Shouldering Your Angel and Your Devil: Make Decisions with Tarot and Astrology

Estimated Reading Time: 16 minutes

Make Decisions with the Tarot’s Lovers and Devil Cards

Decisions are the worst. Most people start with a pro and con list, but seriously, if it were that easy you would have already made the decision. You know what’s smart. You know your heart. You’re willing to take a risk. You’re eager to do the work. But these factors aren’t puzzle pieces to simply turn until they lock into position. They are a mosaic, a collage of irregular and sometimes contradictory scraps that you must rearrange into the image of your beautiful life. It’s a heavy load to shoulder! Not to worry, I recently discovered a new process to make decisions with tarot and astrology. What’s weighing you down? Let’s take a look!

I’ve included two free downloadable tarot spreads: “Mercury and Sun Decision Tarot Spread” and “Shouldering Your Angel & Your Devil Tarot Spread” (no astrology needed for this one). Read on to find them!

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Raine Shakti of Tarot of Change knows what I’m talking about. For the mid-spring Tarot Blog Hop, she suggested we write on the Lovers card and the topic of choices. Use the links above or at the end of this post to hear what our other bloggers have to say on the subject!

A Big Decision

I have a big decision bubbling around my brain right now. And as I zoomed in from different angles, I made a very important realization. An understanding of exactly why some decisions are a piece of cake while some are tortuous. Do you have a decision to make? If so, grab your tarot deck and a copy of your birth chart. I’m going to show you how to make decisions with tarot and astrology!

Tarot For Decisions

I’ll tell you a secret. I don’t go to my cards right away. I always eventually consult them! But I like to start with the usual decision-making stuff. You know, thinking about it. Pondering what I want. Talking to the bf and my friends about it. Establishing the pros and cons. The usual stuff. And yes, after having a firm sense of what the sticking points are in the matter, I pull cards.

Choosing Yes

Here’s where it gets interesting. Keep in mind that this is a big decision. I’ve been working on it for several months. I did all the legwork. Discussed it in-depth with Hal. He was a no vote at the end of the initial decision making process. I had acquiesced. But I wanted it. So, I made changes to try to make it an easier yes for Hal.

Now I was closing in on the deadline for the answer. When the time was right, I pulled cards. They were great! I explored it from several angles and got the green light each time. So, I brought it up again with Hal. He said, let’s pull some cards. We did. We phrased two straightforward questions and got two easy-peasy answers. Hal was converted!

You can imagine how thrilled I was! It was a gorgeous day, sunny skies and warm. We went for a walk.

Remember that list of cons I mentioned? All of sudden they all came tumbling down, like a sudden downpour on a sunny day. What a mistake! Why did I ever think I could do this?! And anyway, did I even want it???? No, not at all! I did not want this!

What was going on with me? I am not indecisive. I carefully consider decisions, but when I make them I’m confident. Why this one?

Astrology for Decisions

In the astrological chart, Mercury governs the way we think, learn, process, and speak. It’s place in the chart and relationship to other planets colors how we do these things. Likewise, Mercury’s sign, house, and aspects also guide our decision making process.

My Mercury

I have Mercury in Pisces. Accordingly, my thinking is dreamy and poetic. I tend toward a stream-of-consciousness, non-linear, and emotionally-based communication style. My decisions are, as a general rule, made intuitively. Because my Moon is in a graceful and generous trine to my Mercury, my decisions tend to support my emotional well-being and soul direction. They can equally be based on the whim of my mood. In addition, Mercury is conjoined with one of the benefic planets, Venus, in her exaltation in Pisces. Another bonus! Her cajoling leads me towards romantic and optimistic decisions.

My Decision

The thing I had to make a decision about falls into the fourth house of my chart. This is the place of the living situation, family of origin, and what home feels like. The sign in the fourth house of my chart is Libra. Libra’s attributions are balance, equality, fairness, and well-thought-out decisions. Libra is ruled by Venus, which is conjunct my Mercury. Under these circumstances, it seems likely that she will sweet talk Mercury into choosing the fourth house option.

Seems like Venus is the angel on my shoulder.

