The Devil is another of the popularly misunderstood cards of the Tarot, perhaps second only to Death in this category. In our modern world we do not like to think that there is a seed of negativity in everyone, so we assume that anything bad that happens must be the work of some outside Devil, who is to be feared and shunned. But really, people do not do bad things because a force outside them is controlling their actions. They do bad things because the negative part of their own personality is expressing itself. To deny this side of yourself is to give it power over you, and to give it free reign over your life will eventually destroy you.
The symbolic portrayal of the Devil in the Tarot is a clear mockery of two previous Major Arcana, the Lovers and the Hierophant. The former parody is perhaps the more obvious. Where the angel hovers on the Lovers, the Devil stands on his card, cursing the man and woman rather than blessing them. They who were once connected to each other by love are now attached to the Devil by their chains of lust and ignorance. The Devil's hand mimics the gesture of the Hierophant, but perverts it. The true Hierophant offers spiritual wisdom and beckons to us with an open hand. The Devil's gesture hides his true intentions of hurtful wisdom - not really wisdom at all.