All three Paths on the Tree of Life are leading to Tipheret – beauty, Higher Self. However, the method of getting to Tipheret depends on their Sephirah of origin.
TEMPERANCE is a path coming out of Yesod – Foundation. Therefore, to travel that path, we must understand the balance within our Selves. DEATH comes out of Netzach, Victory. And, therefore, like a true victor, a true hero, we must sacrifice our perception of the physical world to die and be reborn: to understand true reality.
OUT OF SPENDOR
THE DEVIL, however, is bursting out of Hod, Splendor. And, oh, how splendid (cheesy pun intended) it must be to revel in it. So why would you want to leave a perfectly comfortable and beautiful Sephirah for a promise of another comfortable and beautiful Sephirah?
Furthermore, THE DEVIL is ruled by the sign of Capricorn. Capricorn is governed by Saturn, a planet of limitations. Remember also, that Saturn rules The Sephirah Binah, The Great Mother, which gives us form – therefore, limitations of time and matter (our perception of reality). And so, The Devil exemplifies our erroneous awareness of reality: our acceptance of the material and/or physical circumstances as real.
Another clue to the Path of THE DEVIL is illustrated by its connection with the Hebrew Letter Ayin, which means ‘Eye.’ Eye signifies our acceptance of this false reality, but also ‘opening of the eye’ – or third eye – to understand what is real and what is an illusion. To assume that what our physical eye sees is reality is confining -binding. And, thus, we must open our third eye to escape that bondage.
Whereas Netzach, a Sephirah that is the origination of TEMPERANCE, usually embodies instincts and feelings (see Jung’s Four Egos), Hod, the opposite Sephirah, and the origination point for THE DEVIL, symbolizes the contrast of that: intellect. And so, the process of leaving that Sephirah and moving up toward Tipheret, means that the process must begin with us having to leave behind intellect, to move up toward Intuition. THAT, for most of us, is a nearly impossible task!
In tune with the Trilogy of TEMPERANCE, DEATH and THE DEVIL, you will recognize THE DEVIL’s wings in this card as those of the same angel. His ram’s horns invoke its astrological sign: Capricorn. The eye of Horus in the middle of his face (Ayin) means that the lesson of this card’s path is a reorganization of perspective: a new vision of things.
The Angel is squatting on a rectangular block of stone – a half cube. The half-cube is one-half of the truth. This is the believe that only matter exists, and there is no spiritual dimension to life. Between his legs is an outer image of the planet earth – our attachment; our bondage. Not only is earth transparent, it is hanging from the Devil’s hand by a chain, that is, likewise – transparent – demonstrating that it is not, in fact a real bind.
Inside the image is the FOOL/WORLD/HANGED MAN. His eyes are closed. He feels trapped inside this world (material reality) because he won’t open his eyes and see that it is just an illusion. He is crouching in fear; what our intellect cannot understand, it fears.
The background is red-brown, representing the chaos of Mars (which is exalted in Capricorn) with the constellation of Capricorn in the background.
In a Tarot Reading, DEATH can represent one or more of the following:
- Aspects of ourselves which we are afraid of, and/or wish to hide
- Feeling restricted/ imprisoned
- Inability to break free