Aversion in Astrology

We’ll get to the details in a second, but first I’d like to give you a heads-up on a term used in Hellenistic astrology: aversion. In astrology, aversion refers to the signs in the chart that do not share any common qualities with a given sign. They are not the same gender (yin signs are water and earth; yang signs are fire and air). They are not the same element (fire, air, water, earth). Nor are they the same mode (cardinal, fixed, mutable). There are four signs that are in aversion to any specific sign. The two immediate neighbors and the two signs that are opposite the neighboring signs.

Thing 1: Decision in Aversion to Mercury

What I suddenly realized was that the sign for the area of life I was asking about was in aversion to the sign Mercury was in. The planet of decision making had nothing to say in this matter. Mercury shared no qualities whatsoever with the sign for the area of life I was asking about. My Mercury is in Pisces, which is yin, water, and mutable. The fourth house is my area of concern and the sign there was Libra: yang, air, and cardinal. The sign of my Mercury placement shared nothing with the sign of the decision I had to make. The only thing he knew about that area of life was what Venus was whispering in his ear.

Thing 2: Sun in Opposition to Decision

That’s when I realized thing two. My Sun related to the area of concern, but via contrast and contradiction. The Sun is our core identity, ego, and self-image. Once confused, emotionally-burdened Mercury had made the decision and relaxed, my brash and directive Sun looked over his shoulder and started kibbitzing. My Sun is opposite the part of my chart I had a question about. Interesting that he opposed the idea of me following this option.

Thing 3: Obstacle in Aversion to Mercury

There were a lot of moving parts in this decision. But the primary complication was the second house: money and resources. Guess what. That house is in aversion to the sign of my Mercury as well.

Thing 4: Mercury in Aversion to Sun

Then I realized thing four. Mercury’s never more than one sign away from the Sun. So, you can rely on the fact that the Sun will be in the same sign, or the one before or after, Mercury. We usually refer to Mercury as hanging out near the Sun. But from a decision-making point of view, from Mercury’s point of view, the Sun is usually looking over his shoulder. In fact, if the Sun is in one of the neighboring signs to Mercury’s placement, Mercury is in aversion to the Sun. And when we turn our energy to decision making, the Sun’s influence is in aversion to the decision-making part of us. For those with the Sun and Mercury in neighboring signs, that means our sense of self is resistant to our decisions.

The Sun is the Devil on my other shoulder.

A Couple More Difficulties Mercury Finds Himself In

Oh, and by the way, one more thing. You’re probably thinking: “Hey, I’m good! Mercury is in the same sign as the Sun — no aversion! They get each other.” Me: “Well, honestly, the Sun is still a bit of a bully.” Here’s why.

Mercury is never more than 28 degrees from the Sun. Any planet within 17 degrees of the Sun is “under the beams,” that is, lost in the glare of the Sun’s bright influence. Therefore its power is reduced. Further, any planet within 8 degrees of the Sun is called “combust” which is even worse — the sun burns it up. As a result, the likelihood of Mercury being reduced in power due to being close to the Sun is greatly increased.

There is one ray of hope. If you are lucky enough to have Mercury less than 17 minutes from the Sun (about 1/4 of one degree from the Sun), then it’s “cazimi,” or “in the heart of the Sun,” and that is a very auspicious placement. Woohoo!

So if your Mercury is more than 17 degrees or less than 17 minutes from the Sun, you’re golden. But the other ninety-nine percent of us probably have something wrong with our Mercury that makes it weak above and beyond being in aversion to the Sun. Sheesh.

And this is only a few ways that Mercury can be debilitated. Trust me, there’s more. No wonder communication problems are so universal. And making decisions is so hard!

The Angel and Devil on My Shoulders

The angel in the Lovers card represents Mercury in my chart, my decision making ability -- make decisions with tarot and astrology

So back to the Lovers card. It shows an angel above, with a man below on one side and a woman below on the other. Kind of like the man and woman are the shoulders of the angel. The angel would be Mercury in my chart, the man and woman would be the two neighboring signs. My Sun is one sign to the left of Mercury, so the woman would indicate my Sun.

the tarot devil in contrast to the angel of the Lovers card -- make decisions with tarot and astrology

But what about the sign that represented the area of life for my question? It is opposite my Sun and in aversion to Mercury. Only one answer — that would be the Devil card. Like the Lovers, it shows an elevated central figure with two figures on either side. If I put the two cards end to end, then the area of life I’m asking about is represented by the woman on the Devil card.

