hello, friends. in a few days the sun moves from the mutable fire of curious, philosophical sagittarius into the cardinal earth of disciplined, ambitious capricorn. i’ll have a new batch of tarotscopes for you up on autostraddle, digging deeper into the archetype of the devil and the lessons that this figure has for us. but to help you prepare, to understand what happens in the midst of this complicated shift, today we’re going to take a few moments to dig into the magic between these two archetypes. how do we go from intentional balance to a loss of control? what happens between these two wildly different cards?
buckle up, friends. the devil is a fun one.
from temperance to the devil
after the inevitable ending that we moved through with scorpio, sagittarius and temperance ask us to recalibrate - to evaluate what is really important, to embrace the seemingly contradictory parts of ourselves, to explore the ideas and places and longings that have been building up within us. in the wake of death, we find new life, shaking off the darkness and moving towards the flames.
but of course, it’s not always that easy, and finding balance is not something that can be accomplished overnight. sometimes when we push too hard to embrace change, when we prioritize our own desires too heavily and lose sight of the other pieces of ourselves, we can get caught up in chasing after those longings, can abandon important people or values in our quest to find satisfaction and victory. we can end up making choices that slowly nudge us back off balance, leave us scrambling for control.
putting ourselves first is not inherently a bad thing. understanding what you want, what you need, what are you working towards, the life you are trying to create and the legacies you hope to leave behind - these are important, powerful parts of being human. and with temperance, we begin this process of understanding ourselves, moving gently and intentionally, finding the pieces of ourselves that we have lost and rediscovered along the way. the devil is what happens when we get so wrapped up in a particular kind of success or vision, when we get so obsessed with ambition or conquest or power that we let things get out of balance. that pursuit of glory, whatever it looks like, consumes us - often in ways we barely notice or acknowledge until they have taken over, influenced our choices and movements in ways we then have to unpack and consider. the devil is subtle, quiet, creeping into the cracks and sneaking around corners, slowly infiltrating until we look around and see that we have undergone significant shifts without even realizing it.
this isn’t to say that the devil is always bad - sometimes we get so consumed with control, so focused on accomplishments and achievements, that we forget how to play, to seek pleasure, to acknowledge our cravings. sometimes when the devil pops up, it’s a reminder that you may be getting lost in your control, and that it’s time to loosen your grip and let yourself have a little fun. but generally, when we work with this archetype it’s a reminder to pay attention, to see what we’re gripping with all of our might, to pay attention to what has been slowly changing within and around us. what do you refuse to let go of? what has become your focus? what are you afraid to say no to?
for many people, the devil is a scary enough figure on its own - but for others, part of the fear connected to this archetype is because of what comes next in the major arcana. the devil is the prelude to the tower, bringing internal trembling and gut checks, awakening the knowledge that something powerful is building that cannot be altered or avoided. as we shift from temperance to the devil, we get a glimpse of what is around the next corner, which cracks are widening, the things that are threatening our very foundation.
if we are wise enough and humble enough to honor the lessons of the devil, we can sometimes be ready for the destruction of the tower, even anticipate its coming and work with its energies. if we’re very lucky, we can celebrate it, use it to our advantage, actively break something apart or leave it behind of our own free will instead of waiting for it to shatter at an inopportune moment. but many times, the devil trips us up because we don’t see its power. we believe we are in control of the situation, when in fact we are caught in a tangled mess, repeating old cycles and getting lost in destructive behaviors.
what are you afraid of losing, and why? what do you struggle to leave behind? when you think about the ways you make decisions and choices, what guides those movements? as we prepare for this shift into capricorn season, take time for reflection, to consider the places that you are clinging tightly to control and the places where you may need to exercise more authority over yourself. what has been taking over? and what subtle changes have been occurring, that may be causing larger shifts than you realize?
images from this post feature cards from the 8th house tarot. all photographs by meg jones wall.