“15” – The Devil: Overcoming Weaknesses, Material Attachments, and Transcending Illusion

In all forms of Esoteric Sciences ideas are communicated in the universal language of Archetypes, numbers, and symbols. We’re given a grand formula as a composite image or idea that must be intuitively interpreted in order for its hidden knowledge to be apprehended. All actual learning takes place through our subconscious where we impregnate ourselves with a seeded idea that gestates and not only unfolds spontaneously in the imagination as a whole idea or process, but continues to unfold over an extended period of time, bringing us deeper and more relevant insights into the same idea. We know we’ve apprehended the knowledge inherent in an idea when we can relate to it in the activities of our everyday life, and when it becomes an inherent part of our outer reality as our “perception”. Once an idea becomes fully integrated into our mental paradigm, it becomes a fundamental part of our material matrix as the substrate that gives rise to it, holds it together in a cohesive manner, and animates it through a form of cosmic relationship.

All Archetypes represent principles that are a natural part of our cosmic consciousness. This archetypal principle, like the pentagram which is a key component of it, is probably one of the most misunderstood and misinterpreted ones there are. This is perhaps due to the fact that the image used to represent it tends to elicit a sense of fear, apprehension, and disgust. This reaction is usually due to how it’s been grossly misinterpreted through Christian allegory. Christians perverted the idea represented by the god “Pan” as being witches that worshiped Nature and stole, sacrificed and ate children. This interpretation was formulated as a means of using fear to control by creating “illusions” that caused “panic”. If we look at each aspect combined to produce this composite image, we can not only gain a better understanding of what it’s showing us about our own nature, but we can also attain the “process” necessary in order to work with it in an intelligent manner. As with all archetypal images we want to look at the general overall composition while also identifying the “Keys” that reveal the laws involved.

The number 15 is represented in the Tarot by the archetype of the “Devil”, which is also the mythological god “Pan”. The basic composition is similar to those of Key 5, 6, 7, 14, and 19, which show a larger figure, usually of a divine nature (angel or priest) overseeing and governing 2 smaller beings that are male and female as a couple. This composition forms a “triangle” and naturally represents the higher-self or mind, working directly through the two aspects of the subconscious (female) and self-conscious (male) that manifest within the lower plane of materialism. In this depiction the divine principle is the “devil” presiding over a couple who are chained to a treasure chest of gold coins. Their chains are loose and can be easily removed, but they either don’t realize they can remove them, or they don’t want to remove them.

Pan-devil, ruled by Capricorn, is shown as half goat and half man, representing our lower, animal nature which is instinctively driven through emotional impulses and primal urges. The goat aspect of this character is the “lower half” that’s below the belly button and governs the lower body of sexuality, union, and reproduction. Only humans have belly buttons, and it signifies man inhabiting an animal body. The devil is symbolized by the Hebrew letter “Ayin”, and the letter “O”. It’s ruled by Saturn in Capricorn, where Mars is exalted. This image is the “polar opposite” of the one shown in Key 14, which it proceeds out of as a natural progression of what’s necessary in order to “change our vibration” as the means of “ascending” in spirit to higher dimensions. 15 lays the foundation for 16 to naturally emerge as a consequence, which represents being liberated from our own self-imposed material bondage.

The “sense” associated with the devil is “sight”, the most important sense of all in perceiving reality, and the one we’re most easily “deceived” by. Through sight we see appearances alone. Forming a visual image produces sensation, and the “eye” is used to represent “sensation” just as the “lion” serves to represent all “subhuman modes of life expression”. When we see appearances only we reside in the limitations of the visible world as a form of ignorance that forms spiritual bondage. Ignorance comes when we accept these limitations as being all there is. The most predominant form of sexual seduction as enticement comes through visual stimulation that causes arousal as heightened sensation. The most basic form of ignorance comes from believing what’s being presented, which forms our limitations and bondage to the world of illusions. When we remain ignorant of our true self we gladly succumb to the limitations being imposed on us by our lower self.

