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78 Weeks of Tarot: The Magician


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For information on what these threads refer to, see this thread;


78 Weeks of Tarot - Informational Thread


The above linked thread gives suggested dates for the cards as well as links to the individual topics.


Some of us may be working through the study in a different order and using different decks. If you have general questions or comments regarding the 78 Weeks of Tarot study group, please post in the topic in the above link.


Have fun.

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Deck: Fairytale Tarot


Card name: The Magician


First impressions:


This is a recognizable magician -- adult male, arms in the “as above, so below” position, an audience -- but there are some puzzling differences from the RWS traditional image. He is dressed oddly. He wears a red tunic with a strange woven green bottom. Over that is a light green robe with a leaf or flower pattern. He also wears a separate dark green hood-like garment that covers his head and upper back. With his upward stretching right hand, he looks at and reaches for a bright multi-colored fruit that hangs from down from a tree branch. His downward stretching left hand holds a red flower. Another unusual feature is that his audience is comprised of a rabbit and a dog, who are watching him with great interest. He stands in front of a castle or church. It’s a beautiful, sunny, summery day. There are big, leafy trees, green grass and flowers.


From the book:


The Story Teller at Fault, from Celtic Fairy Stories, Joseph Jacobs


Keywords and phrases: Trickster and performer; transformation, in a flash; energy and a sense of wicked fun; creative inspiration; dazzling juggler of ideas and people; brilliant mischief; magic at his fingertips; transformation and surprise


The Magician is a tricky figure to read or predict. He is an archetypal force; god-like and allied to Hermes, teacher of mankind but also a trickster. The flashes of inspiration the Magician brings can result in a careless kind of cruelty as well as inspiration and a spark of genius. There is nothing comfortably entertaining about this magician--you are his dupe as much as his appreciative audience….


The element of the ladder to heaven [in the story, the Magician throws a ball of silk into the air, which becomes a ladder] reminds us of the traditional Magician who holds one hand up into the sky as a conduit for energy to pass between heaven and earth.


This card can signal an amazing flash of creative energy and inspiration, or simply an illusion that tricks the imagination. Or, at its more intriguing, it can point to both at the same time….When we can recognize that both aspects can co-exist, we truly understand the nature of Hermes, and of the Magician.


The original story




Traditional meanings


Creativity, action, power, manifestation, skill, communication, technology, magic, work, self-employment, a smooth talker, having the gift of the gab, will-power, directing your will, creative visualization, manifesting your desires, deceit, con artist, liar, communication blocks, abuse of power, creative stagnation, ill intentions, manipulation, fake skillset, a charlatan, ill intentions, being out of your depth.


My impressions of the card/story combination:


The image on the card is something of a mash-up of the story, in that  a hare and a dog appear in the story, but they are never the Magician’s audience, as depicted on the card. There are actually two separate incidents in the story with two different hares and dogs. The shiny thing up in the tree is not a fruit, but a ball of silk, which the Magician (or the beggar, as we know him in the story) throws up in the air to create a ladder, which first the hare and then the dog shown on the card climb and disappear.


The weird outfit worn by the Magician just shows that he is a poor beggar. I had thought there might be more to it, but I don’t think so. He is standing in front of the castle of Red Hugh O’Donnell, where he performs many tricks and feats of magic. He goes so far as to kill people, but then we find out that they weren’t really killed, or if they were, he brings them back to life unharmed.


The story teller, who loses everything to the Magician early in the tale, has when we meet him for the first time, been unable to think up a story, and he is at a loss about what to do. It isn’t until the end of the story that we learn that the beggar has played all his tricks, many of which make use of real magic, simply in order to provide the story teller with a story for the king that evening. 


My take (what I make of it/what I might see in a reading where I drew it):


I really love this depiction of the Magician. He is an amazing creative force. He can be casually cruel, but his cruelty is reversible. While he’s not malevolent at all, he makes use of our weaknesses (for gambling, for being gullible) in order to play his tricks. We want to believe in his magic, even though we should know better. We want to be entertained, and he is a great entertainer. 


The Magician is disguised as a poor beggar. Like this deck’s version of the Fool, we are encouraged not to pay too much attention to appearances, since they can be so deceiving.


In a reading, I might see this card as a creative solution to a problem from an unlikely source, a burst of creativity, a warning about overconfidence, or a warning about an actual person who is trickster.


