The ugly, nagging details.
I’ve never had a very concrete idea of how to apply the message of The Devil, or in the Incidental Tarot’s case, Chimaera, to my own life. It’s a murky sort of card…calling on questions of morality, behavior and choice…the concept of “sin” in the traditional canon of philosophy. Is The Devil a card meant to mirror the sins of an individual, to shine light on the consequences of our selfish actions and desires? Or is it more a card reflecting the moral and ethical challenges of “this mortal coil” we all labor within? I think it’s a bit of both. If The Hanged Man (or Eclipse in the IT) is the door that opens our psyche to our own darkness, then The Devil is a florescent spotlight on our choices and actions…our sins. Individually, and collectively as a people.
I would never consider myself an immoral or sinful person. I strive to live my life with good intentions, to avoid harm and cultivate integrity in all that I say and do. But am I free of “sin”? Hell no, and I know it (pun intended). We all make choices day in and day out that have harmful repercussions in the world around us. Some, more impactful than others. No soul is free to cast stones; that is the nature of incarnation. The Devil is an indicator of how we relate to our own flaws, and how we work through the conflicts that they bring about. It is a frightening card to many people, as it is never comfortable to examine our faults and take responsibility for our sins, no matter how great or small they may be. For some, the facade they present to the world is so strong they cannot even see through their own glamour…and it can ultimately destroy them. Chimaera expresses the illusory nature of this facade: the fact that terrible things often come in shiny, seductive packages. It peels back the layers of artifice we construct around our desires and shows us the often vulgar nature of what it means to be human.
For me, Chimaera’s mirror often shows a wide reflection. I see the broad, devastating vista of evil humanity has committed and how I am inextricably bound to it. The seven deadly sins now come in new and ever-innovative packages. Pride comes in the form of racism and bigotry. Greed comes in the form of hedge funds and oil barons and energy wars. Gluttony comes in mindless consumerism and wasting of resources. Lust comes with exploitative pornography and the culture of rape. Sloth resonates with entitlement, irresponsibility and ignorance. Envy brings about discontent, misery and the shameless pursuit of schadenfreude. And Wrath….Wrath is the most insidious of the sins. It is like a virus carried on the backs of its brethren…infecting each of them with active malice and physical harm. Wrath escalates the other sins, bringing them unceremoniously to the surface and breaking the illusions they hide beneath. In this way, Wrath can actually be a purifying force…bringing the infection to the surface where it can be treated and ultimately healed. That is the flip side of the Devil…the raw truth beneath the lies, the unfolding consciousness that is the first step to healing and wholeness.
So how should we react when Chimaera shows up in a reading? How do we determine its context? For me, it shows that I am in need of the “unflattering mirror.” I also need to remember that I can only control my own thoughts and actions, and that no matter how powerless I may feel on my path or my place in the world, I do have that small power to change myself…to not succumb to the 7 deadly sins as they would manifest in me. I have a tendency to become overwhelmed with the madness of the world, to give in to depression, anxiety and a sense of utter helplessness. I become nihilistic. That is the rock bottom for me, the feeling that there is no hope in the world, that all is meanness and madness and nothing I wish or will can affect it. I allow the Devil’s mirror to strip away my own integrity…and thus give in to the very urges that contribute to the problem. I languish in my purpose, I lash out at those who remind me of how I’ve failed, and I give in to the soulless pleasures that seem, even transiently, to numb the pain of it all.
But all these are illusions…the Madness and the Sins that perpetuate it. We need only remember that the gravest danger lies in the deception itself, the monster beneath the shining facade…and in uncovering it, we have the power to heal.