What does the devil tarot card mean? The importance of the map, explained

When you pull the devil card in a tarot reading, it’s easy to assume the worst. Like the death card, the image on the devil from the traditional Rider-Waite tarot deck looks quite disturbing with a large devil standing behind two chained people. Fortunately, as astrologer and tarologist Clarisse Monahan tells Bustle, there are no “bad” tarot cards despite the reputation of some cards like the Devil. In fact, there are also positive messages in the card, and digging deeper into the meaning of the Devil card will show you that there really is nothing to worry about.

In tarot, the Devil is the 15th major arcana card in the deck. “The Devil is a card of vices and excesses, and he can show us what we can be addicted to no matter what,” says Monahan. The Devil is then followed by the Tower, which can be interpreted as a release from the bonds of the Devil.

“A lot of people gasp when they receive this, but it’s not that bad,” Monahan says. “The Devil card shows us our darkness, but in doing so it also provides the opportunity for a light to shine through. So while this card definitely gives off an intense tone, it can also have positive ramifications. For me, this card always reminds me to focus on integrating dark with light. How can we welcome and embrace the hidden or repressed areas of our psyche instead of hiding them or being ashamed of them?”

One of the best things about tarot is that it’s very personal. There is no right or wrong way to read. Some people will draw a card and choose posts based on the images alone. Learning the general meaning of each tarot card can help you piece together the messages you are meant to receive, especially when you are first starting out. With that, here’s what you need to know about the Devil tarot card.

What does the devil tarot card mean?

Each tarot card has a zodiac counterpart, and the Devil is associated with Capricorn. In astrology, earthy Capricorn is known to be practical, strategic, and determined. They work hard, value safety, and tend to put their career first. For this reason, the Devil tarot card is closely associated with ambition.

“While blind ambition isn’t healthy, ambition in general can be a good thing to cultivate,” Monahan says. “When we receive this card, it is an invitation to think about the direction we want to take in our professional life. Where do we want to be seen? What legacy do we want to leave behind? These are a few questions to consider when getting this card.

The devil is also linked to the tarot lovers card. In fact, Stina Garbis, a professional astrologer and psychic, tells Bustle that they both share the same image, but in the Lovers card there is an angel blessing the couple. In the devil’s card, the lovers are loosely chained while the devil sits behind them.

“The loose chains around their necks can easily be removed, signifying the desire to live with their passions although they can stop at any time,” says Garbis. Often these “passions” are “obsessions” that are hard to break free from, such as sex, money, or a relationship.

What does the devil card mean when straight?

When the Devil tarot card is drawn vertically, it can represent vices, addictive behavior, toxic relationships, and partying. In a love reading, the card can indicate a strong sexual attraction between two people. However, it’s more associated with a physical connection than anything deeper and meaningful, Monahan says. If you ask what someone thinks of you, this card could mean that they are not interested in commitment at the time of your reading.

In a career reading, the Devil could be an invitation to set goals and stick to them. At the same time, it “also warns against unbridled ambition,” Monahan says.

What does the reversed devil’s card mean?

If drawn upside down, the Devil card offers some hope. According to Monahan, it may indicate that you are more in control of your life, your vices, and your addictions. In your career, this could mean that you are more aware of the amount of work you are doing, so you will find more balance in your life. In love, it could indicate turning a casual relationship into something more committed and defined.


Clarisse Monahan, astrologer

Stina Garbis, professional astrologer and medium