This key is one of the most misunderstood images in Tarot. Other than the Death key, this is the key that most frightens querents when it appears in a reading. The Devil Key actually has a strong and positive message for us. While there are no “evil” keys in Tarot, The Devil is a reminder to us that negative forces DO exist, and that we need to live our lives in the Light. His hand is raised in the sign of black magic and in his palm is the sign of Saturn, the planet of inertia. These are a reminder to us to always move forward into the Light and positive thought.
Probably most often misinterpreted is the inverted pentagram above The Devil’s head. Pointed upward, the pentagram is the sign of Paganism, just as a cross is the symbol of Christianity. In Paganism, the five-pointed star has many meanings, but most often is associated with the elements of Fire, Air, Earth, Water and Spirit. In the case of this Key, its position represents the misuse of our connection to nature.
The Devil’s goat head and horns come to us from the Christian traditions that tried very hard to eliminate Pagan beliefs throughout history. The goat-headed devil (with horns) was the Christian way of overshadowing the Greek god Pan, the god of the woods, music, dance and revelry. Ironically, the Devil’s horns and their representation of plenty live on today on many American Thanksgiving tables in the form of the cornucopia!
The man and woman chained to the cube of half-knowledge (only that which is visible) represent our bondage to the material, to the turning away from Spirit. For me, the most important aspect of the message of this Key is this:
We choose our own chains in our lives, and we ALWAYS have the choice to release ourselves from that bondage, just as the figures in this Key could easily lift off their chains.