Abracadabra! The Magician 🙂
The Efflorescent Tarot’s magician has the four suit symbols laid out on a cloth in front of her. She wears her magician’s hat and has a little rat/mouse friend perched on her shoulder. Behind her is a shelf full of different items: skulls, books, flowers, a snake, jars, dice, crystals, eggs, a candle. A thorny rose bush grows above the shelf. One of these days I’d like to go through the rest of the deck and see where else these same items show up.
Her attention is focused on the suit elements laid out in front of her. This could symbolize her balanced control over each of the elements: fire, earth, air, and water. Where the fool was happily aimlessly wandering, the magician has power and control. As the thorny roses may symbolize, this power can be used for good (constructively) or bad (destructively). The flowers can also symbolize the need to remain grounded.
The Magician doesn’t only have control over the four elements; she also is able to harness the spiritual. Huszka’s Gypsy Palace Tarot mimics the traditional RWS portrayal of The Magician in that he points with one hand up toward the heavens and the other toward the earth. In fact, in this portrayal, one hand holds a bone (earth, mortality), and the other reaches toward a star (divine, infinite). The Raven in the Animal Wisdom Tarot points up with one wing and down with the other as well. Rachel Pollack in The New Tarot Handbook says this can stand for not only “as above, so below,” but “as within, so without” (20). And while the infinity symbol is not present in any of my decks on this card, the traditional RWS card shows a sideways figure eight above the head of The Magician. Pollack explains that the infinite doesn’t necessarily stand for all that is unending, but for what we “experience in special moments” (19). Moments of intense excitement and inspiration.
Paul Quinn in Tarot for Life points out that the word “I” and the Roman numeral “I” are the same and that “they both represent what is primary and singular” (40). The Magician has a sense of self, but is also able to bring together the conscious and unconscious, spiritual and earthly. And in many ways, the power of our thoughts can alter our reality. I’m not going to win the lottery if I think about it hard enough, but I can become more balanced in my elemental energies when I consciously think of it, and I can shift my perspective on a situation which can change my entire experience of it. This is kind of “magical”!
The shadow of The Magician could be assuming you have more power than you really do, or of using the power for ill.
I think it is really interesting that in the Animal Wisdom Tarot, the coyote is The Fool and in the Animism Tarot, the coyote is The Magician.
If I were to assign an element to The Magician, I think it would be air. Even though all four elements are represented in this card, The Magician has the knowledge necessary to harness the power of the elements and of spirit and earth to be a creative/constructive force. The Animal Wisdom Tarot reflects this in the raven (bird, air) representing The Magician.
I think for a very long time I overestimated my own powers. I thought I could control the people around me. Not in a manipulative way; as in managing and being “responsible” for the emotions and actions of those around me. That was my role growing up. It was an awful job that I obviously failed at every day. A lot of therapy happened before I finally accepted the truth of “the only person I can control is myself.” And with my own elemental energies so out of balance, how could I have been of real help to anyone else? I was a child, and someone should have been caring for me. But they weren’t, so I’ve learned this lesson the hard way.
But now that I have relinquished responsibility for the feelings and behaviors of others I am finally getting on the project of balancing my own life. And it is actually really empowering. All that time I felt responsible for everyone else, my own life/self felt totally out of control. It’s a novel and fascinating idea that I could influence my own life. What a wild idea! Now that I feel this power, every day I start by mentally laying out the four elements and assessing where I’m at. That doesn’t mean I do a good job of taking care of all of them, but I’m practicing. I’m the magician of my own life, and it’s a pretty exciting power to have.