The Devil is the 15th card of the major arcana, coming just before Temperance. In a traditional Rider-Waite deck, the card depicts a half-goat, half-man with vampire bat wings and an upside-down pentagram above its head. Beneath the creature, a man and woman (both naked and with their own tails and sets of horns) are loosely chained to him. The chains, however, are quite loose, indicating that the man and woman could leave if they wanted to.
As tarot reader and founder of Magical Tarot Leah Vanderveldt explains to mbg, the Devil card is like a stand-in for our inner demons. “The things we give our power away to, the voices that keep us small or ashamed—essentially our shadowy parts,” she explains, adding this card often shows up around unhealthy patterns in our lives, be it in relationships, negative or harmful self-talk, and/or issues of addiction.
“The good news is when the Devil comes around, you’re given the opportunity to dance with this energy and liberate yourself from any cycles or dependencies that are keeping you down and afraid,” Vanderveldt says, noting that this card can be an invitation to dive into some shadow work, as well.