This is a post that I feel deserves to appear on both my blogs for the simple reason that it is something about my life, and also something about Tarot. And both are integral parts of me.
This post is about the Devil.
First a little background to why this post sprung up. It is essential. I was surfing the net as I am wont to do when I don’t have anything better to do. Just ended up on Yahoo! Answers and put in “Tarot” in the ‘Search’ box and hit enter. Just to see what comes up, you know. Then stuff began to pop up which began to make me wonder.
Tarot is recently gaining quite an amount of popularity in India on account of a Tarot reader (I really don’t know who) who came on to a cricket match show and predicted the outcome of the game. Soon enough, we had a bunch of Tarot readers on the popular news channels and newspapers giving out advice and daily/weekly predictions for each sign. And then we have “Tarot Readers” springing up all over the place, teachers teaching Tarot all over the country and so on and so forth.
Like every other method of ‘fortune-telling’ this one also has its bad apples, and its materialists. For me Tarot became something else altogether. I admit it began as a ‘fortune-telling’ medium, but as I studied and as I came closer to the meanings of the cards, it became much more than just that for me. Tarot cards became the lamps lighting my way on my spiritual path, guiding me.
Of course, I have to point out here, that being a Hindu, I have not much of an idea about Christian concepts and ideologies. However, the Tarot was full of them. So I ended up doing a bit of research. Since I have had a fascination of mythology and the concept of ‘story creation’ as a base of myth, I had some idea about Greek, Roman, Egyptian and of course, Hindu mythology. I never knew that reading up on all this would one day culminate into Tarot so simply.
So when I saw all the people on the site condemning Tarot for being ‘the work of the Devil’ and all those who practiced Tarot were supposed to be ‘the Devil’s disciples’ and so on, I began to wonder. Luckily, in India, which is primarily a Hindu nation, perhaps this drivel won’t filter down. Perhaps, that is why I am able to see this without prejudice and without any pre-conceived ideas. Who knows?
I have met a couple of Christians in my time: a guy who won’t read ‘The Da Vinci Code’ for example (it’s just a book for crying out loud! And it says ‘Fiction” very clearly on the cover!) and this woman who told me that we all were ‘born in sin!’. So yeah! In my experience, I find these people a bit, well, cuckoo! Oh yeah, and yesterday I ended up watching ‘Carrie’ on MGM. 😀 LOL 😀
So who the heck is this Devil guy anyway? I know that there is a Devil card in the Tarot. Of course, I kinda had a personal interest in him because in the Tarot this card of the Major Arcana also stands for the sign Capricorn. And according to my date of birth, I am a Capricorn. So you see I had to know more. So I googled the Devil. Heeheehee. A lot of sites turned up. The list of what all I had to read through is given at the end of this post. If anyone is interested in some further reading…
So the Christian Bible, the Islamic Quran and the Jewish Bible have got this Devil character figuring in there. Apparently, he was one of the angels that God had created. When Man was created, God asked these angels to bow before his creation. But this fella refused to do so because he preferred to bow down only in front of God. So God became angry with him and cast him out of Heaven. (!!!???!!!) And then when Adam and Eve were living in the Garden of Eden, this Devil in the form of a snake convinced Eve that she ought to eat this fruit from this ‘Tree of Knowledge’ so that she would be as knowledgeable as God. Not only did she eat this fruit, but she also gave it to Adam, who also ate it. After that these two (Adam and Eve) ended up ‘knowing’ (what?). This was the ‘original sin’. And that is why all the descendants of Adam and Eve (that is all of us!) are ‘born in sin’.
Phew! I hope I got the gist right! If not, please do feel free to correct me if I have missed out on something.
There is a Tarot card showing something like this in a card called Lovers.
In this card we see Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Behind Adam is the Tree of Life (with its flame-like leaves) and behind Eve is the Tree of Knowledge (complete with the apples and the serpent). Adam looks on to Eve, who in turn is looking heavenwards, at the Angel blessing them both. This card means choices, relationships, love, divine inspiration and so on. But this picture conveys so much more than all that. The man and woman can reach bliss and thoughtlessness only when they are ‘with’ each other. This bliss is often referred to as a glimpse into an enlightened state of being. Towards this end, for the man this woman becomes the means to achieving this state. But then, it also says to me that the woman doesn’t need the man to get to this state. She is the womb and thus the Mother. She goes through these cycles of creation-able-ness every month. She instinctively knows what it is all about. She can get to this enlightened state of being simply through her own awareness of the movement of the cycles on a spiritual level. The man can also reach this state of bliss on his own. He, however, needs to do more work on raising his awareness levels and getting attuned to these cycles.