Taking a cue from the book, I think I’ll try to see the card as an indication of an illusion that can also be a creative inspiration. Maybe creativity sometimes presents itself first as an illusion, and the trick is to turn it into something real.


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The Magician - Everyday Witch



The Magician is standing by her (his) altar and focusing on the 4 tools in front of her. A black cat is sitting on the table and watching.


Images and Symbolism:

-the 4 tools: Sword, Wand, Chalice and Pentacle

-black cat, sitting like Bast

-red roses

-fog everywhere (beautiful and circling around mysteriously)

-wooden table top on a huge old tree trunk (which is still standing where it has grown)

-silver crown with the moon, like the one priestesses sometimes wear



-red, blue and gold (Magician’s dress)

-aquamarine (sky and the fog floating all around)

-red (roses)

-wood (table)


What action is going on:

There is not much action. She is making magic. She is waving her hands about in an uncertain manner. She is not *directing* energy anywhere. The energy waves around her hands are rather like the fog circling about around her feet. Maybe the action is more inside her head?


This card encourages:

-to use your tools and talents

-to protect and love people & processes

-trusting in your abilities


Warns against:

-centering too much on doing

-tour de force

-being too hard, demanding, dogmatic, exacting

-this particular Magician warns against being too vague, weak & undecided in a situation where action and decisions may be needed


Traditional meanings:

-realizing your potential

-action; carrying out plans

-creativity; using your talents

-knowing what you are doing and why

-focusing on a goal

-having vitality, feeling vigorous and energized

-therapist, alchemist, artist, occultist


From the Book:

-You can do this, you will succeed, you have all the tools


Sallie Nichols: (in Jung and Tarot. An Archetypal Journey. Weiser 1984)

-serious professional, dedicated artist

-ONE; monotheism, successor of Thoth and Hermes

-active, light, bright, masculine, penetrating

-can be sterile and rigid

-“All artists are Magicians for they juggle the forms of everyday life into transcendental patterns”



-there is something that I don’t like about this Magician. She isn’t very convincing and she doesn’t seem to be powerful enough to manage all the tasks a Magician should. She is not *directing* energy, just waving her hands about in an uncertain manner.

-the author writes that this figure is meant to be androgynous. Maybe it is that Priestess headdress but she looks more like a woman to me

-the golden light at her chest is supposed to be where her heart is but it is too far to the left!



“The core of magic is to summon an image and the power to work with that image.” (Anais Nin)


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Haindl Tarot


I - The Magician


First Impressions: He is a mature person. He has gained more experience as a person and, therefore, is more able to manifest his thoughts and desires. As Magicians in many other Tarot decks, he displays the items of the suits; Spear (Wand), Cup, Sword and a Stone (Pentacle). This shows that he carries with him all the tools he needs. I note that the Spear pierces the glass Cup (without breaking it) and the Sword is imbedded in the Stone. Does this indicate some interaction or relation between these elements? Possibly "male" aspects "piercing" "female" aspects? The Magician's face is pictured twice; once done in light colors & the other in darker shades. Perhaps representing a duality in his nature? There are numerous eyes trailing into the Cosmos behind him. A crescent Moon is shown with a star impossibly shining through the open part. Jagged Ice to the left and what appears to be a partially folded, striped cloth on the right. The cloth initially makes me think of a circus tent - a showman's tent?


Symbols: (From Haindl book): Hebrew letter; "Beth" - "House" - Symbolizes human creation; culture, civilization, creativity. However, a house can isolate us from Nature. Cities began as collections of houses.


Rune; "Peoh" - P - "Cattle", also property and wealth. Sacred to old Norse god "Frey", god of sexual potency and peace. "Peoh" also signifies cosmic fire/male creative force. In Norse Myth the World begins with fire melting ice. It ends with the fiery destruction of Ragnarok (seen in The Aeon and The Universe cards).


Astrological Sign; Mercury - was the god of Magicians, healers, writers, swindlers & thieves. So it represents mental & magical powers. Is also known as the Egyptian god Thoth - invented writing & magic & gave "The Book of Thoth" to the first Egyptian Magicians.


White Border; represents element of Air, representing creative power of the intellect.


Suit Symbols; Sword, Spear, Cup and Stone. "... instead of lying apart they join together, the male Sword and Spear penetrating the female Stone and Cup."


Field of Crystals; (Not ice, as I originally thought.) Clarity of thought? Spirit, growth Truth. [Note; symbolism of these crystals not really discussed in the book very well.]


