imageAnother January. Another chance to see if I’m really serious about keeping my New Year’s resolutions—or if I’ll start breaking them right off just like I did last year. Another chance to get over myself, to climb the high mountain, expressing the surefootedness of the CAPRICORN goat, and hysterically laugh at my old ways, those patterns that don’t seem to be working anymore. Those blocks I keep unconsciously putting in my own way and tripping over—all those hang-ups that keep hanging on?

After all, it’s a brand new year, a brand new day. Is this really time to put my life in perspective? Can I actually do it?  Or am I going to stayed chained like the poor fools on Tarot Key 15, The Devil, and accept the bold-faced lie that I’m incapable of altering my fate? What can I do to change my life? To change the world?  I can’t help but wonder if Benjamin Franklin ever asked himself that question. He was a CAPRICORN. Or Albert Einstein? Joan of Arc? Those Voices got her into a whole lot of trouble, but she listened and changed the course of French history.

I wonder whether CAPRICORN Frenchmen Paul Cezanne and Henri Matisse ever wondered about their art being accepted? Suppose they turned in their brushes without making any effort? We all know of a CAPRICORN named Richard Nixon—about the blind ambition that cost him the presidency (the Father of Lies on this Tarot card has the wings of a bat, a creature known to suffer from incredibly poor vision). Yet we also know about Nixon’s extraordinary determination to climb the mountain of public life one more time. After all, a true CAPRICORN never knows when to quit, even when it might be the intelligent thing to do.

CAPRICORN has a knack for learning from his or her mistakes. Sometimes really big ones. We all have CAPRICORN in our charts somewhere! Another opportunity for soul growth, as we say in the metaphysical trade, and believe me, the year ahead is going to be an opportunity for big-time soul growth for just about every nation in the world. So pay attention, accept the challenge of the moment, or you could end up with an even bigger challenge in its place. Why not face the music and dance?

The bestialized humans on this card are suffering from ignorance. They need to wake up and open their eyes to reality. They haven’t realized the chains around their necks are loose. It wouldn’t be such a big deal to slip right out of them. Here we are saying, “Wake up, stupid. Take the chains off and get the hell out of there.” But do they listen? Of course not. These are aspects of ourselves, blind resignation to our present fate, whatever that is They experience shame, guilt, regret, remorse, or worse. They know they did something to deserve the mess they’ve gotten into, and naturally, the devil made them do it from the start. How could they possibly take responsibility for the trials and tribulations they face? Heaven forbid!

Perhaps while they were children their father or mother or Aunt Harriet said they would never amount to anything. They weren’t pretty enough, handsome enough, smart enough, clever enough. Maybe their third grade teacher put a hex on them by pointing out their sloppy penmanship, and they still have trouble reading their own handwriting?

What’s the use?  Why try? I hate my life. What can I do to change things? How many more lies do I have to tell myself to stay where I am? How long can I go on feeling guilty about my past mistakes and shortcomings? How tight or heavy can I make the chains that bind me? How long can I stay depressed about the economic state of the world? World hunger? Greenhouse warming? Terrorist acts? Biological warfare? Smallpox vaccine? There’s always something to depress me, honest to God! Or could it be time to ask myself—is there anything I can do to change the quality of my life? Anything whatsoever?

Look at what Edgar Allan Poe (CAPRICORN) did with his alcoholic depression. He wrote dismal, disconcerting, scary stories about strange people and bizarre circumstances. Thank heavens he didn’t just sit there and stare into his empty brandy glass or hypodermic syringe. If you really want to be depressed, it’s fine, but do something productive with it like Poe. Turn your dark addiction into something profitable like a genuine CAPRICORN (we all have CAPRICORN somewhere—the same as we all have bones, a spleen, and knees ruled by CAPRICORN). Write something morose that will be around for a few centuries and scare the hell out of, not only just elementary school children, but full-grown college students reading English assignments late at night when every creak sounds like some maniac ready to jump out and chop you to pieces before burying what’s left behind some stupid brick wall.