*Methinks Mr. A.E. Waite was a feminist.*
We have a whole bunch of people criticizing and condemning, not just Tarot but also other forms of divination. Now ‘divination’ means ‘A prediction uttered under divine inspiration’. Apparently the Bible condemns all this, and the people who do this ‘divinition’ are all witches and so on. But, as far as I can see from all the info about the Bible and Quran on the Net, the Bible and the Quran itself have a bunch of predictions and so on within them. Now what’s the deal with that?
Now don’t get me wrong. I am not against any religion. Really. I am just against the hypocrisy created by ‘organized religion’. My own religion is also included in this list. Any religion, when it becomes ‘organized’ becomes open to corruption. Either from within or without. This corruption becomes an essential part of this drama created by that religion. So then we have dogmas emerging, and we have rituals emerging and then we have strict enforcement of certain religious statements emerging. True debate over the concepts in that religion is suppressed. Each statement is easily open to debate and criticism. But that is suppressed. Each person within this religion is expected to follow the rules that are laid down. There is no place for rational thoughts and complete obedience is expected. And usually there is a Priest of some sort at the top of this hierarchy laying down these ‘laws’ based on the basic religious text of that religion.
But then, each religion does have its good points. As far as I know, there isn’t a single religion in the world that tells you to lie, cheat and steal. All religions tell you to be good, tell the truth and be kind to other people.
And yet, we have people killing each other in the name of a religion. We have people discriminating in the name of a religion. We have people hating each other in the name of a religion. Why?
Even in Hinduism, we had the caste system which created discrimination. Today, this kind of discrimination has been abolished by the law, but it still exists. This is the bit I don’t like about it myself.
There is a card in Tarot which represents this bit about ‘organized religion’. It is called ‘The Hierophant’. This card shows a Pope blessing two students and there are two keys at his feet. This card can stand for morality, society, religious initiation, systematic and orderly mode of study, and so on.
What I feel that this picture is trying to convey is that ‘organized religion’ need not be the barrier that it is made out to be. Religion and its study and practice need not be so ritualistic and dogmatic. For somewhere within the babble of this and that, lie the keys to your own realization. It’s just a question of how you end up using that knowledge and when and what you use it for. Within this card therefore, I see a very valuable paradox. This card is not quite what you see at first glance. Although, one must pass through certain strict processes to look within and understand the basic tenets of any religion, once one has the keys to that inner wisdom, one can still make a choice and use that knowledge well. Only those among the learned ones who feel the need for control go the way of fanaticism and those who truly understand the concepts use it for good deeds. The rituals are simply the means of getting attuned to that particular energy level. Most religions have them, one way or the other. These, I feel cannot be truly avoided or done away with. In fact, there exist a plethora of rituals because not one size fits all. To each his own. Even in that, every religion has given us some space.
So where does the Devil fit into all this? Yup, like I said before, we have a card called The Devil in the Tarot deck.
In this card, we see the two characters from the Lovers card chained to this block. But the chains are not tight about their necks. This funny looking person who has horns, bats wings, the upper body of a man and the lower body of some furry animal and claws of a bird for his feet is sitting on top of this block. He looks unhappy. In one hand he carries a flaming torch which he points downwards, right behind the backside of the man. And with the other he makes some sort of a ‘V” sign (remember Star Trek?) with his fingers. Also there is an inverted pentacle on this person’s head. Now, the man and the woman have also undergone some changes. They both have sprouted horns. The man has a tail with the end being a leaf from the Tree of Life and the woman has a tail with a bunch of grapes at the end. The landscape is darkness.
This card means to tell us to look within our inner darkness – this is the darkness of the soul. To see that the chains and shackles are of our own making. To understand that we should not be tied to the rituals and moral codes of living and knowing. That we should understand that these are the things within us that keep us locked into this darkness. The ritual does not mean attainment. That the moral code is just the way but not the answer. This card also ties into the materialistic outlook that people have about their life, which ends tying them down. Sometimes, to me, it talks of addiction, relationships and jobs that feel like chains and restrict your personal development and so on.
Perhaps, this is also a lesson to the Capricorn-people to come out of their materialistic attitude about life.
