As a professional Tarot card reader, I get asked quite often about The Devil card. The question usually comes from someone unfamiliar with the real purpose of Tarot and perhaps tainted by the stereotypes the cards have been given by movies and television. You know- the gypsy women sits there with the scarf around her head, the scary music plays in the background and turns over the Devil card or the Death card. I always tell people that way too much attention is given to this freak known as The Devil. We always have free will and choice to overcome the temptation that comes from this shyster who likes to pervert or twist things for his own wrong agenda. Nothing can illustrate this more than by lining up the Devil card next to The Lovers card as shown above.
The Lovers card depicts love as it should be, in its ultimate expression. The angel appears divinely in a cloud above the mountains and blesses the union of the man and woman. There are comparisons in the artwork to Adam & Eve as we see the woman standing in front of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and the serpent appears in a branch in the tree. The man stands in front of the Tree of Life. Everything about this card is beautiful as the couple comes together in love.
In The Devil card, we see the same two figures, but what's this? Now they're chained and shackled in a state of bondage. The card is all black and they have horns on their heads now and fiery tales. The devil has corrupted them for his own use but if you look closely you'll notice they are not completely bound as all they have to do is slip the chains off their necks. The devil can never completely bind anyone; it's always a personal choice whether to dance at his party.
This card has a minor arcana "kissing cousin," which is the Eight Of Swords and the lady shown on that card has the same easy choice to slip off the knots and walk away from the bondage she is in. When the Devil card shows up in a reading, it quite simply means TEMPTATION is being manifested according to the position in the spread and the subject of the question being asked. Temptation comes in as many flavours as Baskin-Robbins ice cream but it's still ice cream.
The LOVERS also has a minor arcana representation and that card is shown above, the Two of Cups. In fact, the Golden Dawn named this card LOVE. This card shows the cosmic astral energy of the Lovers card as it is manifested in the physical realm here on earth. The two lovers come together now as they face each other. They hold their cups (which always represent emotions) up to each other as if to say, here are my emotions (or HEART) and by coming together in perfect love, I exchange my cup for yours. The caduceus which clearly forms as a result of these two cups joining is a symbol of negotiation in where balanced exchange and reciprocity are recognized as supreme ideals.