Or wiggle your hips and sing like Elvis. Then the world may forgive you for your conspicuous imperfections that took you away from them far too soon. Your face may also end up on a postage stamp. Or make people laugh like Danny Kay or Cary Grant, two CAPRICORNS famous for their humor. A subtle meaning attached to Key 15, The Devil, happens to be mirth.

This card represents our great need to laugh at ourselves, to stop taking ourselves so seriously. Such as on those days when everything goes so terribly wrong that there’s nothing else left to do but laugh! We’ve all had those days. As a last resort laughter is a lot better for our health than tears, although on occasion a good cry is therapeutic and downright cathartic. As long as you don’t make yourself sick, which is a definite possibility by hanging on to depression.

Let’s face it… Satan is a sick joke waiting to push us over the edge of a mountainous precipice into the valley of rejection, denial and abject cynicism. It’s that little cloud that hangs over the head of a disgruntled CAPRICORN when the bills from holiday spending arrive on a cold January morning. When Scrooge wakes up after Christmas and cries out in despair, “Did I really spend that much on those stupid presents? Have you seen my Macy’s bill?” Days when a CAPRICORN thinks they’ve cornered the market on depression. Only the wise know better.

Take Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who became so depressed and despondent over the rights and state of his  race, that he had a dream, and his dream started changing things. Some aspects of his dream came true, and those who believe in his dream keep climbing the icy slopes of the dark mountain against the harsh north winds of prejudice and hate to the point that the color a person’s skin becomes less important than the breadth and depth of their character. I don’t suppose Dr. King ever asked, “What can I do to change things?”  He just did it and altered the course of history. He forced people to wake up to the chains keeping them in bondage because they were afraid to do things any differently. Because they were afraid to take a chance before Dr. King gave them the bright vision.

CAPRICORN is a sign of undaunted leadership. Fear is another word for Key 15, THE DEVIL. The fear of failure often obstructs success—the fear that freezes us in our tracks on a wintry CAPRICORN day—the fear capable of imprisoning or dissolving our dreams.

The Hebrew letter for Key 15, The Devil, is Ayin, with one translation: “the eye as the organ of vision.” Even children discover soon enough that what you see is not always what you get. A can of worms can be wrapped in shiny paper tied with a ribbon. Judging by appearance often leads us away from our goals, far away from the truth and possibilities that lie ahead. Judging in this manner reinforces prejudice, misconception, superstition, envy, jealousy, and greed—the uglies of Key 15 that keep us from being fully healthy and whole. The concepts of the past century could well fail us in our rapidly changing world. It may be time to enlist a snowplow of courage to clear the path before us.

The parent, boss, or authority figure, represented by Key 15 and CAPRICORN, is seldom as awesome or terrible as first seen when we take the time to look beyond the façade at the actual human being, warts and all. Even those who’ve already “arrived” have defects. The comedic aspect of this Key reminds us of the manner in which comedians turn liabilities into assets that may keep them laughing all the way to the bank. So laugh at the devil. Laugh at your fears. Make friends with the shadow side of your nature. Dispel the darkness of your ignorance by waking up to the infinite possibilities of living life more fully each day of the year.

Endeavor to keep one resolution at least part of the time and plan ahead for next year’s resolve. Don’t be afraid to apologize to yourself when the parent within is too tough on the child within. After all, you have a brand new day to clean up your act and chase the bogeyman of doubt, fear and shame far away. Things are never as bad they seem, after all, sometimes they’re worse!

Smile. Laugh. Look beyond the surface. Forgive your mistakes, and correct whatever you possibly can. Throw off the chains that bind you and chase the dark shadows of your lower nature into the bright Light of the day. By taking this advice you may have nothing to gain, except for a renewed sense of your own self worth and bright future filled with endless possibilities!

(This article was featured in The Georgetowner in the 1980s)