The hot Santa Ana winds make some folks restless but I always revel in them. There is something sensual about the caress of the hot wind on bare skin while the moon is shining on what should be a chilly winter night. LA always seems more vibrant and mysterious when the Santa Anas blow. It’s like secrets from another place are carried on the winds and howl “Come dance with me..” And I reply “Yes!”
It just so happens I have a destination in mind and it is just the right setting for my mood. I was slated to belly dance and read Tarot at Babouch. The restaurant is always like stepping through a portal and walking into a celebration tent in Morocco. A perfect exotic companion for the hot, dry desert-like winds. The place was packed. I guess I wasn’t the only one eager to be out of the house tonight.
I grab my Tarot cards and find my way to a table of seven and pull up a seat. Once again I have one person in the group who is not thrilled with the idea. In fact she is anything but. She sits to my immediate left (much to her horror). If she wasn’t wedged between me and her friends I think she would bolt for the door. For her, Tarot was the “Work of the Devil” and I was his minion incarnate.
After a brief chat and some reassurance that I’m not going to sprout horns, we reach a neutral place of “agree to disagree.” I proceed with the readings for her friends. Our truce dissolved the moment the Devil card landed in the spread of the first reading. The next five readings were accompanied by a constant chatter in my left ear formed of equal parts condemnation and desire to save my soul.
I have this vision of the proverbial Angel and Devil sitting on my shoulders whispering in my ears. The one on my left looks suspiciously like a 30-something year old woman who is really shouty. But is she the Angel or the Devil?
So who is the Devil of the Tarot and what does it mean? What is it about the image of the Devil that makes some of us want to run in fear, recoil in terror at the name or simply roll our eyes? Can you sit with that for a moment? What are the thoughts that show up for you?
The Robin Wood Tarot deck has the least “Devil like” image out of all my 20+ decks. The visual forgoes the horns, goatee and cloven hoofs of the traditional stereotype. The focus of the card is not about the Devil itself but the temptation so often associated with him.
Instead the card shows a long, dark tunnel with the promise of blue sky, greenery, life and light at the end. Two figures (one male and one female) naked in their desperation cling to a large treasure chest secured with heavy linked chain. Both reaching outward while frantically pulling on the chest, feeding the illusion of being trapped. Neither willing to release that which holds them rooted in place. All they want is to flee. Or do they?
When The Devil shows up in a reading I am always compelled to ask “What illusions are you working with? What are you holding onto that is keeping you from moving forward?” It is an opportunity to take a good look at what we are clinging to in lieu of stepping fully into our lives. It is an opportunity to seek information about the material ideology and items we invite into our lives. Can you identify the things and ideas that seduce you into thinking you need them when in fact you don’t?
For example; Those things that lull us into false security and complacency. The bad relationship with a friend, lover or family member that is 80% toxic but 20%….Oh but that 20% is so damn good it keeps you coming back. The wistful sigh of “When I win the lottery I’m going to….” Instead of making a plan and budgeting to make it reality. What illusions have you adopted that now inform the decisions you make and how you engage (or not) with your own life?
For me, the Devil card, much like the Death card, represents an ally. The Devil is that friend with a twinkle of mischief in thier eye (but always has your back) offering sound advice or a warning not to drift into the mist of temptation or disconnection for too long. The Devil smirks knowingly and says “All is not what it seems. Look deeper!”
The Santa Anas tempt me with the sweet whisper “It’s not Winter love...It’s Summer” as it sweeps my hair to the side, kisses down my neck and across my shoulders. Seducing me into throwing my coat back in the closet, exchanging it for the barely-there dress and sandals. I escape back into the feeling of those carefree days of heat and long nights. The winds pull me away from Nature’s call to rest, recharge and recoup in the cycle of Winter.
And as I run towards the crashing waves of the Pacific, the full moon shining on the water, the sand between my toes and the warm wind caressing me, I believe it to be true.
On a gasp, the breath is sucked in then explodes from my lungs... like a punch in the gut. The icy, Winter sea hits me, stripping away all illusion...damn if I don’t hear the Devil chuckle and say “Told you so...”