Attachment is the new Non-attachment.
Capricorn, The Devil XV
When the Devil card shows up this is a particularly uncomfortable image for most people. Riddled with Christian iconography of the horrors of the afterlife, many have a specific notion as to what this card may mean. But if we dive deeper, we find layers and layers of meaning that far pre-date the influence of the Old and New Testament.
Let’s take a trip back through time before we venture into the present to understand this relationship with the Horned God.
The Age of Taurus, 4,000 – 2,000 BCE was an astrological age that aligns with the late Neo-Lithic period a.k.a. the New Stone Age. It was during this time that humans first settled land and began the domestication of plants and animals, known as the Agricultural Revolution, a move that irreversibly shaped our future. What animals did we first domesticate? But goats, sheep, cattle and pigs. The domestication of these animals forever changed our relationship with the wild and along with that, our relationship with each other and our divinity. Early civilizations were Animistic, the deified the natural world through beliefs and mythologies to help us understand the natural phenomenon of place. Our existence was so dependent on the successful harvest of vegetal and animal crops that our worship surrounded their good health and abundant production.. In particular the hoofed animals had a relationship with the cereal crops, aligning two types of deities, the horned ones and those of the grain, typically embodying masculine and feminine qualities of the horned phallus and the rich and round seed. While this may make some of you reding uncomfortable, it was also the increase in animal proteins and fats that expedited our cognitive evolution, by increasing the size of our brains and health of our reproductive hormones. Prior to this, the gatherer-hunter nomadic societies sporadically ate meat and subsisted mostly on vegetal matter. Humans relied on these animals for their very survival, so much so that they fought over land ownership for grazing rights, they killed off countless predators and even in the attempted genocide of the Americas the colonists slaughtered the buffalo as a way of attacking the indigenous peoples of the Great Plains.
This relationship with the animal was so important to our evolution and survival that they became an important focus of reverence and worship, and so became the gods known as the Horned Ones. Each culture has deities associated with horned animals, those such as Proto Shiva, Cernunnos, Minotaur, Buffalo Woman, Little White Deer, Amun, Baal, Hathor, Enkidu, Shennong, Pinga, Faunus and finally the infamous Pan, the inspiration of the Christian Devil.
When the Christians began their evangelical mission of conversion, they often coopted the gods of the lands they conquered. Deities were morphed into saints, angels or demons. The most famous was turning the angel Lucifer, the bringer of light and knowledge, into a horned and hairy goat man. Pan, the Greek God of the Wild, is a faun, half goat – half man. He embodies all that is instinct and pleasure. A guardian of the forest, animals and human love making, he directly contradicted the Christian values of chastity and their fear of the spirits of the wood. When they burned down the sacred groves, they destroyed the home of Pan. When they chained him up as the devil, they disallowed the nature of the forest to be perfection in chaos. Chaos forces evolution, just ask any hurricane. Pan is totality, Pan is nourishment. His name feeds our belly and it feeds the riot. Pan is change, unpredictable and inevitable. The bibles hates that, because it sees its law as eternal, yet, if we study epochs of time, we know, that the world only ever will change, nothing static exists here, it is wild and it is dynamic.
When the Devil shows up in a Tarot reading, we start to question the nature of attachment. In a surface level reading, we could ask about things like addiction to stuff, substances, sex, food, as well as codependent tendencies, and even so far into things like bondage, servitude or at the absolute most horrific, slavery. Yet if we go even deeper, we start to question the concepts of radical independence, individualism, extraction capitalism and colonialism. We have been convinced that everything we do has to be done alone, that the army of one is the only thing that can save you, that you can’t share but only compete for resources and that if you ask for help you are weak. Even the teachings of spiritual masters like the Buddha teach non-attachment, particularly from desire and worldly possession’s.
As someone who loves studying and observing the ecosystem, and as a witch who believes in the elemental quality of life, that spirit exists in matter, intellect, emotion and inspiration and that all are valid, real and completely inseparable, I began to notice how attached the world actually is! Everything in the forest, meadow, reef, river, lake and desert ecosystem is in a state of mutualistic co-arising, meaning, that each and everything is mutually dependent on other organisms in order for it to become what it is meant to be, we can call this, interdependence or interconnectedness. There is stark evidence that humans are communal beings, and that loneliness leads to depression, dementia and other chronic mental and physical illness. Humans need each other more than we have been brainwashed to believe. We have an intimate attachment to the world outside of our human perception. Humans too easily forget that we are not separate but a single string on a countless and ever changing web of life. The talk of community isn’t just a utopian dream but absolutely necessary for our survival! Remember, that when we feel alone, we also feel separate and scared. This is why one of the worst punishments is isolation! If humans really moved toward communal living, bioregional economic systems, and mutual aid how necessary would power over governmental systems that thrive on hate, fear, illness and scarcity actually be?!
So when I pull the Devil for someone in a reading, I will look to the classic interpretations regarding bondage, but I will also question about the need for connection. I will ask questions about community, friendship and seek to where this person has broken threads, threads that need reweaving, to be re-dyed or mended in some other way. I also ask the person, channeling Pan, what are they not listening to in regard to their instinct, how do they feel disconnected, trapped or overly domesticated. What are they dependent on that isn’t actually supporting their evolution, but keeping them stuck, stagnant and complacent?
With the effects of these feeling during a New Moon phase, when the darkness seems to be all around us, the sense of loneliness can feel almost oppressive. A New Moon is about engaging the sensuous, we can’t see clearly or barely at all, so we need to feeeeeel. We need to open up our ears and listen beyond the chatter of our minds and outdoor business, we need to taste life and savor the bites, whether they be of a yummy dish, a loved one or the metaphorical swish of a savory astringent life wine, we need to reach out and touch, be touched and allow our armor to melt away, while we relax into the arms of a friend, lover, pet or service. We need to open up the sixth sense and allow instinct to guide us around those ideas of knowing where everything is because supposedly it has always been there, yet it will it actually remain that way?
At this New Moon in Capricorn, let’s ponder your stories of individuality, independence and solitude. Reach out and touch someone (consensually), or reach out and touch the soil.
A great earthly meditation for you all in equatorial or souther hemisphere is to go sit on the earth, feel yourself held by countless organisms all cheering on your survival. Feel your bones in the earth, your tiny hairs as mycelium, your tears as rain drops. If you are in northern climates, then take yourself into the warmth of your bed, imagine yourself as your ancient ancestors, huddled around the fire of the cave or the long house. If you have friends or family close, get them under the covers too and tell stories of your people. If you live solo, make yourself a cup of tea and spend some time on the phone with one you miss.