Continuing in this series of following each tarot card from one to the next, the next card to look at is the Magician. As card 1: this is the first card to start the forward progression of the Majors.
In this blog post, and also in the podcast episode, I want to emphasize the beauty of the Magician, and the important invitations that come with this card. I want to talk about some symbolism across card images and why the Magician starts out the progression as card 1.
I also want to share some insight that I find helpful from different sources to layer the narrative. Finally, I want to share how I read into this card, and give you the invitations straight from my key.
As card 1, the Magician places the marker on the Majors and says from here…onward. The Magician points to the sky and says, “There you are because here I am.” The Magician doesn’t pull the rabbit out of the hat, the Magician sees the intrinsic magick in both, but also sees the magick in combining, connecting, and interweaving magickal things together.
Opening to Collective Magick with the Magician
The Magician is card 1, the first one with a numerical association, beginning the narrative or layout of numerical progression from one card to the next within the Majors. As discussed in the blog post on the Fool, which you can read here, the Fool is the homecoming of presence, the moving of thresholds and boundaries to wherever you are in this moment, connecting to the wild adventure that makes up your being. So, if that is the Fool as card 0, and then we move on to card 1- beginning the journey of our magick and wild reclamation, we must start with the Magician. That is why it is card 1.
Why? Because the Magician is the card that wakes us up to the magick within and around us. The Magician is the card that comes forward for you and says, “Your wild spirt is an adventure, and like any beautiful adventure, it is full of magick.” Once you drop into the presence within from the Fool, you can become attuned to the magick within you with the Magician. You can feel and touch the magick and wild parts of yourself that are brimming with ethereal energy, that illuminate like the Moon, that vibrate the bones like the howl of a wolf.
Not only can you feel and touch into the sacred magick within, you become aware and awake to the sacred and wild magick that is all around you. You sense how your magick is part of something much bigger, and how it all plays a role in the vast connection of energy. To put it into a metaphor, if you were to look at a healthy ecosystem in nature you would see that tshe health comes from a divine balance of millions of living things. From atoms and molecules, to bugs and fungus, to plants and water, to prey and predator- all play a role in the magick of the ecosystem. All things have their own unique and individual magick, but it is the combination of individual into the collective that highlights the sublime and sacred truth- magick is within and around everything. Once you become aware of this, you can start to manifest, create, and honor this truth in all the things you do, big and small.
It follows that the next way to read the Magician when it comes forward in a reading is that it speaks to channeling from both the wild, primal parts of you along with the higher, sophisticated parts to manifest. The Magician speaks to using the spectrum of yourself to manifest something into a direction forward. Remember, we are working with the number 1. From a numerology standpoint, this speaks to energies of drive, determination, leadership, independence, and freedom.
From a tarot perspective, we would liken the Magician to the Aces, which are all about beginnings, starting points, possibilities, seed-space, opportunities, and potentials. The Magician asks you to manifest a new beginning. The Magician asks you to use the spectrum of yourself, with all your beautiful, unique magick to manifest something new and creative with determination, connection, and drive. It is important to remember that the Magician speaks to using the spectrum of yourself from animal-human-angel. These are all divine. These are all worthy. These are all part of your magick.
The final key point from my tarot key is that, like mentioned with the Fool, the Magician says that you can only have creation and connection to the magick within and around you when you come into the conscious presence of self and situation. This means consciously awakening to the self, to the situations that you are in, and how you are a part of the conscious creation of the world. This may include becoming aware to some harsh truths, hardships, or shadows within and around. This is part of the magick. This is part of that spectrum. The Magician does not encourage your magick to be only in the love and in the light.
The Magician encourages you to use your magick to consciously create a new beginning. The Magician encourages you to use your magick to consciously connect to the internal and external world, to the light AND the shadow. The Magician says that what happens in spirit happens in the body, what happens in the light happens in the dark, and that what happens on the highest energies also happens on the lowest.
One thing that you will see in almost all tarot depictions is a reference to the top of the card, and one to the bottom. Looking at the two pictures above, you see on the left-hand side a raven with one wing raised above, and one pointing below. The same is true with the picture on the right and on the table (another symbol you will see often) are the words As Above, So Below. This phrase is key to many witches, practitioners, or those who study the occult. Paraphrased from the Emerald Tablet (an ancient Hermetic text from the Hellenistic Period, and attributed to Hermes Trismegistus, that is believed to provide the foundational narrative of alchemy in all forms), the term As Above, So Below can be deciphered in many ways, but it generally means that what happens in the space of spirit, the cosmos, or the heavens also happens in the world of the human, the mundane, the physical. If you believe in God, this phrase would speak to the belief that everything is made in the image of God. If you believe in Divinity without religion, this phrase would speak to the belief that divinity is to be found in the world here, and the world beyond us.
What does this have to do with the Magician? Everything.
