The Devil You Know

“Better the Devil you know, than the devil you don’t…”


In the occult traditions the Black  Jackal Anubis  is messenger and psychopomp, a leader of souls into the Afterlife or the Underworld.  In terms of human traits the Dog  is the symbol of  loyalty and denotes a follower. The paramount follower in terms of occult anatomy is the human shadow. Neither of these concepts are themes of the Devil.

The Fox is a traditional lenormand symbol of the Devil primarily in  German card lore. Its color is usually red. It wears a mask. It is used in the Protestant biased  culture to represent that which is wrong or false.

However, one must set folklore to the side and look at the Greco-Roman influences on culture and religion also.  The Snake symbol was the totem of the  Pythia, the Elder female oracles in Greece who were descendants of the matriarchal lineages  of ancient African Python divination cults.  The Snake was a Holy Icon represented in spite of its linear shape  as feminine wisdom  in a female mystery system.

At the point in time when “femaleness” became intolerable to the Church of Rome,  the falseness of the Red Fox or the Old Devil was upgraded to cunning by the Patriarchs and the whispered wisdom of the old eared Serpent demoted to evil, along with the female gender as a whole.

The clergy  whether Catholic or Protestant prefers to promote the symbology of the  right facing domesticated Dog to represent the outward role of the male clergy  to the masses as that of a protective benign guide, while denying  the roots of the Dog  symbol as an update to the  Jackal-  a predatory scavenger!

The Fox’s shift from a symbol of falsehood or lies to a representative of quickness of mind and cunning by the Patriarchs was done because they admired and themselves used intelligence and trickery to gain,  hold, and control  power.

Thus, in the French and Belgium schools of Lenormand  where the Catholic Church’s influence held sway, the role of the Fox is modified and toned down while the Serpent becomes the predominant demonic indicator

In Germany, where a Protestant state of mind ruled, their Devil remained filed under the details of the Red Fox as the Serpent retained the maternal qualities and wisdom attributed to Mothers and other older and wiser women.

The Fox and Serpent cards are double cards in the traditional lenormand style deck. This means they have values associated with their directions, i.e. pairs made on the left side are inauspicious while pairings on the right side of the same card are auspicious or benign.

Note in the traditional Blue Owl deck example shown above both Fox and Serpent face left as does the female Querent card.  Facing left in cartomantic language is a way of denoting feminine energy and traits, which in a male dominant hierarchy are by their very nature- rebuked.

New students of the lenormand method at the beginning stages do not learn direction when reading the cards. They also in general do not take into account the doubleness of the signs.  The beginner who is self-taught from a variety of books will also tend to mix information from the various European cardlore  in their attempts to find core meanings for single cards. These factors may account for meanings which have bled into one another and blurred in both the Fox and the Serpent cards in terms of their linking to negativity, evil or the “Devil” and by extension their association with femaleness.

Along with the rediscovery of Lenormand in the States came artists who drew the lenormand symbols with no prior knowledge of the traditions the cards emerged from based solely on a superficial overview. This makes the choice of  a proper learning deck crucial for the serious student of Cartomancy.

Better the Devil you know….

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