This week’s Harrow card, The Rakshasa, is one to watch out for. On the card, we see a strange creature with the body of a human and the head of a crocodile. It’s dressed in a sharp business suit, and it sits calmly with a cup of tea in one hand. A pair of glowing red eyes regards the viewer with unnerving intensity. Most disturbing of all, the creature sits atop the prostrate form of a naked human.
The rakshasa in the Harrow is a creature based on the demonic shapechangers of Hindu legend, but it is distinct from those beings in several ways. The rakshasa is possessed of a malicious cunning and a skill for deception. Its card comes from the suit of Books, which corresponds to intelligence. In the legends of the Harrow deck itself, the rakshasa takes the form of an old man who comes to a village asking for hospitality in exchange for knowledge and wisdom. After receiving food, drink, and lodging from the villagers, he asks them to bow and serve as a place to rest himself, and the villagers comply, having been awed by his intellect and advice.