place until you start to successfully banish these aspects from your life. Make sure to cleanse the Devil card before placing it back with your other tarot cards, and you can dispose of the contents in any way you feel necessary (such a burying in dirt), and make sure to cleanse the bowl/jar (or whatever container you used) before using it again.
You can also use the Devil card if the negative aspect you wish to banish is in the form of a person. To do this you can:
- Take two black or white candles.
- Carve your name into one, and the name of the person, you wish to be rid of, on the other.
- Tie a piece of string (or black ribbon can also be used) to both candles to join them together, making sure to leave enough string between the two that can be cut or burnt later.
- Move the two candles so there’s space between them and then place the Devil card between the two but far enough away (around 15cm) so that it doesn’t catch on fire from the flames. You can visualise the individual in place of the Devil – use the card to physically represent that person.
- Focus on your intention as you light both candles.
- Now you have two options: you can remain focused on your intention, or speak allowed if you so choose to until it feels right to cut the string & allow the two candles to fully burn out before disposing of them separately (do not dispose of them in the same place). Or you can allow the string to catch on fire and burn along with the candles, repeating the same action of letting the candles fully burn out before disposing of them separately. Of course, just be very careful if you choose to allow the string to burn, and make sure to not leave the candles unattended whilst they burn.
Please note that here at Backyard Banshee, whilst we absolutely implore you to try different rituals to benefit yourself, we also 100% stand by you seeking professional help where necessary.
At no point would we tell you to try and tackle a serious issue, such as alcoholism, on your own without professional support. Use these rituals alongside professional help (if it’s required).
Using the Devil card in Dreamwork
If the Devil is showing up in your dreams, typically it’s a warning sign to you that people (or situations) are not what they seem. It could be that there are people leading you astray or not having the best intentions for yourself, and so with that, your subconscious is sharing its concerns with you to address in your day to day conscious life.
Make more protective choices for yourself. There is a lot of symbolism with sexuality, fear and power when it comes to the Devil too.
If you are working on ways for exploring these themes for yourself, why not try sitting with the Devil tarot card before bed and allowing yourself to daydream about A Most Sensual & Powerful Version Of Yourself. This may bring the version of you forward quickly.
A Poem to remember the upright meanings
Poems can be a good way to remember information because they often use rhyme and rhythm, which can make them easier to memorize.
Additionally, poems often use vivid imagery and figurative language, which can help to make the information more interesting and engaging.
The Devil card conveys a sense of dread,
A warning to those who look ahead
To darker days and deeper nights
Where we must confront our greatest frights.
The Devil card is a representation
Of all the dark forces of temptation
It warns us of the pain and strife
And the dangers of a reckless life.
It speaks of our cravings and passions,
Our need for power, wealth and fashion
It warns of the dangers of obsession,
And tells us to beware of our own transgression.
The Devil card holds a lesson,
That too much of a good thing can be a blessin’
It shows us the importance of self-control,
And the power of the choices we make in our soul.
The Devil card is a reminder,
Of our need to be kinder
It speaks of the importance of humility,
And the power of choosing the path of serenity.
The Devil card is a warning,
That we must find our own way of morning
It speaks of the power of love,
And the importance of rising above.
A Poem to remember the reversal meanings
The Devil reversed, no longer binds
Our souls, no longer holds us blind
We can now break through our fears
And face the truth and shed our tears
We can now be truly free
And shed these chains of misery
A chance to reach out for a new start
To close this chapter and choose heart.
The Devil reversed, no longer our fear
A chance for a new life, the start of a year,
The power of transformation and renewal
A chance to reclaim our lives and be truly free.
In conclusion, The Devil tarot card is a powerful symbol of the shadow self, desire, and temptations. When this card appears in your reading, it is often a sign that it is time to reflect on your negative patterns in life and realise that you can break free of them.
Despite its association with mysticism and occultism, the tarot has grown to become much more than a simple “fortune-telling” tool. For many tarot readers, it is a complex system made of symbolic imagery and psychological considerations (Jungian archetypes for example) that can be used for self-exploration, meditation, and personal transformation.
The 22 major arcana cards each correspond to different aspects of the human experience that are universal. They represent the different stages of the “hero’s journey”: our biggest challenges and life lessons, as well as our highest aspirations and greatest potential.
Have you ever had a reading where The Devil card appeared? What was the outcome? What does The Devil mean to you personally? How do you interpret this card in your own tarot practice? Share your thoughts and experiences with me in the comments below.
If you want to know more about the different tarot cards, feel free to check out our complete list of all 78 tarot cards and their meanings.
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