Updated: Jan 11, 2022
"Nothing is more exhausting than endlessly working on 'yourself.' When you offer your whole being fully to love, self-acceptance arises spontaneously." - Tosha Silver
Back in March, I began exploring with you all how the Zodiac and the Tarot are aligned. It has been a pleasure to use the Zodiac's anchor cards to discuss each season.
One topic I haven't touched upon, until today, is numerology and the Tarot. My opinion of numerology is the same as my opinion of astrology. When these symbols add depth and nuance to a lived experience, great. Anything that feels limiting, prescriptive, or predictive - forget it.
In Tarot, when we discuss birth cards and the "Card of the Year", we connect the numbers of the year, 2022, by adding them. 2+2+0+2 = 6. 6 is the number of The Lovers card in the Major Arcana.
When we discuss the card of the year, it is not a prediction or an instruction, but rather a grounding force that can contextualize the spiritual growth we, as a collective, are being invited to.
As a preface to all of my readings, I emphasize that there are no 'good' cards and there are no 'bad' cards. There are a few cards in the deck that I must always reiterate this fact, and The Devil and The Lovers are top of that list. We are all familiar with The Devil, a figure of darkness and evil. It makes sense that some folks with traditional religious beliefs might reject Tarot as a whole based on this card alone. However, I can promise you this card is an ally for your spiritual expansion. It's no accident that we enter into this card and Capricorn season on the darkest day of the year, the Winter Solstice. The image of Capricorn is that of a goat and the image of The Devil is a horned beast.
Atop The Devil's head is an inverted pentacle. He has the wings of a bat and his torch is lighting the tail of the male figure below, a symbol of sexual desire turned destructive. Both human figures are chained, but so loosely that they could easily escape. While they are presumably in a place of hell, their faces and their bodies do not reveal any discomfort.
Whenever The Devil arrives in a reading, and I assure my client that this is not a 'bad' card despite its black imagery, it's welcomed and relieving news. No surprise then, when The Lovers card arrives and I point out that this is not a 'good' card, there is a palpable disappointment!
The Lovers is not, as many people may assume, about romantic love or sex. The Lovers is all about having an embodied soul that can recognize the complete and whole nature of the self. It is a call for self-love as an expression of divine connection. You can see how similar the human figures in The Lovers are to those in The Devil. In The Lovers, the man looks to the woman and the woman looks to the angel Raphael. In The Devil, they look only to each other. This is the key to understanding how these cards are related, and how The Devil can help us unfold into our 2022 year of The Lovers... Since Capricorn season and The Devil will always be the anchor card for December to January, it is always The Devil that we move through into the New Year. That The Devil is card 15, which adds to 6, and 2022 adds to 6, making this a year of The Lovers, is all the more interesting.
When we review our spiritual expansion in the Major Arcana, we see three distinct volumes, the three lines. Line One, cards 1-7, can be summed us as "I Am", cards 8-14 in Line Two can be described as "Who am I?" and Line Three with cards 15-21 shows, "There is no I". We learned in card 13, Death, that it is only the ego that fears death. When the mask of our persona is revealed to be just that, we come to card 14, Temperance. It is here, that we experience the Divine working on our behalf in miraculous ways our ego would not have allowed us to acknowledge before. Line Two closes with this experience of peace and moderation. Entering Line Three with The Devil does not adhere to a linear growth model. Good thing, since our soul's expansion, isn't linear!
As we enter the big work of Line Three, we are called on to liberate ourselves from all of the unconscious patterns that keep us from remembering who we came here to become. Line Three is the work that affirms, your soul's evolution matters. The you that is beyond your thoughts, your actions, your body - matters. If we have done our work in Temperance, we can safely cope with the illusions and desires that The Devil offers to distract us from our true purpose. No wonder then that The Devil shows up with every item in its arsenal to pull us away from this expansion and back to the familiar. If we look at the three lines vertically, we see the evolution in the first card of each line. Line One begins with the Magician and Line Two begins with Strength. We see the infinity symbol ∞ above both The Magician and the maiden in Strength.
