Looking Within is a series that explores the symbols and meanings associated with tarot cards and how they can be used as tools for growing and evolving. Read the whole series here!
“When we look at the Magician those of us who feel a lack or a flatness in our lives will be drawn to the wand raised towards heaven. But the real magic rests in that finger pointing to the earth.” – Rachel Pollack
Once you open a tarot deck, you enter a world you’ve never seen before. (But you’ve actually known it all along.) This is a place whose language is made of symbols and whose location is within all of us and yet different for everyone. And the one welcoming us in, the one who’s making the introductions, is the Magician.
But what exactly is their “magic”? Why are they the ones opening the deck?
Well, let’s start from what we know. In our language, the magician is someone with powers that seem to be supernatural, that is, not of the “ordinary” world. (Think of witches and sorcerers.) At the same time, the magician is also someone who performs tricks and illusions, often thanks to their sleight of hand. Even in their case, though, the final result is magic – something impossible, extra-ordinary, always awesome.
Another common element of both magicians is that they have skills. Depending on her path, the witch knows magickal laws, herbology, knot magick, rune casting and so forth; she knows how to cast a circle and call in the elements and the deities. The illusionist knows how to use his hands, body and voice to hide the trick and focus the audience’s attention, but also the different properties of light, substances, and materials, and how to blend them together in his act.
In Kris Waldherr’s The Goddess Tarot deck, the Magician is Egyptian goddess Isis. She was a great mage, armed with a vast knowledge as well as a smart mind, which she used to trick her fellow god Ra into giving her his secret name. The story of her love for Osiris and their son Horus is a tale of magic, sacrifice, and above all else determination – a perfect example of what the Magician can achieve. As Waldherr wrote, this card is all about “awareness of the magic within yourself.”
They don’t just have knowledge and skills; they know how to use them creatively, thus achieving mastery. They are masters of their tools, and especially of the most important one, the mind. To achieve their mastery, they had to work deeply and constantly on their skills and knowledge. This required developing a strong will and self-discipline, so to avoid all distractions, and a certain clarity of thought, so to understand what was most important for their field.
The magician is a conscious creator, and their magic comes from intention.
Traditional imagery shows the magician holding a wand up in the air with one hand, while pointing at the earth with the other. The wand is a symbol of fire, an element connected to creativity, energy, the spirit, and will. In their hands, it becomes a channel that allows the magician to guide their magic into the outward reality of the earth. The other elements too are often present in the background, suggesting their ability to manipulate all aspects of life. Carrie Mallon added how these symbols tell us the magician is “attuned to the dynamic nature of life.”
Lastly, the magician is a symbol of potential. We are all born with a unique blend of talents, traits, and values that make up our magic. This blend can go in different directions; it will take a lifetime to choose how and where this magic will manifest itself. Yet, only by using our will are we able to manifest in into the world. Armed with will and intention, we become an unstoppable, creative force, active co-creators of our life together with the world. The first step in achieving anything is to want it. This is why the Magician has to be the one opening the deck – no journey can start without us willing to do it first.
Our will is our magic: this is the message of the magician. We can be distracted by sensations, overwhelmed by emotions, muddled with thoughts, and yet we can always choose to either identify with them or understand that we are something more.
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” – Viktor E. Frankl
As the magician works every day to improve their skills, so we too come into contact with our inner magician by exerting our will in our daily life. Choosing between two options, focusing on our housework instead of letting the mind wander, developing a habit, resisting the impulse to check our phone for five minutes… there are a thousand ways we learn to use our will. If we want to live our life at our fullest, we have to want to do it. This is the secret of the magician.
- What assumptions do you have about will? What do you usually associate will with?
- What aspects of the magician speak more to you?
- Think about a time when your will was ignored. How did you feel it (in your body, mind, heart)? How did you react? What did it teach you?
- How did the expectations of your family/friends/culture impact your will?
- In what ways can you start reclaiming your will? Can you think of some first steps you could take to contact this quality?
- For the vision boarders/visualizers/imaginative: how would your life change if you had more will?
If you have already done some visualizations before, you can use one of these images of the Magician (or look for one you like on the internet) to contact this aspect within yourself.
Sit in a comfortable positions, take some deep breaths, and when you are ready close your eyes.
Enter into the image and look at the Magician. Observe how they feel, and how you feel in their presence. Observe what they do or say. If you wish, you can ask them for a gift or a word, something that could help you connect with them in the future.
Once you want to leave, thank them for their presence. Take a few breaths, move your body, then open your eyes. Write everything down.
The deck featured in this post is the Rider-Waite tarot deck (also known as Waite-Smith).
Do you have thoughts or doubts bothering you? Do you just want to vent? Ask Box is the place where you can drop your questions about life, the universe and everything. My inbox is always open – email me at email@example.com.