Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Major Arcana, Continued- The Devil, The Tower and The Star

These three cards may not seem to go together, at first- but there actually is a lesson contained therein- let's examine each of the three individually, and go from there. First up, the Devil. Regular readers will remember our saturnine friend, and his message. 
This particular Devil card comes to us from the Vertigo Tarot- yes, I lean on that one, but it's one of my favorites. This particular image shows a deck chair, chains, and a fading horned figure. It's interesting to examine the Judeo-Christian story of Lucifer, and this too can help shed some light on the card and its place in the Fool's journey. Lucifer, as you may have heard, got kicked out of Heaven because he decided he could run Heaven better than God. He decided it was time for a regime change at the pearly gates, and a revolution ensued. Old Lou, it seems, lost, and was cast out of Heaven. But let's examine this a little closer. Here we have a guy who couldn't let go. Remember the imagery of the chains? Lucifer couldn't let go of his pride, and wouldn't bow before a god he no longer believed in. Noble? Crazy? Difficult to say. But that's the message of the Devil- here we see the things that we just can't let go of, even if it means we wind up worse for it. The Devil in the Tarot doesn't point so much to Lucifer's convictions (I'll leave it up to you, dear readers, to make your own judgments on his motivations) as it does holding on. It refers to the things in life that we can't let go of- though it may seem we're chained to them, really all that it is is an inability to let go. Do that, and we can move on. So the Devil represents the Fool's (or ours, for that matter) inability to let something go, whatever it may be. 
Now on to the Tower. This one comes to us from the Haindl deck, another perennial favorite, and loaded with symbolism. The Tower is kind of an "oh crap" card, indicating that things are about to come crashing down. This does in fact relate to the Devil card, in that it can be the next step on the path. Here we have the results of self-destructive patterns. Things come crashing down. Now, to step out on a politically incorrect limb, the actual structure seems rather... phallic, doesn't it? Let's put aside empowerment of women and masculine pride for a minute and examine the role of such a symbol. It represents, in its most basic form, the generative and active aspect of creation. What we build up, in other words. The actual tower represents what we build, either literally or metaphorically- relationships, views about the world, a whole life around what we believe to be true. But are those beliefs quite clear? One might argue, when the Devil comes into the picture, not quite. There's often a common image in three cards- The Lovers, The Devil, and on to the Tower- two figures falling. It signifies here that we're sometimes not alone, that the world we built up and imagined can come crashing down, taking us with it. Our assumptions, the principles we build our understanding upon, sometimes are found to be shifting sand, not the bedrock we thought they were.
But is this destruction really all bad? It does mean that what we built is coming down, and that can be a painful experience, and perhaps even hard to recover from. There's another common image in The Tower- and that's showing how the foundation of the Tower remains. A core of truth, those things that endure, remain. Upon this, whatever else we build, we can always return to and start anew. Perhaps it's the realization that the Devil's chains are not as tight as at first they may appear, and there's hope after all. The Tower represents also renovation- perhaps that renovation was a little on the involuntary side, but nonetheless, it tears down falsehood, and perhaps more than that reveals falsehoods, and allows us to replace them with understanding and wisdom. It's not always easy to throw off those chains of the Devil's, but sooner or later we find ourselves in that position.
After all this trouble and tribulation, and tearing down, it seems that this is the polar opposite of the preceding two cards. The Star represents pouring out blessings, and seemingly everything going great! Every decision we make, every path we undertake, seems that it's all roses, a cakewalk. Actually, that's true, but there's another meaning here as well. When we see the Star, it can act as a guiding light- think of a captain of an old wooden ship, navigating by the stars. The stars give him direction and let him know where he is and where he needs to go. Signposts, in other words. This too is a message of the Star. Destruction and tearing down is usually for a purpose- so that the truth, and our higher callings, can be revealed. Again, there's a message of seeing the way. The falsehoods we have constructed fall away, and reveal the path ahead. When we find everything coming up our way, it's a good indication that we're seeing with clear eyes the road ahead of us. All of us are given a purpose in life, though it's not always clear. When we see this card, it's a message that the good we feel is telling us to follow that star- wherever it may lead. It's time to start rebuilding, after the destruction and revelation of the Tower, and the liberation from the Devil's chains. 

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