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The Devil from the Tarot de Paris
The Devil from the Tarot des Mages

History and Iconography

Early representations

In the earliest known list of the Trumps (Sermones de Ludo Cum Aliis), this card is called El Diavolo (The Devil). In the Visconti-Sforza Tarot, it is the first of the Trumps that hasn’t been preserved. Since none of the other Visconti decks show a trace of the card either, some believe The Devil was never part of these decks to begin with.

The Rosenwald Sheet depicts the devil as a guy with horns and clawed feet, wearing some sort of animal skin (or perhaps just being particularly hairy). He holds a trident with both hands, but actually looks more amiable than frightening. The devil on the Cary Sheet, however, is portrayed as a cruel, horned creature. He is shown piercing the body of a nude, writhing human with his trident, and has collected a few others in a basket he carries on his back.

In the Tarot de Marseille, Le Diable (The Devil) is pictured as a being with antlers, the wings of a bat and clawed feet, and with breasts as well as a penis. In his left hand he often holds the blade of a sword or possibly a torch, while he is shown standing on some sort of pedestal or anvil. In some decks he has a face on his belly and eyes on his knees, and is cross-eyed to show his distorted vision. On either side of him stands a minion that looks human, but has antlers and a tail and is tied to the pedestal with a rope.

20th-century representations

The Devil in the Waite-Smith Tarot is one of the darkest cards in the deck because of its pitch-black background. It depicts a huge, sinister devil with curved horns and large bat-wings, perched on a narrow pedestal with a reversed pentagram on his head. The glyph of Saturn is carved in the palm of his raised right hand, while he holds an inverted torch in his left. A nude man and woman are bound to the pedestal by loosely fitting chains, of which they could easily free themselves if they wanted to. Both are horned; the tail of the man ends in fire, while that of the woman ends in fruit.

Some modern (often New Age) decks find the concept of a devil too Christian for their tastes and replace the card with, for example, divinities such as Pan or Cernunnos. The Robin Wood Tarot depicts a man and woman bound to a chest with riches, pulling in different directions and unable to let go because of their greed.

Suggested Divinatory Meanings

The Devil indicates any sort of addiction or obsession, something with which we can tend to get "carried away", to the point of losing control over our actions. It signifies sexual desires, uncontrolled energy, running amok. The New Orleans Voodoo Tarot [1] associates this card with the idea of the "wild ride" or "hoard".

The Devil may also represent the 'other' appearing as one's own 'Shadow' (Jung), i.e. repressed negative side, more readily perceived in others than ourselves. In relationships (or coupled with a court card), it may show unhealthy co-dependency, a situation better avoided.


These are not accepted outside of those who follow such attributions


Golden Dawn oriented (and derivatives)

Numeral : XV; 15


  • Astrology
    • Type : Zodiac
    • Name : Capricorn
    • Symbol : ♑
    • Element : (Earth)
  • Alchemy
    • Type : Process
    • Name : Fermentation
  • Colour : Blue-Violet
  • Yetziratic Intelligence (Golden Dawn Version): Renewing Intelligence
  • Musical Note (Paul Case Version): A Natural
  • Cube of Space position : West-Below
  • Tree of Life position : (6,8) (Tiphereth, Hod)
    • Interpretations :
      • Beauty of Glory
      • Glory of Beauty

In other languages

  • Dutch: Duivel
  • French: Le Diable
  • German: Der Teufel
  • Hungarian: Ördög
  • Italian: Il Diavolo
  • Portuguese: O Diabo
  • Spanish: El Diablo