This funny looking person on top of the block is actually a synthesis of a whole bunch of pre-Christian deities such as Pan, and Cernunnos, and The Horned One. Each one of them had their own bunch of myths.
Here is a quote from the bit about Pan as to how the symbol for the sign of ‘Capricorn’ emerged:
The constellation Capricornus is often depicted as a sea-goat, a goat with a fish’s tail: see Aigaion or Briareos, one of the Hecatonchires. One myth that would seem to be invented to justify a connection of Pan with Capricorn says that when Aigipan, that is Pan in his goat-god aspect, was attacked by the monster Typhon, he dove into the Nile; the parts above the water remained a goat, but those under the water transformed into a fish.
And of course we have the pentacle being condemned for being a symbol of the Devil. When in fact, it is a symbol of all the five elements in Nature: Fire, Air, Water, Earth and Spirit. Upward pointing pentacles, to me signal that all these elements are being channeled into the spirit. Downward pointing pentacles signify that this spirit essence is being channeled within us.
Of course, the horror film industry has built this whole thing up into a vast money making business. And this added to the ideas of the masses that the pentacle was a sign of the Devil. I suppose, the Church also gave it some added impetus. And thus, the Pentacle became an ‘evil’ symbol. So tell me, where is this ‘evil’ in all the five elements of nature?
So now we come down to what it actually boils down to, for me.
This ‘Devil’ is nothing but the inner darkness that we all have to face from time to time. In Hinduism we have the concept of ‘Dvaita’ which means ‘Duality’. Within us exist both good and bad, black and white, yin and yang, male and female, positive and negative and so on. What we as human beings are challenged to face is the creation of a synthesis of all these aspects. Because that is essential for us to attain the state of being closer to an enlightened state of bliss. This is what we have to conquer within ourselves.
Without one, there is no other. If there would not have been ‘bad’ then we would not know what is ‘good’. Without white, black would be meaningless. The male and female principles have to unite to generate the act of creation. This duality is therefore essential to any kind of movement of the spirit.
So Tarot cards have got these principles and these secrets intertwined within them with the use of pictures and symbols. This so-called ‘secret knowledge’ is freely available for those who choose to know it within the Book of Tarot. The Tarot readers who understand this knowledge and incorporate this knowledge within their life, will find that they are part of a free and straightforward system of attaining that state of enlightened bliss. And their journey then begins.
Of course, it is not easy. No one said that it would be. But it is a beginning and as such, this process is fully comprised of looking within and creating and inner awareness and seeking out knowledge and so on. Thus, this system does not need any intermediaries between the reader and the universal consciousness.
It’s like a direct connection with the knowledge within oneself and within the universe. And the Tarot cards are just like the runway for the soul-aeroplane. They provide the place or the means for this jump or this connection to take place.
Perhaps this is why the Church opposes the Tarot cards. If everyone had such a connection, then these Churches would not be needed. And perhaps that is why they are called the work of the Devil. Because they are a straightforward means of getting the ‘knowledge’ – like eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge.
When I was a child, my grandmother always told me that if I had to stand against something or not like something, then I had to find out what it was all about in the first place before condemning it.
My suggestion to all the Tarot-haters of the world is that they find out what the cards are all about in the first place before they condemn it. Half knowledge is, in fact, a dangerous thing.
If one really sees the cards and their meanings for what they are, then one will understand that they don’t give out any ‘bad’ messages. (Of course, there is more to it than that as well, but that is for another post!)
And as far as the knowledge of the future events goes, all Tarot-ists will tell you that the future is something that isn’t hard and fast written on stone. It isn’t something that cannot be changed.
In fact, Tarot readings are meant to be a guidance for the future. They are meant to help the querents see how they can prepare themselves for the forthcoming events and to see how they can use their ‘free will’ to create a change within themselves so that it reflects in their lives.
Because somewhere we all have the power within ourselves to create and generate our lives. What we think, feel, talk – is all converted into energy and gets manifested within our lives. So we are in fact active participants in our future. Perhaps that is why each religion tells us to speak the truth, be kind towards other people and so on. Because this energy that we send out to the world is thus going to manifest in our life in a good way.
And then when we don’t see this cause-effect relationship manifesting, we begin to question more deeply and stumble upon the concepts of Karma, Past Life Karma and so on. But all that is fodder for another post – wot say? Stay tuned! 😀
So here are the links that I mentioned at the very beginning, a bibliography of sorts:
Does give you something to think about, doesn’t it?