Light: Appreciating the luxuries that life has to offer. Being comfortable in your own skin. Enjoying your sexuality. Splurging on an expensive personal item. Embracing the fact that everyone has a darker side. Dealing with unhealthy impulses in healthy ways.
Shadow: Putting excessive emphasis on superficial things. Always wanting more. Valuing possessions more than people or relationships. Allowing base instincts to govern your life. Being selfish. Attributing your own dark impulses to outside forces or other people.
Personal Growth: Be honest: what habit or attitude holds you back most? You might find that the qualities you most detest in others are, in fact, reflections of your darkest self. Rather than be chained to old attitudes or habits, embrace your shortcomings and strive to make more conscious choices.
Work: The bottom line is important, but not all-important. Do not allow material concerns to obscure human issues. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying or being compensated for good work—but keep the money in perspective. Know when to say, “Enough’s enough.”
Relationships: Avoid the temptation to blame everything on everyone else; own your own contribution to the relationship’s success or failure. Doing what feels good is not always the best strategy. Take care that sexual attraction plays a healthy role; resist the tendency to be dominated by cravings.
Spirituality: Many traditions position the body as bad or evil, something unclean. In your own spiritual practice, consider the wisdom of relishing the body and its spectrum of sensations. You can honor the pleasures of the body without being enslaved by them.
Fortune-Telling: Adultery and unfaithfulness. A string of extremely bad luck is coming your way. Beware evil influences and wolves in sheep’s clothing.
Archetype: The Shadow, The Other
Religions: The Biblical Satan, certainly. Fallen angels, including Lucifer. Bacchus and Pan. Tempters and serpents of every stripe.
Fool's Journey: The main character comes face to face with their adversary. Alternatively, the main character realizes that his or her own perceptions or actions are the cause of the story’s primary problem.
The Number 6: The Adjustment: cooperation, collaboration, interaction.
The Devil: The Marseilles Devil incorporates bat wings and sexual features known as Baphomet. The RWS Devil, influenced by Pan and associations with Capricorn, is more bestial and fearsome. The Gilded Tarot emphasizes the attractiveness of the Devil; the Bright Idea Deck suggests that the Shadow is, in fact, within.
Prisoners: The Devil is accompanied by fauns -- mythical half-goats whose horns and tails emphasize their bestial nature. Their fascination with the material prevents them from stepping away from the loose chains around their necks.
Flames: Flames appear on the tip of the male faun’s tail in the RWS, and on the second tree of the Lover's card next to the Tree of Knowledge. Flames represent all-consuming passion.
Pentagram: Upright, the Star of David is associated with the five points of the human body. Inverted as a pentagram it suggests the head (the intellect) has been conquered by desire.
Nudity: Nudity communicates innocence, openness, and shamelessness. On some cards, like the Star and Lovers cards, this is a good thing. On others, like the Devil card, it's framed as a weakness.
Content generously licensed from Mark McElroy via TarotTools.com.