I begin Blue Prometheus with an intuitive tarot reading by Lucy Thomson. The devil tarot is the second card Lucy draws when reading for Thomas—showing the obstacle he faces.
This card represents one of Thomas’s main problems in the story—his attachment to an overly rationalistic view of the universe. He cannot accept the existence of intuition, let alone magic. His chains to the physical world, and to his materialistic belief systems (illustrated by the chains to the devil in the images below) limit his power. When he reaches the planet of Prometheus, his lack of belief becomes a problem. His challenge is to throw off his invisible chains.
Below, you can read an explanation of the traditional meanings for this tarot card.
The Devil Tarot Card—Rider Waite Deck
This is not the card you may want to see in your tarot reading, but one that represents a very human condition. This card is about the chains to the physical world, our emotions and ideas. And to the past we still carry around with us—or baggage.
The image is of a horned, winged devil, crouched on a metal frame. Attached to the frame by chains are two naked humans: a female and male. They’re in a dark place and the devil holds a firebrand. The devil is half human, but the lower half is goat, representing the more animal part of humanity: lust, greed, jealously for example.
The goat could also represent a scapegoat. The all too human habit of blaming others, or situations, for our problems, which is another trap to avoid.
This card represents limitations and attachments, chains to the material world, or ideas which prevent you from moving forward. The attachment could be to ideas which do not serve you well, or to emotional pain from the past which needs to be jettisoned. The baggage or stuff that most people carry around with them, which can chain them to the past. It’s often been observed that the chains around the two human figures in the devil tarot are loose. They could be removed. This indicates the bondage was chosen, and it could just as well be rejected.
Incidentally, the number of the devil tarot is 15. This reduces to 6 (1+5=6). Six is the number of the lovers tarot card, which is not only, or mostly, about love, but about choices. Here the choice could be whether to remain stuck.
Many people are trapped in jobs they don’t like, in relationships which are not fulfilling, or worse. Or they may be over attached to the material world: food, drink, drugs, possessions, looks and more. Obsessive behaviour is another form of attachment, as is the acceptance of situations that are not in your interest to accept. But the chains are loose; you can throw them off.
It also represents any chains to ideas, emotions, hurts and slights that you’ve held dearly for a long time, attachments to people that are no longer right for you, or to ideas and philosophies that limit you. All of these attachments can be broken. Others have done so, and so can you.
Throwing off the bonds might mean quitting your job or breaking up with your partner, but it could just as well mean making changes to the way you approach your job, or to your relationship which might result in something more positive. Having the devil tarot appear in a reading does not mean you should just ditch your partner or quit your job. It might, but it might also mean adapting your thoughts or changing the situation for the better.
Of course, the card can appear at different positions in a reading, but the basic meaning of the card is the same. And it’s interpretation needs to reflect this.
The good part of having this in a reading is that it can make you more aware of these chains, and the need to deal with them - usually snap them.
Read books by Ned Marcus to find out more. And when Blue Prometheus is released this November, you can discover whether Thomas succeeds in beating the devil :)
You can also read more articles by Ned Marcus here.