the devil [tarot] – transmuting pain into power

i’ve pulled the devil tarot card two days in a row now, which means i must really need its medicine/lessons.

as someone who grew up with an intensely spiritual evangelical mother, i don’t like engaging with imagery (especially in my personal practices) that hearkens back to my christian childhood. so the devil card isn’t my favorite depiction in the tarot.

but similar to life, often that which we avoid and is exactly what we need.

i came across a great blog post that was able to take my relationship with this card deeper, one that goes beyond the guilt and shame associated with being an “impure” human. i’ve done a lot of work letting go of guilt and shame over seeking pleasure, but i still feel vulnerable in it. so anything that feels like it’s telling me to feel bad about myself feels can feel threatening; i’m scared of going back to that place.

what i appreciate about the blog post is that she reframes “destructive” behaviors as reflections of unmet needs.

this makes me think of a recent dear jessamyn episode i was listening to in which Jessamyn muses that in order to truly let something go, you have to come to understand it profoundly. and i felt the author of the blog post was making a similar point — if we want to transmute certain thought patterns or behaviors that don’t serve us, we must first get at the root of them, get to know them.

which reminds me of parts work in the internal family systems model and the way Dick Schwartz claims that even the “worst” parts of ourselves are there for a reason, trying to help us, even if in the most maladaptive ways. “Our parts can sometimes be disruptive or harmful, but once they’re unburdened, they return to their essential goodness.”

so the devil seems to be asking us to step into the shadows (classic work proposed by Carl Jung), and to look, honestly and compassionately, at the parts of ourselves that disgust us or scare us. because their destructiveness is not due to their merely existing but in our choice to hide, ostracize, or “exile” them.

for example, there’s a part of me that i wish were more generous. and so i would start with investigating why it is that i feel uncomfortable giving things away freely. which would be bring me to my scarcity mindset, along with my often literal material scarcity. and to then work out what does that part of me need to feel comforted, to feel good. is it to remind myself that i’m in community, that i can ask for help and lean on others, or do i simply need reassurance that i do have enough and that sharing feeds that sense of abundance.

how old is that part of myself? is it a childhood version of me that grew up in a house always worried about money? what does she need to hear? is it simply that everything is going to be alright, that it’ll all work out? or is it an older part of me that needs more grounded reassurance, like a budget?

our “bad” parts are ultimately about our pain, and the ways our behavior, actions, or choices are reflecting that which we’ve not yet confronted and healed.

first, we must acknowledge, sit with, hold,

and only then can we take aligned action.

muahhhhh. (casual kiss for the masses)

here are some questions i’m holding while i commune with this card:

  • what parts of myself have i hidden, ignored, denied?
  • how is denying of parts of myself reflected in my “bad” behavior?
  • what are the unmet needs of these “exiled” parts?

good luck out there ✌️ ❤️

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