Sun and Moon; Polarities. Light/dark, conscious awareness/unconscious energy, intellect/instinct, positive/negative, male/female, etc. "For The Fool to become the true Magician - he must overcome the false polarity created when the intellect separates from Nature. These are ideal abstractions as reality isn't all black/white, but shades. Dark (night) contains some light (moon/stars) and light creates some dark (shadows).


Light Face; Radiates truth and strength.


Dark Face; Represents loss of truth and light. These show the magician in both his light, creative and "good" side, as well as his dark, dishonest side. Both the desire to do good and the desire for power for selfish ends. The dark face also morphs into a tree trunk representing the intellect being trapped within our own nature.


Triangles; The angles of the Sword and the Spear form 2 triangles - 1 pointing upward and 1 pointing downward - these also represent Spirit & Intellect. (I also note to myself that these triangles are also representative of the alchemical symbols for the elements Fire and Water as well as Air and Earth.)


Striped Cloth; There is no reference to this in the Haindl Book. Some searching on the 'net brought up the fact that it is similar to the black & gold stripes in the background of the 2 of Stones (Harmony). The article on that card in Vol. 2 of the Haindl book, connects the cloth to a Jewish man's prayer shawl and speaks of the lines moving in harmony with each other. This makes me think it is a symbol which connects this Magician to Kabalistic traditons? Then there is the "harmony" theme of the 2 of Stones - again connecting the Magician to Nature and Spirit. Still, I cannot entirely discount my original impression of the material of a showman's tent.


Meanings: Condensed from Haindl book;


Upright; A card of power. "... the power to direct your life in positive ways." If a person has gone through a period of stagnation, The Magician in a reading points to a burst of energy and the ability to make things happen. Creativity. A force working through you to bring ideas into existence. The Magician tells a person that they can begin new projects or develop things already started. Imagination, the ability to take a fresh approach to problems to come up with new ideas. A card of focused will. It shows someone persuasive, dynamic, able to excite others and able to bring them along on her or his projects and ideas. The Magician overcomes resistance in other people, but also in himself. The magical power transforms situations. It breaks down obstacles. A card of wisdom. Also service to others. Merlin was strongest using his power in the service of Arthur, but lost it when he thought of himself & became trapped.


Reversed; A block to the natural expression of a person's energy. This may happen if an outside influence stops the person from realizing their potential. May also show an inner resistance. Repressed fear or emotional pain ... may close off the flow of creative force. The trapped energy may show itself as physical troubles, depression or anxiety. Alternatively, the reversed Magician can signify arrogance or the misuse of person power to dominate others. The person has the magical power to overcome resistance, but lacks the wisdom to use it for a good purpose.


My (additional) Interpretations:


Upright; Becoming self-aware and connecting to higher wisdom. Able to utilize this in your life. You've achieved direction in your life. For example; the student who has chosen a major and is working on it, or even doing post-grad work. Working on/towards a career. Putting a plan in motion. Achieving/learning balance in your life - balancing the elements; Nature (Stones)/Intellect (Swords) - Emotions (Cups)/Energy (Wands). In a more "negative" aspect; the trickster, or performer. Using your knowledge or power to "show off". Acting as though you have knowledge or abilities you do not possess. Possibly someone else's power affecting you. Gaining new power, but you're still learning how to control and direct it.


Reversed; Lethargy, inactivity, ignorance, impatience. Straying from your chosen path - especially a spiritual path. Imbalance; air-headed, overly emotional, etc. You have ideas but lack the "tools" to manifest them. Creative blockage. Inept, aimless, falling back to "The Fool", as the student who neglects their studies, parties too much or drops out. Burned out. Conceit, disdain for the knowledge & experience of others. Wasting or abusing Nature (a "nature raper"). "Conventional" person, a "working stiff" with no ambition or failed ambitions. In a more positive aspect; a reliable, steady worker. Always there when you need them. Can be trusted to follow-through on instructions.


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Manga Tarot


The Sorceress - I



A woman is facing us, her arms held above her head as her hands seem to encircle a large sphere of white light. She is dressed in red, her clothes reminding me of some belly dancing costume. The bra part reminds me a bit of seashells and her armbands really look like lotus flowers. She is wearing a large golden necklace and some horn-like symmetric jewel at the top of her forehead. A sword is standing upright in front of her with its tip facing down. Something that looks neither really solid, neither really liquid, neither really gaseous, golden yellow in color, is swirling its way around her in 'volutes' or 'streams'. It looks like the background is covered in a dense red smoke.



