by Odyn PenDragon
The core idea of Atu VX “The Devil” is that of Enjoying Any Sensory Experience that you desire. By extension, that includes Any Sensual Experience that you desire. All other considerations are auxiliary. But, to me, the primary auxiliary consideration is rather the Abandonment of Morality: to actually ‘know’ that “morality” is an artificial construct. Here there is no such thing as a “wrong” activity. Even ‘murder’ is not a “wrong” act — just merely inconvenient for the recipient.
The greatest virtue of Atus XV and XVI is that of “Change Your Mind and Attitude”, or rather “Open Your Mind and Attitude”. Ignoring this prime directive at these stages does result in “failure”. (Thus Atu XV also tends to be interpreted in terms of “incoming occult knowledge” or other similar metaphors.)
In the Crowley-Harris version of this image is blatantly displayed a grand phallus plunging its ‘head’ into “a hole”. All that Crowley says of this “hole” is that it is “the rings of Nuit”. He does not further specify “what hole” it is. It is frankly any “hole” that the phallus (or, the phallus-wielder) desires: a vagina, a mouth, an anus, even a hole in a tree — so be it.
The best in “The Devil” is “how can I take the most advantage in all that is available”.
For those obsessed with “correct” or “incorrect” behavior, this portrait is of Wanton Abandon to Pleasure. Some people choose to freely and openly exhibit “their devil” without embarrassment. Others are embarrassed by “their devil” and ‘reveal’ it only within secluded confines, but still plague their mind with the “wrongness” of the act. The other set of secret practitioners fear the reactions of otherwise surrounding moralists, but themselves do not consider it “wrong”. There is a so-called ‘fourth class’ who wantonly display “their devil” with the added sensory delight of offending the surrounding moralists who think the act is “wrong”.
It is too bad that much of the discussions surrounding this idea tend to obsess around “sexual” considerations, given the rampant “sex-embarrassment” entrenched in not just any one human culture. I re-emphasize that this matter is about Sensory Experience, not just Sensual Experience. If someone enjoys being physically hurt, it does not automatically translate into a “sexual” experience. Yes, it is sensual, i.e. sensory. If someone enjoys watching someone else ‘puking their brains out’, finds it funny, there is nothing “wrong” with that — and there is nothing inherently “sexual” about the enjoyment either (but if it is, so be it).
Atu XV happens to focus on Abandonment of the artificial construct called “Morality”. (Abandonment of all other remaining artificial constructs rather occurs with Atu XVI — thus it is a much more devastating portrayal.) If one honestly examines the nature of “morality”, with its simplistic notions of “right” and “wrong” behavior, it is not difficult to see its intimate tie to sensory experience on all levels. It is by the ‘abandonment’ of this artificial construct that one gains a perspective on the nature of “moral” construction; then, at least, you become ‘the master’ of Your Moral Behavior, rather than being a slave to some “external absolute”. Herein lies my most profound objection to any “sane” discussion of “Evil” and ‘his’ companions with regard to this page (card). “Evil” has become one of those imagined absolutes that plagues the thought processes of those who want “external absolutes”. “Good” and “Evil”, “Right” and “Wrong” (which are merely emotional tags) have been turned, by many who desperately desire a sense of order, into comparative ‘deities’: absolutes unquestionable; violations of which are met with consternation. The reader who succumbs to any rant about “inappropriate behavior” when this page (card) appears in a reading, reveals themself as still enraptured with that spectre of “righteousness”. (And then there is no wonder, in this mind, why Atu XVI appears even more “mis-translated”.)
Atus XV and XVI are not the initiation of Breaking Limitations: that initiation occurred earlier in the Trump Series. These pages (cards) happen to focus on the Breaking of Sacredly-Held Limitations.
When this page (card) appears in a reading spread, along with whatever it may indicate for the querent (client) amidst the context of the spread, it should also serve as a reminder to the reader to carefully observe any “moral limitations” sacredly held by the reader, and to make an extra effort to not allow such to bias the reading. If I am doing a reading for a housing banker, and see indications that the client is about to foreclose on a bunch of delinquent mortgages, I have to resist the temptation to sabotage the reading that might help sabotage such an impending act — despite my “moral” objection to that act.