When we open Line Three with The Devil, we see that the ∞ symbol has been replaced with an inverted pentacle. With the ∞ symbol, there is a reminder that the interchange of energy from the Divine to you is an everlasting closed loop. There is no beginning, no end, no loss, no finish, only spirit, and connectivity. In contrast to the ∞ symbol, the reversed pentacle above The Devil's head represents a deliberate rejection of the Divine. An upright pentacle mirrors the five points on the body, with the head at the top, an image of 'right thinking' in concert with the Divine. The reversal demonstrates a belief in the illusion that nothing exists beyond the world of the senses. Like the Magician, The Devil points one hand up and one hand down, but the Magician points his wand to heaven, bringing spiritual connection down and out, while The Devil's torch points to earth, embracing the material world as the complete and only truth. The Devil is the voice that says, "There is nothing more to your life than your material existence" and in so doing, places an illusory ceiling above any further spiritual growth. In order to understand the lesson of Line Three, "There is no I", The Devil offers up all the stories and fears that obstinately scream, "There is only I!"
One of the easiest ways to talk practically about the work we do in The Devil is through addiction and recovery, though addiction itself is not the message from this card. Most often we think of addiction in relation to substances like cigarettes, alcohol, and other drugs. More recently, we've expanded our understanding of addiction to include behaviors like sex, gambling, pornography, eating, or working. While not everyone has experienced one of these addictions first-hand, I think that almost everyone can admit compulsive and dependant behaviors around screens and technology. For the purposes of our spiritual expansions, which is the purpose of this lifetime, it doesn't matter what desire or substance has us hooked. The fundamental truth is that when we are in the midst of spiritual expansion, we are scaring the brain into waking up. In Temperance, we see that there are spiritual solutions to our material problems. To borrow from the recovery language in 12-Step programs, "We came to believe a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity." The "logical" result of this awakening would be to trust that the Divine has your back, but the thinking mind and the ego HATE releasing control. Growth in the unknown is perceived as unsafe, and so what happens? Our brains will go into the vault and release whatever old stories to snap us back into the perceived safety of the familiar, and out of expansion. That is what addiction is at its core. There are of course biochemical components to any addiction, including behavioral addictions; however, beneath the behavior or the substance that we can identify as the hook, there is an impulse to stay asleep.
So how can we use the experience of "checking out" via addiction to launch us both into the work of the Third Line of the Majors as well as 2022 and The Lovers? As I mentioned at the top, where the human figures in each card are looking is the key. In The Lovers, the male figure is looking to the female figure and the female figure is looking to the angel. In The Devil, the male figure looks at the female and she looks back. They don't even acknowledge the presence of the beast. It's worth mentioning that none of the figures in the Tarot are gendered. No matter your gender or pronoun, we all contain masculine and feminine energies. We also possess access to the angelic and the Devil-like critic. In The Lovers, our masculine force looks to be informed by our feminine force and our femininity looks to be enlightened by our Divine connection. Conversely, The Devil blocks our connection to the Divine with creative and compelling stories that say we are in control and that powerlessness is the worst possibility. In John Milton's Paradise Lost, the Devil is quoted to say, "Better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven" which sounds a lot like the voice of addiction, limitation, and fear. To give an example, I gave a reading to a bride-to-be and The Devil card came up. No surprise, she was concerned! The message that card brought for her specifically was that even if she could 'reign' over the ceremony and celebration, even if every single detail went exactly the way she planned and imagined it, the wedding would still only be as good as she could imagine. When we allow our masculine and feminine energies to work together in the service of our highest and best, we open the door for expansion, love, and surprises greater than our imaginations.
I would be remiss if I didn't emphasize that The Lovers is not a card about getting married or finding romance or a partner. This card isn't about any other person, though other people may illuminate the work we need to do here. The Lovers is a mirror that reflects back any place that we have forgotten that we are whole. When we find ourselves thinking, "If I only can get this job", or, "I will be able to relax and trust my partner will not abandon me as soon as we are married", those are the signposts that we are being called into The Lovers work. By the time we are at The Devil, those same invitations for self-love become riotous demands. Thoughts can amplify to, "I need to smoke/drink/use to get through this event" or, "I can never be happy without money". The most obvious progression of The Lovers' work into The Devil is a scenario where we fall in love and begin to believe that that other person is love, when in fact, it is some beautiful part of ourselves that we enjoy when we are around them.
So, as we begin this new year, I want to invite you to consider a few questions: 1) In what ways am I expanding spiritually? 2) What behaviors of avoidance are tipping me off to the fact that my brain is uncomfortable with trusting this unknown and the Divine? 3) How do I feel after I engage in these behaviors? 4) What is my belief around this expansion? 5) Is it true? 6) What would my personal angel know to be in my highest and best?
As you bravely consider all of this, know that an entire year anchored in self-love is available, not just to you but also to the collective.
I am really looking forward to continuing this exploration of The Lovers and supporting you however I can along the way. I am sending you love and kindness this January!