The Goat is the ruling spirit of Saturn’s Sephira on the Tree at Understanding. Although Saturn also rules Aquarius, it is the more earthly Capricorn side of his nature which gives us such trouble. The Tarot cards are an old and venerable system of divination based on the Tree of Life. The twenty-two Major Arcana or Trumps of the Tarot represent the twenty-two Paths of the Tree, the ten planets and the twelve Signs. The Devil card represents the Sign of the Goat.
The Devil is the most easily recognised of all the divine portraits of Christianity. It is also the most difficult and the most important to understand. It is difficult even to discuss the Devil sensibly without attracting adverse misunderstanding but ignorance is the principle instrument of the Prince of Darkness and ‘the truth will set you free,’ says Christ (John 8. v.32) First of all we need to recognise Satan was originally one of the sons of Yahweh, Jehovah, one of the sons of God (Job Ch.1 v.6) :
‘One day when the sons of God came to attend on Yahweh, among them came Satan.’
This should tell us he is part of the heavenly set up, the divine economy, God’s family. Evil is all part of the Plan. This does not mean it is sanctioned for any other purpose than to teach us what we should NOT be doing. This is strictly the function of evil. Its excesses and their consequences send us a powerful message, this is not the way to go.
Historically evil has flourished most when we try to point the finger at it. What we all-too-readily damn is often quite harmless : heresy, witches or homosexuals, other religions, other sects within Christianity. These are just different ideas, just life going in new ways which may even have valuable benefits. We too eagerly damn anything which is different, which challenges us, and give ourselves an excuse to fail in love and understanding, and give ourselves a licence to kill, torture or bully.
This ignorance and intolerance is one of the great strengths of the Prince of Darkness because it offers us the ultimate challenge we are often not prepared to rise to. Learning respect for other men and women different to ourselves. Learning to recognise we ourselves are not faultless. Shining a light on our own demons. It is so much easier to condemn others in a fury of self-righteousness.
Wrapping evil in self-righteousness is the oldest trick, so often an impregnable armour.
Besides unleashing our own dark side, this witch-hunt mentality distracts attention from the everyday evil we are all part of, evil which makes this world hell for so many instead of the heaven on earth it should be. No one wants to recognise their own failings but we love recognising others’. So wrong flourishes unchecked.
In the Gospels Christ sets a very different agenda to the harsh intolerance of the Old Testament, showing mercy to the woman guilty of adultery. Adultery used to be punished by stoning to death. Two thousand years later we are all too ready to cast the first stone, without asking too many questions. And the Devil celebrates man’s inhumanity to man.
When we recognise Satan as the Capricorn side of Saturn we can begin to understand this problem. The problem arises not from the nature of Capricorn itself but simply from the dangers of excess, too much of a good thing. Capricorn has always been the Sign which gives us all the good things in life, a veritable cornucopia of riches, the bounty of God’s good earth. And there is nothing wrong with any of it … in moderation. ‘Capricorns,’ those with the Sun in Capricorn, often display a more enlightened attitude to this spirit.
Saturn is a vast, massive planet, about 650 times the size of Earth. But Saturn is only about half the size of Jupiter and tiny compared to the glorious Sun which is approximately two thousand times greater.
The hugely excessive influence of Saturn’s spirit is due to the fact Earth is also ruled by Capricorn. As Earthlings we share this physical spirit and we are particularly susceptible to the influence of Saturn’s mighty sway. The power of Saturn is greatly magnified to an overwhelming lordship, as if he was the only power in our heavens. Saturn’s rule usually blinds us to recognise nothing else beyond the material values, the material riches this spirit promotes. We think nothing else is important compared to money and success, what we can see and touch, what money can buy. Any talk of spiritual values, our immortal spirit, God, is treated with contempt by ‘rationalists.’
When we embrace materialism, we embrace death, ‘the Grim Reaper,’ who will take away all we love and leave us without hope. If we recognise the spirit within, we know we will never die and death is the ultimate holiday : we take with us all we value and cherish. This is not just a moment’s concern at the end : this is the deep fear or the soaring hope we live with all our lives. The image of the Grim Reaper colours up Old Father Time, one of Saturn’s images. His scythe expands on Saturn’s astrological symbol, the sickle, closely associated with harvest time.
Capricorn is an earth Sign which covers the realm of material things. Particularly it encompasses wealth, power and status. These are important and valuable assets for us all and we all need these riches and political skills even at the homely family level ! They are an important part of how we relate to each other. Wealth and power often define how important we are to one another. They are essential in every life to some extent.
The problem comes when these assets become regarded as the only things of any value. Nothing else really matters. Everything else is sacrificed to the pursuit of wealth and success : family, friends, relationships, honesty, humanity, reputation. On this planet that happens all too often. When we achieve our ambition, all too often we find ourselves empty-handed. We have lost everything of value and gained gold which cannot buy happiness.
It is easy to say material things bring us no real happiness, no lasting satisfaction and wealth and power are a drug which is highly addictive and gives an ever diminishing gratification. It is much more difficult to resist the allure of these luxuries when they are the common coinage of respect and recognition, when they are so highly prized by everyone else. One gets precious little recognition for having a happy family, say, or for being a good friend, maintaining a happy marriage, a reputation for fair-mindedness.