Colors : Red and gold



Season : Spring



LWB : Will. Decision-making ability, beginning of a journey, courage, energy. Will and equilibrium are the basis of every action.



First impression : This card feels very dynamic, with all the golden volutes swirling around and the large sphere of white light at the top of the card. Even the sorceress' hair and the bottom of her clothes seem to be full of life/movement. There is definitely some magic at work in this card and the woman looks focused and totally in control of what is happening. The look on her face and her body position denote no hesitation at all. At the same time, we don't really know what is going on, we don't know what's the light sphere for, what's the sword for, what the golden volutes are and a thick cloud of smoke prevent us from seeing the surroundings. Overall, it is a very mysterious card.



What others had to say :

-Some people were seeing the sphere of light as the Sun.

-Most people couldn't identify the nature of the golden yellow volutes either.

-Some people were seeing flames and not smoke in the background.

-Overall everybody seems to have a very personal take on this card, which shouldn't be surprising, with all the elements being so mysterious.



Symbolism found in the card


-Sphere of light : Can represent the Sun or focused energy. Circles represent the infinity and white is the color of purity.


-Spring : Symbolizes budding energy. The kanji is written inside the sphere of light, as if to put an emphasis on it. Spring is also related to beginnings.


-Clothing : Reminds of performance clothing. The Juggler from the Tarot de Marseille's tradition is definitely a performer, so this aspect could totally suit this card.


-Lotus flowers : In Buddhism, lotus flowers are associated with spiritual enlightement.


-Forehead jewel : Reminds me of a kuwagata maedate, which is a stylized deer antlers decorative crest commonly found on the front of samurais' helmets. Its official symbolism is unclear, but it definitely gives off an aura of power and magnificence.


-Red color : Associated with the root chakra and grounding, but also with passion and fiery energy.


-Gold : For me the jewels, the hilt of the sword and the mysterious 'volutes' seem to be either made of gold, or gold in color. It's a symbol of wealth, power, success and masculine energy.


-Golden swirls : I couldn't help but think of the alchemical concept of gold transmutation when I tried to analyze the presence of these golden swirls around the Sorceress, especially since the Magician is often called 'The Alchemist'.


-Curves : This card is full of round shapes and curved lines. The sphere of light, the body of the Sorceress, her clothing, the golden swirls... It's associated with feminine energy, which compensates for the masculine red color and the 'deer antlers' jewel. It also reminds of the flowing nature of energy.


-Symmetry : The almost symmetry of the image brings a sense of stability to this otherwise very dynamic card.


-Sword : Symbol of both physical power and intellectual clarity.


-Smoke : Adds an aura of mystery, as something might be hidden from our view.



Synthesis/conclusion :


After a week of working on this card, I still find there are some elements I couldn't make sense of, but overall the message of the card is quite clear anyway. A lot of power exudes from this image and I think that depending on the reading, different elements or details might pop out more.


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Decks- The Fairytale Tarot by Magic Realist Press and the Fairy Tale Tarot by Lisa Hunt


Card Name and Fairytale

1 The Magician, “The Storyteller at Fault

1 The Magician, “The Thunder Dragon” also known as "The Yellow Thunder Dragon" found in this book.


Visual Analysis

What are the possible symbolic elements?  (Alberti, 2011)

Ball of string, animals, ear sticking out of cap, wall with a window

Box, glowing object, light that comes from the box, dragon and shadow creatures in the background


How does the structure of a picture- or any visual art form- affect our emotional response? (Bang, 2016, p. xiv)

The diagonal lines in the images create suspense and excitement. In the MRP card the figure creates the diagonal line with his body and my eyes travel back forth from his hands. The animals focus on him and his attention is on the ball of string that drifts out of the image. I have many questions: where is the ball of string going, why are the animals staring at him, was he telling them a story, is he listening for something?


Lisa Hunt’s card also has diagonal lines. One is created by the table that the box rests on. The second line is implied, the visible dragon in the left corner leads my eye to the young boy’s head. The shadows dancing in the background and the glowing light that wraps around the boy’s body spilling into the background implies something has been released. I start asking questions. What is in the box? Does the dragon want to harm this boy? Where did the box come from?


Wisdom from the Hero’s Journey  (Fiction, n.d.)

What lessons has the hero learned about him or herself on this journey? What are we (the spectators) supposed to learn from the journey?

