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Rider Waite Tarot Deck Devil Card


I know this may be difficult to answer for some people because they may not have the same deck, but for the devil card what is that thing that the devil is holding on his left hand?
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Only looking at a wee centennial in a tin here... but it looks like just a flaming torch on mine
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That's a torch. (Still the "Light Bringer" even in the Underworld. . i.e. the translation of the name Lucifer - which I think is beautiful - is "Light Bringer".)
It makes me think of ice-cream though as it looks like a giant upside down cone - which could be quite appropriate.
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In many of the Marseille decks, the Devil is holding a firebrand—an ordinary piece of wood burning on one end. In old pictures, the Devil is often shown carrying a firebrand. It represents a weapon or an instrument of torture. If you look up 'firebrand' in a thesaurus, it will have words like troublemaker, agitator, hothead, stirrer, revolutionary, demagogue.

Normally a torch would be held upright to provide illumination. I'm not sure why the Devil holds it downward but one thing seems clear, he's not interested in using it for illumination.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Abrac View Post
Normally a torch would be held upright to provide illumination. I'm not sure why the Devil holds it downward but one thing seems clear, he's not interested in using it for illumination.
Maybe because where he's going he doesn't need to see. As the Lord of the Gates of Matter, the Devil represents the step after the immersion and incubation of the Hanged Man. It may not actually be a torch but a Wand, symbolizing unbridled creative urge. Put another way, while Crowley made his Devil a huge phallus, Waite didn't omit that particular symbol either. He just displayed it differently.

Levi's Baphomet would suggest something of the sort; its lowered hand says coagula. His torch, though, seems to be jutting amusingly from his head.
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How amusing to me - that I read Abracs end-comment on illumination as "illumination of the right path" i.e. showing a person the "proper" or "moral" way.
Then Zephyros talks about actual illumination as in "light in order to physically see" (I think).

And I'm thinking - from a sort of Bible bashing concept perhaps "hell" would be full of fire
and the Lord of that domain would ofcourse need no physical light to see with. Lol.
With him holding the brand at his side in such a manner - he might be waiting for just the right opportunity to apply the kind of force (brand suddenly under someone's underpants) to spur them into that "not so Kosher" decision. Waiting for the moment to jump in and "set the tinder box alight". Metaphorically speaking.

And yes - it is of course, also a wand ala Zephyros.
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Twice in 2 days I'm thinking of the similar Bota cards. The temperance angel and devil have the same torch, and Temperance's torch wouldn't have to be upside down for the yods to fall.
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Smile Waite's description


Hey ya Redfirestone,
I thought this might be helpful to you. It's certainly helped clarify symbols on the cards for me.
Here is an excerpt from A.E.Waite's - The Pictorial Key To The Tarot
XVI The Devil
The design is an accommodation, mean or harmony, between several motives mentioned in the first part. The Horned Goat of Mendes, with wings like those of a bat, is standing on an altar. At the pit of the stomach there is the sign of Mercury. The right hand is upraised and extended, being the reverse of that benediction which is given by the Hierophant in the fifth card. In the left hand there is a great flaming torch, inverted towards the earth. A reversed pentagram is on the forehead. There is a ring in front of the altar, from which two chains are carried to the necks of two figures, male and female. These are analogous with those of the fifth card, as if Adam and Eve after the Fall. Hereof is the chain and fatality of the material life. The figures are tailed, to signify the animal nature, but there is human intelligence in the faces, and he who is exalted above them is not to be their master for ever. Even now, he is also a bondsman, sustained by the evil that is in him and blind to the liberty of service. With more than his usual derision for the arts which he pretended to respect and interpret as a master therein, Éliphas Lévi affirms that the Baphometic figure is occult science and magic. Another commentator says that in the Divine world it signifies predestination, but there is no correspondence in that world with the things which below are of the brute. What it does signify is the Dweller on the Threshold without
the Mystical Garden when those are driven forth therefrom who have eaten the forbidden fruit.
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Levi says the following in Transcendental Magic:
The torch of intelligence burning between the horns is the magical light of universal equilibrium; it is also the type of the soul, exalted above matter, even while cleaving to matter, as the flame cleaves to the torch.
For Levi the burning torch was intelligence and a "type of the soul" elevated above matter. Therefore it wouldn't seem too far off base to suggest that Waite was trying to show intelligence or the soul entangled in matter. In Levi the flame is depicted above the torch (matter) but for Waite it's below.

Waite's inverted pentagram suggests the same idea. With the single point up the pentagram symbolizes the spirit or intelligence exalted above the other four points which represent matter. Notice Levi's Baphomet has the pentagram in the upright position.

Levi’s Baphomet
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The torch flame represents Lévi's "astral light" - a concept that's way too complex to do justice to here as it is central to his philosophy.
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