The Devil Tarot Card Meaning and Art Court de Gebelin Trumps
About the Deck
Drawn by Court de Gebelin in attempt to show that the Tarot was Egyptian in origin, these cards represent the height of circular logic. They are far more eighteenth-century than they are Egyptian, and in any case they are basically a reproduction of the far older Marseilles pattern tarot deck, with some ideological changes to help him prove his own point.
Court de Gebelin. France, 1781.
According to Many Schools of Thought
The Devil. In the eighteenth century this card seems to have been rather a symbol of merely animal impudicity. Except for a fantastic head-dress, the chief figure is entirely naked; it has bat-like wings, and the hands and feet are represented by the claws of a bird. In the right hand there is a sceptre terminating in a sign which has been thought to represent fire. The figure as a whole is not particularly evil; it has no tail, and the commentators who have said that the claws are those of a harpy have spoken at random. There is no better ground for the alternative suggestion that they are eagle's claws. Attached, by a cord depending from their collars, to the pedestal on which the figure is mounted, are two small demons, presumably male and female. These are tailed, but not winged. Since 1856 the influence of Eliphas Levi and his doctrine of occultism has changed the face of this card, and it now appears as a pseudo-Baphometic figure with the head of a goat and a great torch between the horns; it is seated instead of erect, and in place of the generative organs there is the Hermetic caduceus. In Le Tarot Divinatoire of Papus the small demons are replaced by naked human beings, male and female who are yoked only to each other. The author may be felicitated on this improved symbolism.
Fatality for Good
Fatality for Evil.
Immense Force. Illness.