Chang, the protagonist from the Thunder Dragon, is transformed after encountering the dragon. The transformation is not without chaos. He and his family survive a terrible storm, he must greet the dragon again with full knowledge that he is a supernatural being, and present his story to the emperor. It is a fantastic story that all started with the act of dreaming and wishing. Chang wanted something extraordinary to happen and eventually it did. The wise grandmother acts as a mentor by interpreting events and sleeping and dreaming. I think the wisdom in the story is the power of imagination, dreams, and using gifts wisely.


The Storyteller at Fault echoes similar themes of divine intervention, gifts, surviving chaos and transformation. The beggar is also a trickster that encourages the protagonist to play. The wife’s role in the story is very strong to me because she encourages the gambling thinking that it could solve her husband’s problem and it does. It seems that the storyteller was generous in the past to the beggar and that the favor was returned. I think the wisdom in the story is understanding that solutions to your problem may come in a form you don’t expect, treating others with kindness is important, and telling stories is its own kind of magic.



I read this article by Rachel Pollack and loved the questions she posed about seeking wisdom from the cards.


What do I know?

Quoting from Joan Bunning’s description the Magician is associated with action, conscious awareness, concentration and power. I know from visual analysis and reading the stories that there is a divine element alluded too. This could be a metaphor for the imagination, dreams that the characters have, experiences that must be undergone in order to create something new.


What have I forgotten?

I forgot about the power of asking for help. The wife, grandmother, dragon, and beggar offer encouragement, interpretation, and even a little antagonizing that ultimately solves the characters problems or leaves them transformed for the better. There are many tools that can help with taking action and the support of others may be the most powerful tool of all.


What do I need to know and must never forget?

Dreams and the stories we tell ourselves and others are important. Having an imagination and creating something tangible from dreams is transformative. Paris is Burning is one of my favorite documentaries and this quote about balls sums it up the best “A balls is the very word whatever you want to be you be. At a ball you have a chance to display your arrogance, your seductiveness, your beauty wit, charm, and dominance. You can become anything and do anything, right here, right now and it won't be questioned. I came, I saw, I conquered. That's a ball."




Alberti, G. (2011). Symbolism within the Tarot and Comparative Visual Analysis: A Proposed Methodology for the Study of the Tarot as Applied to the Ride Waite Smith Deck. Retrieved from conservancy.umn.edu: https://conservancy.umn.edu/handle/11299/116801


Bang, M. (2016). Picture This How Pictures Work. San Francisco: Chronicle Books LLC.


Fiction, K. G. (n.d.). Science Fiction Writers Workshop: Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey. Retrieved from http://www.sfcenter.ku.edu/Workshop-stuff/Joseph-Campbell-Hero-Journey.htm




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"Close the gulf between what you can imagine and what you can create. Tap into universal forces as well as your inner resources and strength  Stream forward on the arrow of your will. Become what you need. Call in your god/desses, your allies, your magic. Predict the future only you create. Believe in your power." - Slow Holler Guidebook



Art by Mickey Remains


I'm going to be honest, this is probably my least favorite card in the deck. I struggle to get Magician, Southern, or even queer from this card. It's a common downside to collaborative decks, but it's a real shame it happened to such an otherwise powerful card.


But let's look at it with fresh eyes. On a second look, the fashion I thought was a bit too Saloon-style for this deck is actually not all that anachronistic. The hair, pearls, and fan definitely lend to a sort of Antebellum fashion. I was hoping the tattoo's would lend themselves to be the symbols of the suit, because there is a branch (Suit of Branches/Fire) and knife (Suit of Knives/Air), but there are no symbols of Vessels or Stones.


So what does this card have that could lend itself to the Magician? The person's posture is one of cool aloofness, just barely looking over at the viewer. They do look like someone with an inner power inside of them. Maybe they're an artist, or a dancer, or a business owner, or an outlaw roaming the West (see? I can't fully escape that vibe here) but they know what they're about and assured they can get the job done. The other, non-suit tattoos might also echo this, with a star (magic and power) a bird (freedom) and an hour glass (the perfect time to begin). The rose with the knife tattoo reminds me of the flowers the RWS version often has.


I've seen quite a few people mention they see the person in this card as a trans woman, which would lend to some queering of this card. If the Fool is the beginning of our journey to transition, to be out, to accept ourselves, than the Magician is when that starts to come to fruition. We are comfortable and confident in who we are, and we are ready to start doing the things we couldn't do before when we were still in the closet.