Apparently I have an angel and a devil on my shoulders, exhorting me to two different ends.

Your Turn to Make Decisions with Tarot and Astrology

Got your birth chart? Let’s take a look and figure out your decision-making stumbling blocks. Because aversion is a Hellenistic technique, this works best if you use whole sign houses. If you don’t have your birth chart, or want a simpler solution, check out the no-astrology needed “Shouldering Your Angel and Your Devil” tarot spread below.

  1. Locate Mercury in your chart. What sign is it in? How does this describe your decision-making style? Mercury is the Magician card. Check the list below to get some basic keywords for this sign.
  2. What decision do you have to make now? It helps to write it down so you’re clear. Is it a really big, unwieldy, overwhelming one? Great! This process works best for those. Below is a list of the twelve astrological houses. Which house does this decision fit in? It might seem a bit wiggly, but find the best one.
  3. Note which four signs are in aversion to the sign your Mercury is in. Does your decision fit into one of these four houses? I’m curious to know the answer! (You can let me know in the comments.)
  4. Locate the Sun in your chart. What sign is it in? Based on the Sun’s sign, how can you describe your core identity? The Sun is the Sun card. The list below offers some basic keywords for this sign.
  5. Is the Sun in the same sign as your Mercury or in aversion? Is Mercury under the Sun’s beam, combust, or cazimi?
  6. What’s the primary complication or obstacle to making this decision? Using the list of houses below, determine which house the obstacle fits in.

Take notes based on these six considerations. Does looking at Mercury and the Sun in your chart give you insight into your decision itself or your decision-making process?

If you like, pull cards for the Sun (Sun card) and Mercury (Magician) and the relevant signs and houses (see lists below). Group the cards to approximate the placements in your chart. What new insight does this give you?

Click the image to open a pdf you can download and print.

Astrology Planets Cards and Keywords

  1. Moon, High Priestess. Your private self, emotions, intuition.
  2. Mercury, Magician. Your communication, thoughts, and how you make decisions.
  3. Venus, Empress. How, who, and what you love, your sense of beauty and harmony.
  4. Sun, Sun. Your core identity, self-image, ego. The hero.
  5. Mars, Tower. Your warrior side, ambition, energy, drive, anger, what you fight for.
  6. Jupiter, Wheel of Fortune. Your leadership, generosity, optimism, philosophy.
  7. Saturn, World. Your boundaries, limitations, discipline.
  8. Uranus, Fool. The unexpected.
  9. Neptune, Hanged Man. The nebulous, escapism, spirituality.
  10. Pluto, Judgment. Death and rebirth, transformation, control.

Astrological Signs Cards and Keywords

  1. Aries, Emperor. Courageous, initiating, charismatic, pioneering
  2. Taurus, Hierophant. Comfort-oriented, stable, values luxury, conservative
  3. Gemini, Lovers. Pursues intelligence, adaptable, quick-witted, social
  4. Cancer, Chariot. Maternal, nurturing, intuitive, compassionate, domestic, imaginative
  5. Leo, Strength. Dramatic, confident, noble, flamboyant, in the spotlight
  6. Virgo, Hermit. Precise, detailed, service-oriented, values perfection
  7. Libra, Justice. Balanced, partner-oriented, fair-minded, diplomatic
  8. Scorpio, Death. Passionate, intense, transformative, private, deep, psychic, death and rebirth
  9. Sagittarius, Temperance. Exploratory, integrative, philosophical, enthusiastic, questing, adventurous, quick
  10. Capricorn, Devil. Practical, dependable, disciplined, systematizing, determined, authoritative, dutiful
  11. Aquarius, Star. Revolutionary, community-oriented, idealistic, humanitarian, abstract, theoretical
  12. Pisces, Moon. Empathic, sensitive, spiritually-oriented, mystic

Astrological Houses Cards and Keywords

The Golden Dawn applies the court cards to the houses, so I’ve included those attributions below.