This idea represents indulgences that cause incongruity as weaknesses, character flaws, and shortcomings. The mental state associated with Ayin is “mirth”, which indicates merriment, laughter, and celebrating. It represents that which beguiles us through a state of enchantment. Laughter is a prophylactic and acts to purify the subconscious by dissolving mental complexes and internal conflicts. Laughter is a form of medicine that clears tension from the body caused by repressed emotions.

In the Metatron Cube of Space, 15 is the line at the lowest level as “west-below”, and connects NW (Key 11) with SW (Key 13), and South-below (Key 18) with North-below (Key 9). This provides us with further insight as a formula for understanding the faculties involved and the processes necessary to employ in working intelligently with them. Key 11 = Karma (universal justice); Key 13 = death (transformation); Key 18 = Moon (subconscious); and Key 9 = Completion and perfection. Key 15 also corresponds to Key 2 “below”, and Key 10 “West” as the “center axis” of the cube, representing the soul’s memory (2) as a cycle of creation (10). We’re initially programmed (conditioned) through an unconscious state that lays the groundwork out of which we continue creating ourselves in an unconscious manner throughout our life.

The number “15” gives us a primary formula of the laws involved and is calculated as 1 + 5 = 6. 1 represents focused attention (will), 5 = mind over matter as our connection with our Higher Self, and 6 (Lovers) as the intimate union of the subconscious with the self-conscious orchestrated by our Higher Self (Guardian Angel). The devil is shown with an inverted pentagram over his forehead (third-eye), which symbolizes the higher mind being controlled by the 4 Elements of material reality where it resides on a level that’s subhuman and instinctual. We experience incongruity, a lack of integrity, and internal conflict whenever our self-conscious stands in opposition of our subconscious, and we create in an inconsistent manner controlled by our passions, impulses, and sexual desires (addictions).

Capricorn is a cardinal earthy sign that governs the knees, which we’re brought to in crisis and kneel on to pray. We’re brought to our knees through our sense of bondage and personal insufficiency, and become subservient to our material existence. When we become identified with our personal possessions they act to determine us. All bondage comes from our failure to realize that we are meant to “rule Nature”, rather than being “ruled by it”. This idea represents our attachments to materialism produced by weaknesses and addictive tendencies that shape our morality to be “animal-like” and easily deceived and led astray through pleasure of various kinds. Mars is exalted in Capricorn, symbolized by Key 16, which follows sequentially, represented by the “lightning struck tower”, which destroys the form that holds us captive under the guise of safety and security. It’s our castle, title, and possessions that form our prison and bonds us to the lower planes of spiritual degradation. Whatever we “identify with”, we become one with in spirit and use as the means of creating experiences of ourselves.

 The mode of consciousness assigned to it is “Renewing Intelligence” as regeneration necessary in order to birth ourselves anew from a fully conscious and purified state that results from stepping back into our “identity” as a “divine being”. It’s through incongruities in our character that we unconsciously destroy what we’ve built. An incongruity is something that doesn’t fit and can also bring forth new ideas as adaptations (5). When we find a fact that doesn’t fit with our beliefs, we’re required to revise them to include the new information, upgrading them as a result. Whenever we let go of our attachment to things, we go through a period where we need to make adjustments and develop ourselves in new ways.

The icon of the Devil represents our “adversary” and that which refers to the ideas that relentlessly oppose our struggle for freedom. It’s our lower nature governing and utilizing the power of our higher nature in creating our soul and determining our destiny as a higher soul. It personifies the “serpent power” represented in Teth, Key 8, called “Strength”, which is the higher soul’s ability to tame the serpent power and use it for the motivating force of higher ideals. It’s the serpent of temptation that tempted Eve (subconscious), called Nachash (NchSh), whose letters translate into the numbers N = 50; Ch = 8, Sh = 300, for a total of 358 ( which equals 16 = 7), the same value as MShICh – 40 + 300 + 10 + 8 = 358, meaning the Messiah. This gives us a subtle correspondence of its meaning. It’s through temptation that we recognize our weaknesses, and are able to overcome them using Strength, and redeem ourselves as a result. The Devil is actually an aspect of God that’s usually greatly misunderstood by the ignorant and profane. Jesus, as the Messiah, was born in Capricorn, and both the devil and Christ were referred to as “the morning star”, and are polar opposites of each other.