The reason we see this reference of As Above, So Below, either symbolically or physically in words, is because the Magician says that the magick that is above you is the same magick that is in you. The magick you channel to manifest something comes from the Divinity in spirit, and is channeled to the realm of the physical. It is all cyclical between invisible and visible, spirit and human, which is why you will also see the Lemniscate (infinity symbol) in the Magician card. It speaks to the same thing.
The Magician in Card Depictions, Literature, and Resources
So, we have talked about some of the main things we see in the Magician card: a reference to the phrase As Above, So Below, and the Lemniscate, but let’s talk about some more. Another motif that is common in depictions of the Magician is the reference to the four Minors through their tokens. The table (mentioned earlier) will usually have the four tokens of the Minors on the table- indicating that the Magician is about tangibly and physically doing the work of manifesting. Magick is tactile. It is fluid and energetic, yes, but it is also about using the resources of the here and now to make that magick come to life, and to honor the energy behind it.
In the pictures above, you see a Raccoon (a highly tactile animal that uses its fingers and keen sense of touch to understand the world around it), with the four tokens. Touching the wand ignites it, and electricity sparks down from above. The Sun is behind the Raccoon as a key symbol. The Sun appears often in Magician depictions- speaking to both energies of creation and manifestation, but also illumination, force of will, and vitality.
The Tarot of Dragons depiction highlights the alchemy and physical channeling of divine and spiritual energies. The cup holds the water and fire to create the steam which births the pearl of wisdom, indicating yet again multiple things. One, that Divinity is in the spiritual world and the physical one. Two, that magick needs to be channeled through both determination and physicality to manifest.
While not speaking specifically to the Magician card, I think this piece from the Encyclopedia of 5,000 Spells by Judika Illes highlights the energy behind the Magician.
Judika Illes highlights how magick is the primordial form of science. It has evolved obviously, and today many people believe that science and magick are completely separate. I would argue differently. Magick was the first form of science and art because it was how our earliest ancestors showed up in a brutal world and survived.
She goes on to say that this all stemmed from the awe from creation, especially human creation. Our early ancestors revered this sacred creation because survival in that brutal world was so completely unknown. There was so much to be discovered in the world that human creation created a physical and sacred thread to the Earth, to each other, and to the great unknowns.
The Magician speaks to the same thing. The Magician says you here on this earth is the most beautiful form of magick. Now…what will you do with it? The Magician speaks to showing up and manifesting authentically by recognizing what magick is here, and channeling it through conscious connection, directing your will and focus towards that end you seek. The Magician from the Herbcrafter’s Tarot shows a giant Sunflower, with two leaves again pointing up and downward. Four small charms speak to the Minors tokens, here as Kettles (Cups), Baskets (Pentacles), Mortars (Wands), and Bolines (Swords). A ring of sunflower seeds forms an infinity symbol in the top right corner. The Magician is the Sunflower here because all of the magick in the world exists within each seed, and when you allow the seeds to spread and take root and bloom, that is the manifestation of magick happening in real time.
This definition of the Magician from the book Tarot and Tequila by David A. Ross nicely wraps up the energies of the Magician in an easy to understand way. One of the things that I love about this definition is that he highlights the need for authenticity with the Magician, which is vital to reading this card. The Magician is not about just copying a recipe, embodying an energy, performing a spell, or showing up as another magickal being.
The Magician is also about understanding how you are part of the divinity of the world, but only because you are uniquely you. No one else can be you. That is part of the beauty of creation. Through the same process of creation, so much diversity and individuality is to be formed. That is part of the numerology of 1, a sense of self-individuation that drives and leads you in creative freedom.
That is why I wanted to include the Magician from the The Wild Unknown in correlation to this meaning and reference. First of all, this image is just stunning. I mean….
However, I wanted to share it here because one of the things I love about this depiction is how it highlights the spectrum that was mentioned before. A leopard uses its spots to camouflage itself and hide, and yet there is that famous saying, “A leopard never changes its spots.” The very thing that allows the leopard to hide is also that which marks the leopard in unique variety. The leopard stands out because of its spots when not concealed, and each pattern is uniquely different, highlighting the spectrum and the uniqueness needed with the Magician.
A Tarot Card Representation of the Magician
I have shown a lot of different depictions of the Magician in this blog (almost all within my collection), but those depictions had a lot of similar symbolism to highlight the fingerprint of the Magician card as it is known in tarot understanding. For this representation, I wanted to highlight one depiction that is so different, and also probably my favorite.
The Magician from the Hush Tarot shows a woman who has removed the head of a wolf and has unleashed the energetic power of the beast. Her understanding of the inner energy allows her to channel it into her space, bridging the space between animal and enlightened, just like the guidebook in the right hand image says.
This depiction highlights how the spectrum of magick is both / and in nature. Sometimes you need to unleash the beast. Sometimes you need to apply grace and restraint. Most of the time it is finding a balance of the two, and channeling that towards your desired end, whatever it may be.