  1. First House, Queen of Wands: Self, appearance, physical body
  2. Second House, King of Coins: Money, possessions, resources
  3. Third House, Knight of Swords: Siblings, neighbors, primary education
  4. Fourth House, Queen of Cups: Where you live, family of origin, what home feels like
  5. Fifth House, King of Wands: Children, creativity, your legacy
  6. Sixth House, Knight of Coins: Daily routines, food, health, pets
  7. Seventh House, Queen of Swords: Marriage, partnerships, clients
  8. Eighth House, King of Cups: Other people’s money, death, inheritance, how people invest in you
  9. Ninth House, Knight of Wands: Travel, higher education, publishing, religion, divination
  10. Tenth House, Queen of Coins: Career, public reputation, what you are recognized for
  11. Eleventh House, King of Swords: Friends, community, patrons, gifts
  12. Twelfth House, Knight of Cups: Spirituality, gestation literally and figuratively, exile, hospitals, prisons, enemies

Shouldering Your Angel and Your Devil Tarot Spread

No Astrology Needed!

I’ve got you covered! No astrology needed for this spread. Just six positions to get to the heart of this decision and why it’s got you flummoxed.

Card 1: How I make decisions. We’ll start with the basics. Explore this card to get a feel for what your usual decision-making process is like.

Card 2: The decision I have to make. Just what it says — the card that lands in this position will describe your decision. How accurately does it reflect it? If it doesn’t seem right, could you perhaps not be as clear as you think you are?

Card 3: Main obstacle. This card shows the primary complication. What does this card tell you about this obstacle that you didn’t already know? How does it give you a fresh perspective?

Card 4: Lovers, the angel on your shoulder. This card is whispering in your ear, saying you know you want it. What is the argument? How does this card relate to the others around it? What does that say about how this rationale fits into the overall situation?

Card 5: Devil, the devil on your shoulder. This card is officious and demanding, manipulating you into choosing its way. What is the basis of its argument? Is it offering a reality check, or just browbeating you? Compared to the other cards in the spread, does it make sense, or seem out of place?

Card 6: The Devil’s Gift. Sometimes, the devil on our shoulder is stating the truth about the difficulties of doing something. But remember, choosing a difficult path is not necessarily foolish. Your angel wants the best for you, and your devil is honest about the challenges that lie ahead. If you follow your dream, what ultimate gift will you receive? What surprising but inevitable benefit lies from taking on the devil’s challenge?

Click the image to open the free downloadable tarot spread sheet.

It’s Your Choice

Stay here or hop on to the next blog! But before you go, I’ve got a question for you. Did you take a look at your chart? If so, was your difficult decision in aversion to your Mercury? I’d love to know! Please share in the comments. And if you chose the tarot spread, I’d love feedback on that as well. You always have a choice!

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Joy Vernon
Joy Vernon

Joy Vernon is widely recognized as an expert tarot teacher and respected community leader. With over twenty-five years’ experience teaching energetic and esoteric modalities, Joy brings expertise and practiced familiarity to her specialty of esoteric tarot, which layers astrological and qabalistic symbolism onto the traditional tarot structure. Under her leadership, the Denver Tarot Meetup grew into one of the largest and most active tarot-specific meetups in the world. Now Joy runs the Greater Seattle Tarot Meetup. Joy works as a tarot reader, astrologer, and teacher in Burien, Washington. To learn more, please visit JoyVernon.com.

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3 Comments

  1. Every hop I am amazed at your depth of knowledge and how effortlessly you put it across. This is no exception, so glad the hops have been resurrected 🙂

  2. Hi Joy,

    Thanks for a walk through your decision making process. I am not adept at astrology, but your spread above really makes me want to learn so I can compare the two spreads and the guidance provided. Looking forward to continuing to hop with you.

  3. WOW!! That was such an interesting spread and process! Thank you for walking us through this. I learned so much about astrology and tarot in your post.

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