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  • Writer's pictureKate

Story prompt: The Devil



Here he is, one of the most feared cards in the Tarot deck. So how can The Devil be creative as a card? Well, because he represents our shadows, our fatal flaws, our unhealthy habits and behaviour, our negative thoughts and all our difficult emotions. In other words, he is story gold.


Ever read a good story which has no conflict, no challenge, no edge? Me neither. The Devil represents our primitive survival states (symbolised by the animal-like nature of the two figures), where we are at our most unconscious and prone to see the world through the lens of fear and reactivity.


However, if you look at the figures, you will see the chains around their necks are loose – they could slip out of them anytime if they consciously chose to – but will they? Therein lies the conflict, the challenge, the heart of the story perhaps.


Sometimes I see this card as symbolizing the oldest tale there is - coming up against our internal (and external) demons and either making the change or reverting back to form. If you had a story, where would The Devil fit into it? Are the two figures in the picture two different characters – or aspects of the same person? Who, or what, does The Devil represent? How can these characters be freed from his power, or how did they come to find themselves in this situation in the first place?


I was given some writing advice once not to start a story at the beginning (because the beginning is never the beginning) but in the middle somewhere, right in the heart of the conflict - in other words, with The Devil himself. People always wince when this card shows up but in a way, he is the dark heart of every story, the challenge we must all face and overcome. But this needn't be traumatic. He looks scary because it's in his interest to keep us in a place of fear. But if you look closely you will see he is wearing a mask. Because in reality (and in fiction) there is nothing to fear with The Devil but fear itself.

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