"The 15th Key of the Tarot represents a goat-headed satyr-like Demon whose legs are hairy—his feet and claws standing upon a Cubical Altar. He has heavy bat-like wings. In his left hand, which points downward, he holds a lighted torch, and in his right, which is elevated, a horn of water. The left hand points downwards to show that it is the infernal and burning, not the celestial and life-giving flame which is kindled in his torch—just as when the Sun is in Capricornus, to which cold and earthy sign this Key corresponds. Solar Light is at its weakest and the natures of cold and moisture triumph over heat and dryness. The cubical Altar represents the universe—right and left of it, bound thereto by a cord attached to a circle which typifies the center of the Earth, are two smaller demons, one male and one female. They hold a cord in their hands. The whole figure shows the gross generative powers of nature on the material plane, and is analogous to the Pan of the Greeks and the Egyptian Goat of Mendes (the symbol of Khem). In certain aspects, the Key represents the brutal forces of nature, which to the unbelieving man only obscures and does not reflect the luminous Continence of God. It also alludes to the sexual powers of natural generation. Thus therefore the Key fitly balances the symbol of Death on the other side of the Tree of Life. Of the smaller demons, one points downwards and one upwards, answering to the positions of the hands of the central figure. Beneath his feet are pentagrams on which he tramples (whence comes their title of Wizard's foot) and his head is covered with the evil and reversed pentagram. As his hands bear the torch and horn—symbols of Fire and Water, so does his form unite the Earth in hairy and bestial aspect, and the Air in his bat-like wings. Thus he represents the gross and materialized Elemental Forces of Nature; and the whole would be an evil symbol, were it not for the Pentagram of Light above his head which regulates and guides his movements. He is the eternal renewer of all the changing forms of Creation in conformity with the Law of the All-powerful One (Blessed be He) which controlling Law is typified by the controlling Pentagram of Light surmounting the Whole. This Key is an emblem of tremendous force; many and universal are its mysteries."
The Magickal Title of this card is The Lord of the Gates of Matter; the Child of the Forces of Time. The path of the Devil runs between Hod, the seat of the intellect and Tiphareth, the center of the Solar consciousness. It is "The Sovereignty and Beauty of Material (and therefore false) Splendor. Sol acting through Capricorn upon Mercury." This card is not to be viewed in Christian terms of evil. The Devil is here represented as the Ruler of manifested form. Capricorn, the Earth sign attributed to this path, is ruled by Saturn (hence Binah). Thus the sign symbolizes both the Higher and the Lower. (As W.B. Yeats' Order name implied, "Demon Est Deus Inversus"—"The Devil is God Inverted.")
The Devil is an illusion, a veil. On this path, one must learn not to take what is seen in the material universe as truth. Our distorted perceptions of the world and what we call "reality" is in fact a blind. The figure of the Devil is rather comical and should provoke us into laughter. The path of the Devil must be traversed before the Initiate can reach Tiphareth, the sphere of the Resurrected One. The Yetziratic Text describes this as the Path of the Renewing Intelligence. Only through the proper understanding of the Devil can one gain new insights and fresh understanding of the Beauty of Tiphareth.
The various parts of the Devil's body suggest the elements of the physical universe; the wings allude to Air, the hairy legs to Earth, the eagle's claws to Water, while the figure holds the torch of Fire. The Fire at his groin suggests the raw sexual power of this path, and he holds the ram horn of Aries (pure martial energy). The Devil stands on the black cubical Altar of the Universe, trampling pentagrams (those who fail to understand this path) underfoot. The symbol of Malkuth forms the ring on which the two smaller demons are tethered. Behind all three figures is a vast horizon of gold and riches, the illusionary goals of mundane existence. The background is indigo, the color of the path of Ayin, the Hebrew letter whose meaning is eye. The Devil has a large third eye in his forehead, symbolic of the fact that inner vision is greater than the sensory vision of two normal eyes. His head is shaped in the form of an inverted pentagram. Above his head is the white Pentagram of Light which guides and regulates him. The rings of Saturn form a halo around the pentagram indicating the influence of Binah, which has been impregnated by Capricorn at the Winter Solstice, marking the return of the Sun.
Interpretation in a Tarot Reading
Materiality. Material Force. Material temptation; sometimes obsession, especially if associated with the Lovers.
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The pathology of the poet says that the undevout astronomer is mad the pathology of the very plain man says that the genius is mad and between these extremes, which stand for ten thousand analogous excesses, the sovereign reason takes the part of a moderator and does what it can. I do not think that there is a pathology of the occult dedications, but about their extravagances no one can question, and it is not less difficult than thankless to act as a moderator regarding them.