‘Sympathy for the Devil’?…


I saw a garden blossom in a valley. A man and woman stood there.

Their love for each other was a service to the cosmos,

and through it they received the highest revelations and the deepest truths.

They lived in a magical world which also served them.

Through love they experienced the mystery of the world’s equilibrium,

and they themselves symbolised that very balance…


I saw the woman look out of the garden into the valley beyond,

rapt by its beauty.

A snake slid up the trunk of a fruit laden tree and whispered in her ear.

She listened suspiciously, and then smiled with joy, and spoke to the man

who, it seemed, held only admiration for her.


And I heard a voice saying, “The vision you see is one of temptation…”


… Black night enveloped the earth.

Far away in the distance an ominous red-flame burned.

High above, in the sky, appeared a repulsive red-face,

with large hairy ears, a pointed beard, and goat-horns.

On either side of the hideous visage spread large, leathery, bat-wings.

The monster’s right arm was held aloft, palm-spread,

and bore the sign of Black Magic.

A burning torch adorned its other hand

which was held down, pointing to the earth.

This form crouched on a pedestal, its eagle

claws, extending from shaggy goat legs, gripped each corner.


A man and woman, with horns and tails tipped with flame,

were chained to the pedestal.

They were dissatisfied in spirit and filled with protest and repulsion.

All they heard was the voice of the Devil,

“I am evil,” he said, “I am the Prince of Lies because I am

the most monstrous product of human lies.

In order to see me one must be able to see unfairly, incorrectly and narrowly.

I close the triangle of Time and Death.

In order to quit this triangle it is necessary to see that I do not exist.”


And I heard a voice saying, “The vision you see is one of weakness.

The man and woman are the same you saw in the garden

but their love, ceasing to become a sacrifice, became an illusion.

They forgot that love is a link in the chain leading to Eternity.

Love became dissension, and fettered them to matter on which sits deceit.

They forgot the key which leads to the magic world.

The torch which lights the higher path.”

“Life is so good,” I said, “and the world so beautiful.

The man and woman wanted to believe in the reality of the world

and of themselves.

They wanted to take from the world what it can give.

They made a distinction between themselves and the world.

The world separated from them and became hostile.”

“So true,” said the voice, “the everlasting mistake is to see a fall in love.

Love is not a fall, it is the soaring above an abyss.

The higher the flight, the more beautiful and alluring the earth.

The fall of man repeats itself perpetually because

man continues to believe in his separateness.

Only by means of a great struggle can he liberate himself

from the control of time and return to Eternity.”



*Adapted from, The Symbolism of the Tarot – P.D. Ouspensky,1913

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