Sunday, March 12, 2017

This Week's Writerly Tarot: The Devil

Say what you will, the Devil is certainly an attention-getting card. I mean, look at itin the Rider-Waite-Smith, it's a symbolic buffet of everything our culture regards as evil, personified by the goat-headed and bat-winged Baphomet, the upside-down pentacle, the naked human figures in chains. Darkness. Damnation. Despair. It's all in there.

Except that it's not.

Like most of the more unfriendly-looking cards, there's a deeper meaning that isn't so overtly terrifying. In the Steampunk Tarot, the Devil is a red-hot coal-guzzling machine of our own making that requires constant stoking, constant attention. In the Druidcraft deck, the Celtic horned god Cernunnos takes the place of the Devil, and reminds us that our pleasures can sometimes become our addictions. In the World Spirit tarot, the Devil looks like a rock star with flowing black hair and skintight leather pants, and he stands on a stage with hellfire burning behind him; this Devil is all about temptation and the taboo.

So what does the Devil right in front of us have to say? As always, a closer look reveals the truth. For even though the slightly demonic humans on this card are chained to their demons (literally), the chains are loose around their necks, easy to slip off if they wanted to. And that's the key to understanding the bondage pictured here—it's voluntary. We forged the chains that hold us. We are complicit in our own domination. But we have the power to slip free.

Ponder the things that bind you—how many of them are things you have created yourself? As a writer, I sometimes spend more time emailing, blogging, Facebooking, tweeting, reviewing, promoting, marketing, and updating my website than I do actually working on my WIP. And the thing is, I invited all these things into my life. I heaped them on my plate all by myself. Busyness can be utterly addicting, I have discovered.

This week, look at the chains you have willingly created link by link. Some of them might be pretty; some of them might have been useful once upon a time. Surely some are loose enough to slip right off your neck. Shake 'em off, baby. Leave 'em on the floor as you walk away.

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