it lives in you

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Intro Image: The Devil - it lives in you

Tarot Alley uses the Rider Waite type of deck for our meanings, symbols, interpretations, etc.

The Devil represents oppression and complicity.

The Devil is not about external oppression or complicity – we’ll leave that to the Emperor and a few other cards – the Devil is about internal oppression and complicity. It’s a card about confronting the Devil inside yourself.

Oppression and complicity are complicated subjects that go together like peanut butter and jelly – both can exist independently but together they’re something powerful.

Oppression is about what’s holding you down or back. What’s preventing you from being free, stronger, better, happy, etc? Complicity is about how you’re letting it happen. You’re resigned to or accepting of the situation and aren’t trying to change.

It’s easy to ignore your oppression or cover it with layers of instant gratification and materialism. But that’s not going to fix what’s happening inside. It’s not going to bring ultimate satisfaction.  Ultimately, the Devil is you and you are responsible for changing your situation.  

Take a look at the Rider-Waite Devil displayed to the left (or above).

What is your first impression?

Who is the devil? Who are the two figures? What are they doing? Where are they? What does the other imagery say to you?

There’s no right or wrong answer here, just your interpretation.

Astrology: Capricorn
Element: Earth
Numerology: 15 = 1+5=6 (collaboration, cooperation, interaction)

Common Symbols

  • Chains to represent bondage
  • a Devil to represent inner demons
  • a Key to represent freedom
  • Nudity to represent vulnerability

Keywords & Concepts

  • Destruction
  • Bondage
  • Materialism
  • Oppression
  • Complicity
  • Fear
  • Accountability
  • Self-Awareness
  • Excess
  • Internal

the Devil for Personal Growth

Be honest: what habit or attitude holds you back most? You might find that the qualities you most detest in others are, in fact, reflections of your darkest self. Rather than be chained to old attitudes or habits, embrace your shortcomings and strive to make more conscious choices. 

Ask Yourself:

  • What enslaves you? How can you set yourself free?
  • How can you reevaluate the importance you assign to material things?
  • To what extent do your cravings define you?
  • What habit or attitude holds you back the most?
  • Does someone in your situation need to escape the influence of their basest instincts?
  • What all-consuming obsession or passion plays a role in your situation?
  • In your situation, are you being led by your conscience or your cravings?
  • How might a false unity or misrepresented loyalty play a role in your situation?

Interpreting the Devil

When the Devil appears it suggests a deluded sense of depression, negativity, hopelessness, powerlessness, victimization, etc.

When the Devil appears it suggests that you feel a lack of responsibility for your current negative feelings. You think, “it’s not my fault” and “there’s nothing I can do about it.” But you’re wrong. Things are not out of your control.

The Devil represents your complicity in your oppression. Whatever is affecting you negatively, you’re allowing it to do so.

Take the Devil as a kick in the butt to get your shit together.

The Reversed Devil

How you read reversals is a personal choice. You can ignore reversals and read them as if the card is upright (this is what I often choose to do) or you can interpret reversals as variations of what they would mean upright. There are 3 common ways to read reversals: as a negative interpretation, as an opposite interpretation, or as a block on the upright interpretation. Check out How to Read Reversals for more information.

Negative: A negative reversed Devil suggests 

Opposite: An opposite reversed Devil means a deluded sense of amazingness, awesomeness, accomplishment, etc. You’re feeling overly confident which is going to cause some problems down the line if you don’t re-evaluate and become a bit more realistic.

Blocked: A blocked reversed Devil indicates that something is preventing you from taking responsibility for your actions and feelings.

Examples of the Devil

Specific Interpretations

Specific situations are the general interpretation (from above) used for a specific situation (love, career, etc). There is no need to memorize these (or even look them up) if you understand the general interpretation. However, here are some basic interpretations for some specific situations:

Love & Relationships

When it comes to love and relationships, the Devil is a cage and you’re trapped within it.

If you’re in a relationship, the Devil represents feeling a loss of freedom and individuality. But remember, the Devil is you and you have the power to change your situation. On the “this relationship will be okay” side, you and your partner may just need to develop some independent interests and hobbies. On the “maybe get out of this relationship” side, your relationship may be suffering from jealousy, dominance, or abuse (physical or mental).

If you’re single, the Devil suggests you’re not happy being single and (rather desperately) want a relationship. Be careful, dating in this state of mind can lead to reckless sexual decisions and manipulative relationships. You should dig deep and learn to be satisfied with yourself before jumping into a new relationship.


Negative: A negative reversed Devil suggests that you’re trapped in a bad situation. This isn’t just boredom or a slight dissatisfaction but a dangerous situation.

Opposite: An opposite reversed Devil means a new attitude is emerging that will help you make the most of yourself and your relationships.

Blocked: A blocked reversed Devil indicates that something is preventing you from freeing yourself from the cage you feel trapped in.

Professional Life

Are you feeling trapped or stuck? There are always options because you control your life. Don’t let the Devil allow you to blame outside forces for your dissatisfaction, do something about it.


Negative: A negative reversed Devil suggests that you’re engaging in risky behaviours that are negatively impacting your professional life (perhaps by keeping you stuck in a job you hate) such as gambling or excessive shopping.

Opposite: An opposite reversed Devil means that you’re motivated to take responsibility for your professional life. Now is the time to take some small risks that can further enhance your professional life.

Blocked: A blocked reversed Devil indicates that something is preventing you from fixing your professional life. Look for the root cause and fix it so that you can start taking steps to improve your professional life.

Health & Wellness

The Devil card often appears to indicate health issues such as addiction, overeating, mental health issues, or undiagnosed illness. 

No card in the Tarot deck can substitute medical advice. If you’ve been feeling unwell (physically or mentally), seek medical advice.


Negative: A negative reversed Devil suggests a breakdown (physical or mental) is imminent because you’ve been ignoring the warning signs for so long.

Opposite: An opposite reversed Devil means you’re giving up some harmful habits and beginning to recover and improve your life.

Blocked: A blocked reversed Devil indicates something is preventing you from seeking treatment or diagnoses.

the Devil Tarot Card Meaning

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The Devil represents the oppression, negativity, etc that lives inside of you. Take the Devil card as a big kick in the butt to get your shit together.

Once you feel comfortable with the Devil tarot card meaning, check out the next card in the tarot deck: XVI – the Tower Tarot Card Meaning.


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