WHAT THE DEVIL

Come or go? Continue or leave behind? Approach or distance?

We often come across these questions, particularly when we get to see the card of the Charioteer in a reading. The immediate response to this card taken out of context is to say that the Charioteer is all about overcoming a challenge. Within a context, it makes an enormous amount of difference whether we see the Charioteer claiming a victory or whether we see him departing a situation as fast as possible.

In a three-card reading this is easy enough to determine. But in a French Cross, when the middle card sums up the synthesis of the other cards on the table, arrived at by adding the value of these cards, things may not be so easy. We get help here from the pip cards, as this is exactly what they are there for, namely, to tilt the balance and arbitrate for the right interpretation.

Here’s an example: A woman wanted to know what to do about her friend, another woman whom she appreciates and values, but whom she ended up resisting. She told me that she knew the reason, but was wondering as to whether there was more. She didn’t disclose to me what this reason was to begin with, but wanted advice on how to carry it on with her friend without compromising her own integrity.

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Now to the cards. We got the sitter, represented by the World opposing her friend represented by the Lovers. The tension here is clear: openness against ambivalence, or, if we want to be a bit nasty, we could say that the tension is between giving all and receiving double standard. At this point, the sitter exclaimed: ‘That’s exactly it, my friend is double-faced and she likes to meddle in others’ affairs, playing people against each other and not disclosing what she really means about each of them.’ Bad enough.

The advice, The Devil, is an intriguing one, as it calls the sitter to serve her friend the same dish. This card says: ‘Manipulate her.’ Often in situations such as these one is more inclined to say to oneself that such friends are not really worth wasting any time on, but on occasion, cutting others off may not always be a good idea. I thought here of the old saying that claims that there are two reasons why people come into our lives: either to teach us a lesson or for us to teach them a lesson. Fair enough.

The outcome, the Magician, seems to indicate that manipulating the other will either prove to be just the magical solution that’s needed, if this relationship is to continue – as the Charioteer suggests – or that fresh initiatives will be made along the way, with the consequent assertion of independent thought.

Now to the synthesis card: the Charioteer. Given the advice: ‘Do the Devil’, one may think that the Charioteer here clearly suggests: ‘Do the Devil, and exit the scene,’ for indeed who wants to stay in a relationship that requires manipulation? The pip card, however, the 3 of Coins, thwarts this project, and indicates that increasing the partnership is a better idea. So the Charioteer is here to say: let this friendship roll.

Seen from another perspective, one can also say that the World doesn’t need to partner with anybody, least of all a Lover who sticks her nose into too many cauldrons. If the World can’t realize how complete she is, she can try going to Hell, only so that she can start over and realize that she has enough ideas of her own. Double standard and hypocrisy only leads to the scattering of ideas, which is obviously not something that anyone desires. The traditional cartomantic meaning of the 3 of Coins is associated with increase in finances or, indeed with the scattering of ideas (coins or diamonds being associated with fire, the nervous system, and intellect in general). Dissemination can be a good thing, but when dissemination is not the aim, then it merely leads to lack of focus. The inspiring spark is there, but what do you do with it?

The cards speak what they speak. Ultimately it is up to the querent to figure out which strategy works best for her. Some friendships challenge us and rub us the wrong way. Overcoming the challenge may present us with solutions that give us cause to question the premise for the existence of the relationship, but sometimes it can be rewarding to go with the counter-intuitive.

Good luck with your friendships out there. Sometimes you’re not only called to send your friend to hell, but to go there with her.

§

Note on the deck:

Tarot de Marseille, Jean Dodal 1701, reconstructed by Jean-Claude Flornoy.

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2 Comments

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  1. Nice Camelia!

    My take is based on the geometrics of the spread as 4 of the 6 cards presented here have a triadic structure. I would take this as an energy of interference coming into the relationship between the two friends from elsewhere.

    The World and the Magician cards are influenced by the 4 or the square. If the Q. is to remain friends with this person, they have to be “square with each another.” Their issues must be “placed on the table”. The wreath of the World (01) and the straight line of the standing Magician (1) speak to the Querent having boundaries between her worldly pursuits with her personal environment. The hat of the Magician (8) signs the law of reciprocating energy which will bring the change she seeks or “what goes around comes around”.

    • Excellent point, Joeanne. Thanks. Having to square with one another is exactly it. Yet this requires some inventiveness in order to avoid a plain confrontation. And yes, ultimately the World and the Magician, the last card and the first card in the trump suit do complete the circle, and it looks like this circle emphasizes that the querent actually already knows what there is to know. I kind of enjoyed seeing these cards today, as it’s not so often that you get such very explicit, subtle messages.

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