Face Up Tarot: the Devil’s recipes


I love journaling. Have since puberty. Night after night I’d clutch the binding of a journal and scribble furiously for hours. There were things I needed to say. It was my way to say them. I wasn’t always willing to talk to people. But I wrote until my finger joints ached; until my hands grew calluses; until I needed an unending supply of journals.

Writing was self-medication before I knew I needed it. Especially important in a body with extreme sensitivity to subtle changes – in hormones, in nerves, in thoughts. Every little shift was world-altering. So it comes as no surprise that I was ogling journals on Instagram this week. Why hadn’t I done it sooner?

Journaling. Yes. The counterpart to my planning obsession. Bullet Journaling. Oh, now THIS is interesting. I stumbled on a photo – the recipe for a well-balanced day. I took an immediate interest. I’ve meant to develop morning and evening practices. Because I’ve noticed that the brackets of my day, the beginning, and end, carry more weight than the other parts. It’s a feature of adrenal fatigue and hormonal imbalance. It can be hard to sleep, wake, and digest.

Finding Willingness

I’ve been knowing-it-all for months, maybe even years. I knew that a morning practice would help. I knew that waking and eating earlier would too. But for some reason, the willingness to do these things wasn’t there until I saw this new thing on Instagram – the Bullet Journal. Absolute design-geek porn.

Maybe it was the dopamine rush: I want this thing, to make this thing, to feel this feeling I’m feeling now but longer. Polished. Sleek. Able. Powerful. All this over pen-sketched lines on what looks like bound graph paper.

It doesn’t matter that I’m no design major. It doesn’t matter that my handwriting looks written by a person raised in elementary schools where most children couldn’t read or write. Apparently, I want to feel like a design major armed with beautiful penmanship, fancy pens, an empty journal, and plans. Life Recipes. This is enough to lead me to willingness.


Life Recipes

I grab a sheet of paper from my collection of scrap. Because I know I don’t need to buy-the-thing to feel the way I want to feel. I grab a patently un-fancy marker, and I sit with my eyes closed. There go my eyelids swallowing the light. There I am, being breathed. There’s my well-balanced day in my mind’s eye; playing out from bed to bed. I feel it all – the space, the ease, the emotional rush these things would cause. I feel it just imagining it.

This is the Devil card.

Like dopamine through neurons. The signal carried from body to brain and back again. The bone-deep desire and its fulfillment. Lightning fast. Often without awareness. The invisible string by which we are pulled toward our desires – to be polished, sleek, able. The pull toward power. Devil-card energy can give me a boost just the same as it can get me stuck. It’s the prison of a belief that there’s nothing we can do. It’s the energy to take action.

I sketch out my recipe for a balanced day.


Seven things make up balance. I always return to sevens. The number in the Chariot, the number that the Tower reduces to.  A number of triumph and transformation. After listing these seven things, I brainstormed a list of at least 10 actions that fulfill each category. I decided on a particular action each. Then, because I had the energy, I lived this list for seven days.



I noticed which parts were natural – why haven’t I done this before – and which parts felt hard. Evenings are hard. The transition from wakefulness to rest. I want playtime at sunset. It seems like the time to look for lit screens, loud sounds, and adrenaline spikes. But still, I did my best and followed the recipe. Inching toward bliss. Inching toward consciousness. Inching toward power.

I’m leaving out the part where I had already learned and practiced multiple kinds of meditation. The days and days of practice I had, writing the most important tasks for the day (focus). The part where I spent hours looking for audiobooks and podcasts to stream (fill) during my morning walks (movement).  I’ve been collecting systems of self-care for a solid decade, and I’ve been thinking about daily rituals since the start of the year.

Even with all that intentionality, it still took me eight months to make a big change.  That last sentence is as misleading as the Devil card. Because the Devil isn’t about one big change. It isn’t an earthquake taking the tower down. It’s a prisoner picking at bricks until the light gets in. It’s seeing light through the cracks for months and continuing to dig. It’s  smelling freedom. Until one day there aren’t enough bricks to keep you anymore. The Devil card is the feeling of power when you notice you are free to choose.

The Devil card is a journal. A hypnosis script. That tasty treat. Shame about your handwriting. A walk. A book to read. That coffee. Things you want and things you need and things your body does.

What lives in the way of your light?
Answer in the comments
Or tweet me @siobhansmirror with #faceuptarot


Something about fall causes me to lean into my less than mindful habits. Maybe you can relate? I wrote about addiction and the Devil card at my blog. In that post I talk about awareness practices I’ve tried and one I created based on the Devil Card. I’m finally getting around to writing that book I promised in my newsletter. The one with awareness practices and rituals to use with your tarot deck. Keep in touch and I’ll let you know when it’s done.

Featured deck: The Gaian Tarot by Joanna Powell Colbert Schiffer 2016

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  1. Oh Leonie…
    I recently discovered bullet journalling as well, and wondered how I could integrate it with her system, such as it is. I’ve still not figured it out. Journalling, for me, comes in fits and starts.

    I hear you on the large-scale change, and on the multitude of tiny pieces that it takes to get there. It reminds me of how a journey of miles begins with single steps.

  2. rachelc says:

    I can totally relate to this. I recently started journaling, not exactly bullet journaling, but that provided a lot of inspiration as I started to track daily habits, food, and my mental health. It has helped me develop my morning routine and I’ve been incorporating my tarot practice into it as well. I love your perspective on how The Devil card can be useful here. I just recently did a reading for myself and was unsure how The Devil card I pulled as “the lesson” fit in. I love this interpretation you’ve written here, it’s very helpful!

  3. Well done, Siobhan! This was a wonderful read and you caught my attention with a card from my favorite deck. Journal Julie that I am, I freely confess that the leather journals caught my attention, as well. Thank you for sharing your inspiration and insight.

  4. Nikk says:

    I recently pulled the devil reversed with the tower (in a small but important spread) & have been looking for insight into that reading. This was enormously helpful to me:

    “It isn’t an earthquake taking the tower down. It’s a prisoner picking at bricks until the light gets in. It’s seeing light through the cracks for months and continuing to dig. It’s smelling freedom. Until one day there aren’t enough bricks to keep you anymore. The Devil card is the feeling of power when you notice you are free to choose.”

    Thank you for the insight <3

  5. Karalyn Grimes says:

    This post spoke to me on a profound level. The Devil is my birth card and I have spent the last few months feeling out what it means to me and how it operates in my life. I too am an obsessive journaler + planner with countless notebooks filled with life recipes, and I too am navigating lack of feeling powerful and able but with bursts of these moments. I do not have it all sorted out in the least–but this article gave me a restored hope, thank you!

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