Tarot & Fable:
The Wild Monkeys,
The Devil Key XV
(c) Cheryl Lynne Bradley 2004
The Devil card in the Tarot is a complex and complicated card but, for the most part, raises issues about emotional and material bondage and the pitfalls of greed and selfishness. I think it is a card that speaks very much about the way the world seduces us. We are tempted with material goods which are pricey and beyond our reach. How many times are you prepared to chase that carrot around a track before you think you deserve a taste? The illusion of physical and emotional perfection, as promoted by media, is a source of low self-esteem, fear, anxiety and doubt. The Devil in Tarot is also speaking to us about the dark currents of the Will: to take, to keep, to advance, to achieve greatness and to hold onto without allowing someone or something else to move forward. We very often do not realize that the key to our own freedom is about letting go.
This is a story which I think epitomizes these ideas.
A teacher took his pupils into a clearing in the forest that was known as a home for wild monkeys. There he took a hollow gourd with a small hole and inserted sweetened rice which is a favorite of monkeys. He chained the gourd to a stake and waited, with his students, across a clearing which allowed a clear view of the rice bowl. Soon a very large monkey approached, sniffed the rice, inserted his paw, and screeched in frustration when he was unable to withdraw his paw (now a fist) through the narrow opening.
Just then a leopard approached, and, hearing the monkey screeching, decided to have monkey for his dinner. "Let go of the rice! Run!" yelled the pupils, but to no avail. The monkey, in his hunger for the rice, refused to let go and was as a consequence caught and eaten by the leopard.
"Now, what was the trap that killed the monkey?" asked the teacher.
"Rice," said one student.
"The ground," said another.
"No," replied the teacher. "The trap was greed."