If we break this formula down further and use the Keys of the Tarot to decipher their meaning, we get N = death, CH = Chariot, Sh = Judgment: and M = Hanged Man, Sh = Judgment, I = Hermit, Ch = Chariot, which equal 358. 3 = Empress, 5 = Hierophant, 8 = Strength. I’ll leave that for you to contemplate further on your own. 15 = 6 > represented by the “Lovers” as the sacred union of the two minds to form a harmonious whole. 15 is the summation of numbers 0 – 5 (1+2+3+4+5 = 15), the basic principles of the mind and its true relationship with matter. The word devil is “lived” spelled backwards and is ascribed to “wisdom” – we only learn by living and doing. All knowledge is obtained only through experience. Through self-realization and reason, we exercise our power of choice and will in transforming weaknesses into strengths.

The background of the scene is black, indicating the darkness of ignorance, limitation, and that which is hidden and resides within. Ignorance is the underlying cause of all bondage. The devil himself is a polar-image of the Angel in 14, which is also the caricature over the heads of the Lovers in Key 6. The man and woman are shown with horns and tail and represent the beast-like figures of the ones shown in the Lovers. The two horns represent a divided mind that’s set apart from and work to oppose each other. When human reasoning is based on surface appearances, we become like beasts, and reside in the darkness of illusion. The chain loops that yoke them (5) can be easily removed; their bondage is imaginary and self-maintained. The first stage of spiritual unfoldment comes as awareness of conscious bondage to material circumstances that personify the false conception that we’re bound by material conditions and the false notion that we’re a slave to necessity as chance.

The devil has bat wings, representing the powers of darkness. He has the face of a goat and ears of a donkey, representing obstinacy and the stubbornness of materialism. One side is masculine and the other feminine, he partakes in the characteristics of both sexes. The inverted pentagram, which is the sign of man, suggests a reversal of man’s understanding of his place in the cosmos. The Elements of materialism govern him. It’s only through a lack of using our divine abilities that we keep ourselves in bondage of ignorance and materialism.

The devils hand has all fingers opened with 2 fingers paired forming the sign of Saturn in the palm of the right hand. Saturn is the planet of limitation and inertia, and therefore ignorance. This symbolizes a failure to evolve to higher levels of self-awareness and keeping ourselves bound to the wheel of karma (10). In his left hand a torch burns downward, only lighting the ground. The torch is a phallic symbol and represents the transmission of life from generation to generation. The fiery quality refers to the active force of Mars. It’s the torch of revolution based on the material interpretation of experience. It’s symbolic of the torch of anarchy and terrorism which rule by fear and ignorance.

The devil has a naval (a human product) with the symbol of Mercury just below it. He is a product of faulty observation and superficial reasoning. His feet are the claws of an eagle, representing Scorpio as the misuse of reproductive power and it’s debasement in the service of sensuality. He sits on a half-cube (symbol of reality), and only sees half of reality, knowledge, and partial truth. He perceives only that which is visible and believes in disguises and false fronts.  

The fact that’s seldom realized is that the forces which appear to be our adversaries are always ready to serve us. It’s only through trial and temptation that we get to see into our own hidden nature. Once we realize our inner potential for freedom from being determined by our material conditions, we can begin taking control of our own urges and ability to create our experiences. When we bring higher spiritual knowledge into daily practice, we put forth the effort necessary to liberate ourselves from bondage that’s purely imaginary. The idea of the devil represents “sensation that’s divorced from true understanding”. He brings renewal, because we seldom make any real effort until we experience limitation. It’s only when limitations bother us that we put forth the effort it takes to overcome them through mental use of will, and we act to remove our own chains.

