Limitations in the mind are independent of reality
The Symbolism Contained in the Image
In this card the Devil sits on a seat with one hand up and one down echoing the Magician. While the Magician used the wand to connect with the divine, the Devil is using it as a torch pointed towards the Earth and the man's genitalia thus bringing the focus to material and physical pleasures. Look at his other hand - all five fingers are up and the palm is open. The five fingers and the fact that the card bears the number 15 remind of the Five card, the Hierophant. While the Hierophant's hand gesture (two fingers up an two down) suggested that there is more to the universe than what you see, the Devil is saying that there is nothing more than the obvious. His palm bears the astrological glyph for Saturn, a planet associated with limitations and restrictions.
There is a five-pointed star above the head of the Devil. In upright position it represents a person standing firmly on his/her two feet and with the arms on the waist. In reversed position, it indicates that passions (the lower part of the body) dominates over the mind (the top point of the star).
Now turn your attention to the man and the woman on the card. These are the same people we had in the Lovers card but here they are chained. Escape is possible for the chains can be taken off through the head but they do not know it. And that's where the power of the Devil lies - in the belief that no other options exist, no way out, no better future, no deeper meaning.
This card represents a denial of spiritual purpose (the fingers) which leads to focus on the material (torch pointed towards the Earth; five-pointed star) and short-term pleasures (torch highlighting the man's genitalia; five-pointed star) until eventually we become prisoners (the chained lovers) of the circumstances. This, however, is an illusion (the lovers can escape). The prison is only in our minds and we can set ourselves free by returning to the pursuit of our higher purpose.
In a general reading, the Devil represents the belief that you have no better alternatives, that this is all you will ever be or all you will ever have. It suggests the querent feels stuck and powerless which in turn leads to an increased desire for control. You feel restricted but you are unwilling to attempt a change because you do not believe it is possible.
When in reverse, this card indicates that the querent is trying to break free of their mysery or bondage. They are now actively seeking a solution, actively looking for alternatives in order to liberate themselves. The person becomes conscious of the trap he/she is in and begins to reject the current situation.
This card comes out in moments when we feel most aware of the limitations, the shackles, the prisons we find ourselves into. You first need to bring this realisation into your consciousness before you can design a break-away plan so the Devil in reverse can be a particularly painful moment. You clearly see the prison cell, the locks on the doors, the guns of the security guards - you realise how powerless you are and you might feel tempted to try and once again accept the oppressive situation. In which case, you are returning to the upright Devil. The important element here is to remember that, just like with the upright Devil, this prison is much more in your head than it is in your objective reality.
In a relationship reading, the Devil indicates a bond that has become a burden. A love connection that has turned into a trap. The partners continue to exist within it out of habit, routine or obligation. They know they are not in love and not right for one another but they remain committed because they can not imagine that there might be something better for them out there.
Alternatively, it can indicate a relationship based almost entirely on sex and physical pleasures with no feelings or care involved. The Devil can also suggest that one of the partners exhibits a controlling behavior as a way of compensating for the power they feel they lack in the world at large.
Sometimes, the Devil card can suggest that the querent is attracted to someone or is already in a relationship with someone who makes them feel embarrassed and forces them to do things they do not want to do.
In a career reading, the Devil signifies feeling trapped in a job or feeling restricted in some way. Perhaps you are in a dead-end street kind of job or your office politics are hindering your progress. Alternatively, the card can indicate an absorbing ambition that threatens to have you commit deed that would be of questionable ethics and morals.
In reverse, The Devil refers to breaking free from a stagnant situation and actively looking for ways to pour out your creativity. A new realisation of your empowerment has you researching your options and making prison-break plans.
In a financial reading, the card indicates stiffling financial dependability on external factors. You could be unable to set up severla income streams or make any savings or simply be solely dependent on your partner. This feeling of disempowerment creates a self-feeding loop of scarcity mindset that has you questioning if freedom is even possible.
In reverse, the Devil indicates the realisation that liberation is possible and the first stages of looking for alternatives. You could be looking for jobs or for non-traditional ways of generating income.