Thursday 12 January 2017

The Devil in Margarete Petersen’s tarot

The Devil (trimmed):© Margarete Petersen Tarot
Margarete Petersen’s Devil is, with Magic, my co-favourite card of the Majors.  A world away from the RWS crouching demon, for sure. I see a multi-faceted jewel, a diamond perhaps, with figures trapped within facets. The face of ‘the Devil’ is also present, at the tip of the jewel. 
Try as I might, I can't see a goat in there! (This card is linked to Capricorn, astrologically.)
Although the facets contain figures, they also represent the ability to shift perspective, I think – like looking at a prism from different angles and seeing the changes in the refracted colours/light. Not unlike the Capricorn goat, having to change direction and find new paths in order to pick his way around the obstacles that lie between him and the top of the mountain.  
The jewel sits in a sea of red ‘waves’ of fire – the passions, desires, that consume us.  MP writes of the “confusion in the passionate flame” – the figures are all topsy-turvy in their quest.  She also writes “In the sharpened vision at the point of brilliance, /New perspectives open”, which sums it all up for me!
I don’t see a right hand raised in benediction here, as in more traditional versions, but I do think there’s a link between the Devil and Hierophant in terms of meaning. One is about working out what to take from the ‘structure’ imposed by culture/society, the other is about working out how not to be enslaved by the trappings of that culture/society.  Ridiculing? Yes, perhaps – the Devil laughs at how easily we fall prey to what we think we need, thanks to the consumerism (and I don’t just mean material) of our society.  No smirking goat in this image but just think of the Thoth's version of The Devil!
Enslaved by desire
Yet unchained, free to escape
Fear and confusion.

Margarete Petersen Tarot, AGM-URANIA, 2004. 

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