In the Rider Waite deck the Devil Tarot card appears threatening because of the card‘s black background. The Devil occupies nearly the entire Tarot card. He is half man, half animal, has horns and the fur of a billy goat. He has the wings of a bat and claws have replaced his feet. In his left hand he holds a burning torch that points downwards and his right hand is stretched upwards as if he were taking an oath.
Between his horns he is decorated with a pentagram, the symbol of black magic. In front of him are two small naked devils, one female, the other male, both with small horns and a tail. Chains are tied around their necks that bind them to the base of the larger devil's throne.
Yet these two little devils on card XV do not seem too unhappy. They can slip off their chains at will and both symbolise a life energy that is expressed by the images on the tips of their tails: by the bunch of grapes (fertility) on one side and the glowing fire (energy) on the other. We also sense a certain ambivalence in them with regard to their proximity to the Devil: fear mixed with attraction.
If you take the sum of the digits of the number 15, you get 6 (VI), which is attributed to the Tarot card, "The Lovers", which represents such things as decisions of the heart. The two tarot cards seem to embody the two sides of a coin: On the one card (VI) we see the Garden of Eden with the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge. An angel hovers in the sky, with Adam and Eve standing in front of it, naked and innocent, for they have not yet eaten from the forbidden fruit.
On the other card (XV) we see Adam and Eve after the Fall of Man. They have lost their innocence. The angel has become a devil and the angel wings have been exchanged for those of a bat. These, like the black background, refer to the kingdom of darkness. On the one card everything is bathed in bright colours, the sun shines and it is day; on the other everything is dark and grey and only the burning torch of hellfire lightens the night's darkness.
The cards represent the contrasts between up and down, the conscious and the unconscious and good and evil are apparent in the cards' symbolism.
Which of us is not aware of this division? We actually want to have "pure hearts," meaning to be good, but then we fall in love with a friend's husband or become involved in the eternal triangle, becoming (hopelessly) dependent: We end up being unfaithful to those we love and feeling jealous, angry and hateful. Each of us has his own dark side that he represses or tries to detach from by projecting it onto others.
This malevolence then confronts us outwardly, through the person who brought us into temptation and does not release us - the other one who carries the blame. The Devil is very well suited for such projections and becomes the scapegoat for all negative and bad things.