The Devil Part 2

left to right:          John Starr Cooke, Eliphas Levi, Aleister Crowley/ Harris


The center image of Baphomet by Eliphas Levi from his Transcendental Magic book may be the source of the modern Hermetic versions of  the Devil Card.

Let us read the symbols.

Crowley turns the goat’s head into a whole goat in his Book of Thoth.   The term “scapegoat” is associative  as the goat was the preferred substitute for a human offering in pagan rites. The goat was used to purge sin and pacify the Gods. Human blood and goat’s blood were interchangeable substitutes.  Levi shows Baphomet with female breasts. Why? In the desert  human milk and goat’s milk could both be used in the feeding of newborns.

Crowley shows twisted horns on his goat and the minions are actually testicles or balls. This of course is a protest against Crowley’s own Victorian upbringing and religious teachings. He brandishes sex much like a rebellious teen in the card imagery. The Crowley devil is “old horny”. The direction of its  energy is that of sperm release and or reproductive sex. Crowley’s goat has no breasts, no wings, only balls which by the way are removed in a sacrificial rite.

John Starr Cooke was an admirer of Crowley and corresponded with him. His channeled text and subsequent images created from the entities descriptions are for the current Aquarian Age and break away from traditional Western teachings. No numbers are on his cards. Cooke’s Devil is renamed Thinker and his energy is in his head. He seems paralyzed sitting up in the top of a Tree. He is not interested enough in sex  ( the minions are here a male and a female) to come down nor does the promise of the juicy red apple of immortality offered by the Serpent seem to tempt him.

The Thinker is in a dazed trance like state. Cooke says the meaning of the card is error. Thus, the Thinker makes an intellectual error in his logical or philosophic understanding which keeps him chained and bound, trapped up in that tree unable to act. This image can also be connected to the existence  of A.I. and the possibility of machine or computational errors.

The midsection of Levi’s Baphomet is covered. This is the same section where the old Marseilles decks show a smiling face on the stomach of the Devil, an inside energy which seems to be aware and sentient on its own!  A chilling thought which may imply some sort of semi-permanent or perpetual possession.

The symbol of fire is the energy of life-force as fuel being expended or consumed as we occupy physical vehicles in time and space. Levi’s Baphomet has energy spouting out plume like from the top of his head. Cooke’s Thinker is encased in a ball of flames in his tree. Oddly, Crowley’s Devil shows no trace of fire.

In the traditional TdM decks the Devil has two torches one for each “claw” A torch raised above (mental realms) and another pointed below ( earthly elements) showing how the life-force is divided by one’s thinking and acting.

So the Devil of the Tarot is not the same as what is spoken of  as the Devil in religious books but is more a MAGICAL amalgam, an image made up of symbolic parts to convey a message about an extant energy or current. Each lodge or school would construct their Devil with the symbols they wanted to transmit to the next generation of initiates and add to the collective human subconscious.

Remember, there is more to Tarot than divination. At another level Tarot is itself a mnemonic, a prompt and each major arcana or trump a chapter in a living grimoire.