We can conquer evil if we can use the riches of this earth and the power we hold in moderation, not as an insatiable end in itself, always needing more the more we have, always for our own ends, our own aggrandizement. We are indeed rich and wealthy, in our spirits, in our selves, if we can value these gifts in moderation.
Evil is simply the pursuit of material things to the exclusion of other values, to the detriment of others. Whenever we put these material values above other, more human values, not caring, not minding the damage we do, the suffering we cause, this is evil, the oppressive excess of Saturn’s spirit. This is what makes life hell.
The value and importance of our feelings, our thoughts and our instincts, even their reality, is often doubted, frequently ignored. Yet without the life of these subtler spirits, in reality we have no life at all. We are creatures of spirit and when the life of our spirits is denied in favour of material imperatives, life is not worth living and we are not worth loving.
This evil, this lack of humanity, is principally perpetrated by big impersonal corporations and nation states but as the Germans learned after World War II, we have to take responsibility for what is done in our name, what we sanction, what we vote for, what we buy. Ignorance is no defence when it is wilful ignorance, complicit ignorance. We choose who we listen to, the papers we buy, the programmes we watch, the parties and policies we vote for. The narrow choice within politics are the policies with proven appeal.
Generally in the west these are selfish, materialistic choices, what’s best for us and we don’t want to know about making the world a better place, about saving the planet for our children.
We support these same values in our own petty personal decisions. It is true we are manipulated skilfully and power succeeds by appealing to our worst instincts, the lowest common denominator, instincts which unite us all. But our much valued free will does not allow us to excuse our abuses. Increasingly we are looking for something better.
Increasingly we are recognising the hollowness of the promises of modern materialism. Increasingly we are looking for values which reach out in compassion and love to those in need around our world. In a lightening fast social evolution which is as dangerously slow as a snail crossing a road, increasingly we are rejecting the politics of domination, exploitation and reckless consumption which have made us rich and unsatisfied. We still have an awful long way to go and time might be short.
This rapid reassessment of values heralds the fulfilment of the Revelation prophecy for the end of the world, the end of time and the end of the Devil : ‘And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone.’ (Revelation Ch.20 v.10)
These prophecies all refer to the same thing. When we recognise the physical world is part of the spiritual realm, everything is sacred and we are divine creatures who do not die, then time becomes eternity and our blind materialism sees the light. We shall find the great world of wealth and commerce, buying and selling everything on God’s earth, including the souls of men and women, this Babylon becomes obsolete and crashes in ruins.
The lake of fire burning with brimstone is a metaphor for the earth with its fiery heart, ruled by the fire of Aries and the earth, the stone, of Capricorn. The Devil will be overthrown but he will not be entirely eradicated from earth. A more realistic outcome.
Time was Saturn’s Greek name, Chronos, because time is definitively a physical phenomenon. In the Tarot Saturn is represented by ‘the World,’ partly due to his affinity with Earth but principally because astrologically his spirit rules the hurly burly of mundane affairs. The universal temptations of the Big Apple.
This apocalyptic prophecy is explored further in connection with the Assumption of Mary. Mary as the new Queen of Heaven represents the positive side of Saturn’s spirit in the Christianity Quaternity. For two thousand years her role as symbolising, for instance, the wealth and power of Holy Mother Church has not always been beyond reproach.
Just as Peter, the Rock of the Church, finally betrays Christ who has already accused him, ‘He rebuked Peter, and said to him, ‘Get behind me, Satan ! You are thinking not as God thinks but as human beings do.’’ (Mk.8 v.33) Peter also represents the Sign of Capricorn, of the Twelve. Pure Kabbalah in the New Testament.
When Satan is cast down from his heights Mary takes his place at the heavenly courts, representing this spirit as earthly man and womankind redeemed, attaining divine status. Understanding is the place of Eve on the Tree of Life in traditional Kabbalah and Mary is Eve redeemed, the stain of Original Sin obliterated, and the blind sins of the flesh no longer a problem, when we can recognise the spirit within.
This is the significance of the fall of Satan. We shall recognise all physical things in a metaphysical, spiritual perspective, as part of the indivisible spectrum of the spirits. Our blind materialism will slip into history, as an unthinkable ignorance. We may still fall foul of the temptation to Lucifer’s luxuries but never again will people believe there is no more to life than what meets our eyes. Never more will our eyes blind us to the truth, our senses betray us to senseless greed and despair.
Revelation promises Mary will take her place in heaven as the heavenly Bride with the heavenly Bridegroom and the fulfilment of this prophecy was finally proclaimed by the Vatican in 1950. Mary’s Assumption effectively announces the arrival of ‘the latter days,’ the apocalyptic period of the End Days when the prophecies of Revelation should come to pass.
This is rightly timed to coincide with the end of the age of Pisces, the age of the Fish, the Christian age, and the dawning of a new age, the coming of a new Messiah, the Second Coming so long looked for, so poorly prepared for.