Thursday, September 29, 2011

Making Magic Happen-The Magician in the Tarot

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When I was a cheerleader we did a yell that reminds me of the Magician card-it went like this: "Action, action, we want action! A-C-T-I-O-N!!!" This was accompanied by a lot of spirit fingers and spasmatic arm motions that I think we are all better off forgetting. But the yell was used when our team was flagging in energy and strength and needed to do something magical and miraculous to get the game back on our terms and this idea is not too far from the Magician.

When we look at the card we notice a somewhat androgynous looking male figure dressed in red and white. The lemniscate or infinity symbol is floating above his head, his right arm is raised to the sky, his right hand holds a double ended wand and his left hand points down to the earth. Above his head is a swag of roses, around his feet and legs we find more roses and white lilies. An altar is in front of him with 4 items precisely arranged: cup, gold coin or pentacle, dagger, and wand. In ceremonial magical traditions and some Wiccan traditions the knife and cup may be referred to as an athame and chalice respectively. And of course I am referring to the card as we find it in the Rider Waite Smith deck. The background of the Magician is bright yellow-the exact same shade we find as the backdrop for the Fool card and this indicates to us that in some way the Magician is an extension or an outgrowth of the Fool. But of course, there are also differences. For starters, the Magician is much more organized and orderly than the Fool--there are no ripped clothes or barking dogs in this card! There is intention, energy, and ritual purpose in the place of the fool's abandon, wild faith, and courage/foolhardiness. The Magician has channeled the Fool's raw enthusiasm (deriving from the Greek words en Theos meaning "filled with God) and is going to DO something with it.

The tools of his trade are arrayed in front of him indicating that he has all of the resources he requires to do the work he needs to do right at his fingertips. His arms and hands are the most stylized aspect of the card and also the most symbolic--one points up with a double ended wand to heaven--as if summoning or pulling down divine and heavenly energy. The second hand points down towards the earth, as if pulling up the earthly energy of manifestation. These two apparent opposites meet within the core of the magician's body, instilling him with the power to create real change. The center of the lemniscate rests directly above the Magician's head and reminds us of the Word logos descending upon the head of Christ in the form of a sacred dove so that the Word could be made Flesh. The Magician stands at the center of the infinity symbol, able to see what has come before, what comes after, and where his specific place is within the mystery and magic of life. The wise Magician accepts his position and does his work for the greater good of all and for the Truth. The unwise Magician refuses to accept his place, jostles for power, prestige, and control.

Then we have the color play in the card. Our mage is cloaked in red and white and this theme is echoed in the roses and lilies around his feet and legs. The color red is strongly associated the the feminine since ancient times and white is just as strongly associated with men. Roses are associated with the ladies and lilies are associated with men-specifically again Jesus Christ. The colors and the masculine and feminine attributes that they symbolize call our attention to 2 other pairs of opposites we find in the card-heaven and earth, transcendence and immanence. This indicates that the Magician is able to take aspects, energies, and elements that are in some ways naturally in opposition to one another and blend them, creating unity from division. And that in turn brings us to another important feature of the card, the number. In all traditional decks the Magician is assigned the first position, card number one. Unity and unification are the themes behind this numeral. The number one  points to a sense of something higher, eternal, and unified going beyond the apparent duality we see in the world and symbolized by the infinity symbol above the Magician's head.

To recap: The Magician deals with magic and the magical process of transformation. He stands in a unique position where he can view what has come before, what comes after and where his place within this cycle stands. The inner character of the Magician determines how he works with and uses this knowledge--is it for his own personal gain or to be of service to others. He is unique in his ability to unify apparent opposites and he is resourceful and intent upon his work. Connected to both the heavens and the earthly realm, the Magician stands as a Christ figure-suspended between the 2 and serving both.

In divination the Magician card can indicate any combination or all of the following:
--someone involved in the querant's situation may be working in a magical or ritual context to either help or harm the querant
--the querant may do well to seek out the aid of a professional who does perform magical+ritual work
--the querant has magical ability themselves that could be developed
--the querant needs to be aware of someone who is creating an illusion or using their ability to sell illusions to put the querant in a difficult situation (for instance, a con artist could be represented by the Magician card in some readings)
--the querant or someone that the querant is asking about may be leaning too far in one direction and needs to harness the opposite forces in their lives in order to get the picture, book, deal, (fill in the blank with your project here) manifested and solidly real.
Remember in divination that the Magician is ALWAYS an alchemist. His work is to take one thing and through the power of nature and the power of his intellect and will transform it into something else. In some cases this is an improvement, in other cases it is not, but transformation is key.

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