Updated: Nov 25, 2020
What are some key words and images that come to mind when you think of The Magician?
Write these down if it helps acquaint you with the concept.
How I think of it:
I prefer not to think of the cards in terms of good or bad, positive and negative. Sometimes they can be warnings, like STOP signs, and sometimes they can be predictors, or GO signs.
The Magician symbolizes the Divine Will, which is essentially God’s (or as I like to think of it, The Universe's) plan for creation. Beyond potential and intention, it is the decision to manifest or create. Are you ready to allow Divine Will, the spark that ignites manifestation, into your life? Are you ready to live the life you’ve imagined, to move from a state of potential toward action?
I once did a five card spread for an entrepreneur, who felt blocked in achieving success through sales of her product. The middle card, which I often consider a “pivot point,” was the King of Pentacles. I asked her, “Is there a male figure in your life critical of this venture?” She informed me that her father was skeptical of her investment in this business goal. However, the two cards after this were positive; the last card was The Magician. When I looked at the Magician, I saw her - standing behind her table in fairs and events successfully selling her product. Success was possible. She just needed to get past her inner critic and believe.
To emphasize, the “tools” are already inside of your knapsack - within you. The Magician is the light that makes possibility visible, transparent. There is always the choice to deny a call to action. Depending on personal barriers (like the criticism from my client’s father, internalized into her own self-doubt), one may choose, whether consciously or unconsciously, to hang back in the darkness. As they say, knowing is only half the battle.
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” Genesis, chapter 1
This passage from Genesis continues to tell about the process of creation. Physical life is achieved, and God separates the “heavens” from the “earth.” The Magician thus symbolizes, “As above, so below,” by pointing both above, toward the heavens, and below, toward the Earth. The Magician manifests through the power of connecting opposites. This concept can also be explored through study of the yinyang. Perhaps even, the Magician represents the Dao - which, without the division into the ensuing Empress and Emperor, is not generative:
“Dao is a dynamic process, and its dynamism depends both on multiplicity and unity. The unity is what allows things to function well... Oneness (Dao) itself cannot generate anything. The Huainanzi makes this point explicitly: ‘Dao begins in oneness, yet one cannot generate, so it divides into yin and yang. The harmony of yin and yang generates the myriad things.’”
- Robin R. Wang, YINYANG: The way of Heaven and Earth in Chinese Thought and Culture
Here, we see the necessity of deconstruction (or destruction/death) inherent in the process of life which includes, rather than is distinct from, death.
The right hand of the Magician points up toward the heavens (spiritual), and the left hand points down toward the earth (material). Right hand magic practitioners typically work toward renunciation of the physical (desire, earthly pleasure), while left hand practitioners work within the realm of the physical to transmute darkness into light. The difference here is complex, and at the same time it is also illusory, like other binaries. The labels of “good” and “evil” are subjective judgments adhered to by modern civilization. Both paths utilize the same force for an identical aim. Would Saint Francis of Assisi have achieved sainthood if not for what he’d learned during a lifestyle of debauchery? Ambidexterity in magic is also not out of the question.
But I digress.
The role of light from darkness in the creation of the universe is paramount. After the inflation, (the original “Big Bang”) it was not until after hundreds of thousands of years that light emerged. Thus, the Universe existed in the state of potential (The Fool) until light (The Magician) was created.
Furthermore, The Big Bang is continually happening through the process of creation and destruction on a microcosmic level “below”. The process is the same whether micro, or macro. It does not change. Perhaps the origins of the Universe are more discernible in studying life on Earth, than they are in space exploration.
It is not a coincidence that new scientific discovery reflects ancient myth. The knowledge of our own creation is inherent in our cells, and in our collective unconscious. We are formed from the elements; born, literally from Gaia! Studies have been done supporting the theory that memory is stored within the body. Perhaps this fact, rather than mere transmission, plays a role in transgenerational trauma. The child is literally formed from the cells of the parents in which memories are potentially downloaded.
Why would we not know how we were created? Why would we not know our potential, and our true Will? Why would we not be able to manifest?
Try this activity:
Look at your tarot card, and determine what symbols in it resonate with you. If you are advanced, any tarot deck will do. If you're new to tarot, I suggest starting with a variant of the Rider Waite Smith.
Lemniscate - The "infinity" symbol represents the cycle of life and death. The intersection between the two parts of the shape represents both the end of one journey, and the beginning of another. This is the balanced center, the middle path of the initiate. Being above the Magician's head, the lemniscate is the "above" part of the "as above, so below" equation - and the Ouroboros, wrapped around the waist (near the Solar Plexus - responsible for Will, symbolized also by the yellow background), represents the "below" aspect. The Ouroboros (a circle) represents a continuous cycle - the process inherent in existence itself. The Ouroboros also reflects the masculine and feminine, similar to the yinyang. The mouth of the snake represents the womb, which takes in the phallic tail.
Double Tipped White Wand - Also a phallic symbol, the double tip suggests this wand works both ways, again reflecting the idea of unity between the heavens and Earth.
Lillies and Red roses - While the inclusion of both flowers has a wealthy history, just by looking at the card, we can determine meaning with basic symbolic knowledge. A prominent red rose exists near the Magician's root chakra, and the majority of the lillies are a continuation of his white robe. This suggests the alchemical process of achieving the higher self - the philosopher's stone. Furthermore, the lilies exist only "below" - indicating that they are the divine energy channeled from the double tipped white wand. Notice how the white melts like a candle down the arm of the Magician, and ultimately manifests on Earth as the white lilies. (Red of the roses and the robe represent Earthly passion, and the white of the lilies and the under garment represent the divine.)
Table markings - There are three engravings on the edge of the table: waves, flames, and a dove, representing water, fire, and air. The table itself represents Earth. They represent the balance between emotions (cups), passion (wands), intellect (swords), and the table itself represents the manifestation of these on the physical plane. If we think of the four worlds of the Qabalah - it is the process of creation from the immaterial Atziluth, to the kingdom of Malkuth. Something first must start as an idea before being realized.
Do an automatic drawing!
The cool thing about my automatic drawings is that symbolism emerges from them unconsciously. One could say the world of Atziluth is manifesting on the page. Incorporated in the image of "The Seer" are the four elements. The void, beginning, or feminine is marked by empty space or the cosmos (look how it rests above the water, like in the Bible. In another area it exists within an egg). The sun is shining partially in darkness, representing the Will, or Divine spark. The chakras have been included, suggesting the alchemical creation of the self. The third eye represents inner sight, and instead of the lemniscate is a simple circle, denoting eternity. If you look closely, spirits in the sky appear to be whispering Divine knowledge into the Seer's ear.
Do an automatic drawing and #mystic_bluejay! I’d love to see what emerges from your unconscious!
Image 1: Rider Waite Tarot, written by A.E. Waite and illustrated by Pamela Colman Smith, published by the Rider Company
Image 2: The Seeress: The Victorian Fairy Tarot by Gary A. Lippincott
Image 3: The Way of the Fool Tarot by Beatriz Inglessis
Image 4: Art by Mystic Blue Jay