This represents the material elements that bind us to ignorance by controlling our mind to make us “like” them, and we become a beast instead of a divine being that’s wholesome and pure in character. When we live out of the ignorance of our lower, unconscious self, we indulge in physical pleasure without any regard for the consequences it brings, and we bring those consequences upon ourselves as a result, destroying our life, and becoming one with others that are of the same level of consciousness. In order to cultivate higher consciousness we have to overcome our addictions and the temptation to falter in favor of physical pleasures that destroy our virtuous character. This represents “vices” that directly oppose and prevent “virtues”.

Temperance (14), which precedes this one, represents the process of changing our conscious and chemical makeup by letting go of all behaviors born out of purely physical means that takes precedence over us and literally controls us by working through our lower nature. This represents learning how to use our ability to reason, make moral decisions, and use our will in order to neutralize physical impulses, passions, and cravings. As something appeals to our weaknesses and we indulge in them, we recombine our energies with them and they determine us as a result. Whatever we give into out of ignorance or moral weaknesses, we become one with in mind, body, and spirit. All actions require us to become one with an outside force or idea, and we become the “means through which” it expresses as a reality. As we become the expression of that consciousness by becoming one with it, we’re shaped by it accordingly. We have to let go of our weaknesses and transform our addictions in order to transform our lower self to become a clean vessel morally for our Higher Self to naturally inhabit.

This represents creative energy in its most material form. Capricorn occupies the zenith, the most exalted of the signs, and is symbolized by a goat leaping with lust upon the summits of the Earth. Saturn is symbolic of self-hood and perpetuity. It’s the divine madness of spring that has already been foreseen through the meditative madness of winter. His creative energy is veiled with the symbol of the Highest Initiate crowned with a winged globe and twin serpents of Horus and Osiris. Whatever we choose to become one with we use to shape ourselves and our destiny. By learning how to find ecstasy in every phenomenon, no matter how ordinary, we transcend all material limitations.

The devil represents the dumb animal of instinct and impulsiveness. It’s the blind force of instinct that destroys reason and poisons liberty from the lower planes. We alone are responsible for the evil it causes, because it only acts through us. In order to manifest the beast it has to first be allowed to enter into and take form within us, and then be projected outward. In order to create the beast we have to first destroy the man. In Black Magic the devil is the great magical agent employed for evil purposes by a perverted will. It’s the “old serpent” of legend that is the eternal fire of earthly life, the soul of the Earth, and the living center of hell. How we create ourselves by the energies we draw in and use to create ourselves either condemns us to a hell of our own making as the reality born out of our weaknesses and addictions, or it purifies us and promotes our ascension to higher levels of consciousness.

The blind agent of Life energy represented here can be used under different leadership as an instrument for good and evil alike. It’s the minister of angels and prophets and of fairies and sorcerers. It’s the Astral Light of the material plane that has strong magnetic properties, and when evoked and utilized by “reason” are produced harmoniously, but when evoked by madness appear chaotic, disordered, and hideous. It’s the Life force that can be commanded by will and used to create within the material plane in an intelligent and precise manner, and in the opposite manner, it can control us through passions, lust and desire, and utilize our will as the means of creating through and as us.

Dr. Linda Gadbois   

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Linda holds a doctorate in Spiritual Sciences, and a Bachelor's in Clinical Hypnotherapy, along with numerous specialty certifications. She's a professional educator and Mentor, and offers a wide variety of Mentoring and Consulting Services, along with professional training programs. Some of her specialties include Personal Transformation, Self-Mastery, Spiritual Sciences, Transpersonal Psychology, and Integrative Mind-Body Medicine. For more info visit our Personal and Professional Services pages in the top menu bar of this site, or email us at: info@drlindagadbois.com

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