“Do you think it’s possible to sell your soul to the Devil?” A friend asked me recently.
Wow. That raises so many other questions! Who is the Devil? Is there such a thing as a devil? Who am I, and do I have a soul, and if I do, what would constitute a sale? How would the purchase agreement be set up and who would adjudicate any possible disputes that might arise? And what would the Devil do with my soul anyway? Is collecting souls his hobby (you know, like the Tooth Fairy with teeth)? Moreover, I’m interested in the converse: if I can sell my soul to the Devil, does that mean I can also buy a soul from the Devil? Can I buy the Devil’s own soul? And what would I do with it? What could contain a soul, anyway?
I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that I don’t think a body can contain a soul. I think souls tend to lurk around in the vicinity of our bodies, but, to stay inside all the time? I just don’t see souls being able to be imprisoned like that. I think our souls go on walkabout from time to time. Maybe a lot more often than we think. Do the following words sound familiar to you? “What am I doing in this room? What did I come in here for?”
Okay, maybe that’s not a good example. Maybe our brains go walkabout as well.
The Devil–in a multitude of decks!
Be that as it may. Let’s get to the tarot-related aspect of this question. Who is the Devil? There’s one in every tarot deck!
No matter what deck you use, though, people tend to become concerned when they see The Devil. And I think what’s so disturbing about this card is not that it seems so negative, but that of all the cards in the deck, this is the one that people most commonly think represents an actual person in their lives — and on some level, some people are afraid that they themselves might be, in some sense, the Devil.
Personally, I think it’s time we made peace with the Devil. Look how miserable he is! Poor thing.
Here’s the the thing about this card: it’s not so much a person, as a place. Where does the Devil reside? In Hell. In those moments when you feel that you or someone you know could maybe be the Devil, at least a little bit, consider that those are the moments when the person in question, whomever it might be, is dwelling, at least partially, in Hell. That Hell could be anger, it could be fear, it could be stress of all sorts, but what makes it Hell is not the negativity of the emotion that is connected with it. What makes it Hell is that you feel like you are trapped there for all eternity and it will never ever ever get better. And furthermore, you feel that must deserve it, because who goes to Hell without deserving it? At least, that’s the Christian doctrine that many of us grew up with. So we get stuck in Hell, we think we can’t get out, and we think it’s all pretty much our fault anyway. At that point in time, life basically sucks.
But like so many things in life, Hell is an illusion. No, hear me out on this. The SUFFERING of Hell is NOT an illusion. When you’re in Hell, you do suffer. I would never presume to suggest otherwise. But the whole being trapped there for all eternity and thinking it’s all your fault and feeling like you should, while suffering, be sure to feel guilty as sin about it….that’s an illusion. It’s just not true. Number one, there is a way out. Somewhere. I don’t know where it is, for you. But you sure are not going to find that way out if you’re sitting in a fetal position concentrating as hard as you can on how badly this sucks (like the person in the Gaian Tarot’s Devil — or Bindweed — card). Still, if that’s what you’re doing, you also don’t need judgement from me or anyone. Curling up in a fetal position is not a bad first step. It’s really fine. Maybe that’s the time that you need in which to regroup. Maybe you’re in shock (which can be serious, by the way). So I’m not saying, don’t do the fetal position thing, because that’s fine and it may be just what you need. It may calm you. It may encourage you to breathe. It may become a meditation. It may, truthfully, for you, turn out to be the actual way out — it’s possible.
But if it isn’t. That’s when you might need to work with the situation gently, applying good humor and patience wherever possible. If curling up in a fetal position regenerates your patience and humor, then by all means, repeat as necessary. Nobody said you had a deadline for getting out of Hell. Sheesh, if you’re there, might as well explore the place.
In fact, maybe exploring the place is the thing that you most need. Maybe that’s what you “deserve” — NOT the suffering, not the overall suckiness of the situation, but the chance to learn by exploring areas that are not your favorite destinations. What if even those moments of being “trapped by the Devil” were good for you? What if those moments were necessary (and they are in the sense that all things have a cause, and really a long line of causes going back through beginningless time)? What if your time in Hell was necessary for your overall well-being? How would it affect your outlook if you simply decided to operate on that assumption?
These are questions, and lots of them, and I don’t have answers for you. But if you think you’re the Devil, and you think I’m going to run away screaming from you, think again. I plan to make you a nice cup of tea. And if you think you’re going to get my soul, think again about that too. My soul can’t be contained. Even I can’t lock it up! So I’d say you’re in no danger, ever, of selling your soul to the Devil. I don’t think it can be done. I don’t think the Devil could hold your soul for a nanosecond. I think, truthfully, that your soul goes where it wants. If you’re not in touch with your soul at the moment, don’t blame the Devil, just go find it. Begin the Fool’s journey, even if you have to set out with literally nothing but your faith. Just go.