The Devil Card: Conditioning/Fear
The Osho Zen Tarot
Original Writing by Kathryn Ravenwood
In the above image we see a lion wrapped in a sheep’s skin. Raised as part of the flock he became conditioned to act, think, and behave like a sheep. Too big now, and very much looking like a lion, the false identity no longer fits him. What will happen as he becomes aware of his lion-ness? Will he turn on the sheep who innocently flock around him? Will he continue to be accepted by them once they recognize him as a traditional and potential enemy?
Our fears are like the lion. Over the years we have become conditioned to hide them beneath layers of disguise. We have allowed the “wool to be pulled over our eyes” and have taken shelter in a flock behavior of conforming, adapting personalities to cope or fit in. We have succumbed to addictions, destructive habits, living with illusions and immersing ourselves in denial. We can go along like this for years until something forces us to wake up. A crisis happens; we experience a terrible betrayal; a severe health or financial challenge forces us to deal with present time and reality. Then our fears come raging through like a wild beast and we feel like the slaughtered lamb.
What happens when our sheep-skin defenses fall away and reveal us as a lion? Will we turn on ourselves or others in savage attack? Do we cower amongst the sheep and pretend nothing has changed? Or could the mighty courage of the lion/lioness we are in our heart rise above the conditioning and become a leader and champion of our fearful self or those around us?
From early on in life we are programmed to conform, to not ask questions, to hide uncomfortable and disturbing parts of life under fluffy layers of denial that keep us from facing fears as well as the strength we have to deal with them.We have become conditioned to a way of life, a way of believing, a way of acceptance. We get tired of fighting for the cause. We give up on relationships because they are too painful, expensive, and depleting. We endure old patterns of abuse from family and friends who cannot see us as any differently than we were defined by them at childhood or at the time we formed a friendship. Past failures have stifled our creativity and confidence and we have just come to accept less. All these factors become lingering fears covered with layers of disguise.
Once our lion awakens and that power is realized we have the opportunity to face our fears, to look at ourselves in this new form. The behaviors and patterns that served the sheep no longer fit the lion and must be cast off. We can take responsibility for our life and our dreams. Hopefully we are also filled with compassion for our old sheep-self. After all, that sheep skin did offer vital protection when it was needed.
Fear is not going away and is a great ally to us. Fear tells us, “Hey! Wake up and look out!” as it alerts us to danger. Fear will trip us up and knock us down to be sure we pay attention to something right under our noses rather than turn the other way and ignore the warning. Fear calls us to gather information and knowledge. The worst thing to do is to attack ourself or someone else who is afraid. True power comes with compassion as well as sometimes having to make tough choices. We can listen to fear, heed its warning, and then make decisions based on love. Self love. Love of the planet. Love of our family and friends, Love of our communities. And we can use knowledge and strength to implement change.
The Devil card calls us to face our fears, to embrace the shadow parts of our selves that have not yet been able to come to the Light. It is about freeing ourselves from the chains of unconscious programming that keeps us locked into patterns of deception and self destruction. Remember the DEVIL is LIVED spelled backwards. When we are wrapped in layers of fear we are not really living.
Awaken your lion! Embrace your courage, your compassion, and love your life.
...Kathryn Ravenwood 3/22/2020