The reversed keywords are: Slight timidity or lack of confidence. A need to clarify your intentions and focus. If at first you don't succeed, start over, and try again.

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The Magician

Revelations Tarot

First impressions – it is quite the GREENEST Magician card I have come across – to the extent that it startled me. And – because of the reversed images included in each card in this deck, there are two lemniscates, two wands, two of everything – all the same but different. The card is quartered diagonally with what look like rays of green light.




He brings together all elements as he is the catalyst of for all. He is the energy, which drives, the one who sparks interest. He is charming, he is witty and he is at home with the world around him.

In situations this card represents the positive beginning of new ventures. This card also represents the presence of an individual who may act as a catalyst for new things to come. In relationships, this card gives the go-ahead to start afresh and begin something new with someone you may have had your eye on



Outside forces hold him back. He is unable to channel his energy. He is distracted or blinded by other things.

This card brings to light a block in the flow of any project or relationship. Sometimes the block may be an external influence, and other times the bloc k can come fro within the project or relationship. Either way, the hindrance needs to be identified and addressed in order to overcome the situation.

Traditional meanings (taken from a list I have had for a while….):


Originality, creativity, skill, will-power, self confidence, dexterity, sleight of hand.


Weakness in will, insecurity, delay, no imagination.


There are no huge differences, but the meanings given in the LWB certainly match the card better…. (IMHO)

Images and symbol – from the LWB

The dove represents the freedom of creation, which can come from within.

The hands in the background are representation of outside forces, which control and affect the paths and choices the magician takes. The upside had is open with palm facing towards the sky - expression release, the release of self. The hand on the reverse represents an expression of constriction and control - holding the magician back from his full potential.


The staves of the magicians contrast between the control one has over the energies in their lives. The upside magician utilizes a stiff and straight staff, a representation of the sureness of his direction and conviction of his power. The reversed magician utilizes a crooked staff from a fallen branch - a representation of the haphazard nature of his mind and powers.

The gestures of the magician's hands holding the staves points to their direction - of moving forwards or dwelling on the situation for too long.


He carries all four elements of the minor arcana - the sword for wind, the wand for fire, the cup for water and the pentacle for earth. He has command over these elements.


The varying green background represents the deep relationship the magician has with nature in all its seasons.


My impressions


The upright magician is apparently masked; this seemed strange to me at first, but he is an esoteric and perhaps secret figure…. With his left hand he is pouring something form his cup into a seething maelstrom of (presumably) liquid in the centre of the card. The sword is above his shoulder; the coin on his forehead, and he holds the staff away from him in his right hand. He has a red robe, flowing black hair with a white streak. Above him a white dove flies into the sky. He looks immensely powerful and distant; he knows all and will reveal it only when he chooses. He is looking straight out of the card.



The reversed magician is very different; his wand is bent; his cup upright and filled with boiling liquid – perhaps stolen from the maelstrom in the centre of the card. The hair is grey, the robe purpled; there is no dove – and the whole background seems somehow cracked and crazed – like very old china. He looks secretive and sly, not honest. He is hiding something.


The differences between the two aspects of the card are striking. It really makes me think about reversals – a concept I like to see in a reading. It looks as if the upright magician is honest, firm, powerful and straightforward – if you ask him the right question, he will answer. The reversed magician is perhaps more of a Loki figure, crafty, not what he may seem. He has the answers – but he may not give them in a way that can be easily understood.

All the traditional symbols are present – but because of the layout of the cards in this deck, they are free to be in unusual places – there is no table for a neat laying out of the four symbols, and they can be placed differently in the upright and reversed images. The boiling liquid in the centre of the card is shared by both aspects.


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Card name - Magus

First impressions

Something of a relief after the Fool It looks like Mercury, and I note the four suits are represented among the things flying around him. There is also a staff, something that looks like a bag of money, an arrow (?) and a parchment. He is in front of a caduceus which makes him look as though there are snakes coiling around his head – or coming from it. He stands in a balletic pose (en pointe !) on the tip of a strange split oval – which apparently represents the mountain of the unconscious. From his heels are massive wings. To his left (our right) an angry looking ape, Hanuman, I think, behind the wings. I have to say the wings are very – unwinglike, to me. They are just too massive and I feel like the figure would not be able to balance when using them ! I don't like the look of the guy. He LOOKS like one of those very superior doctors you run up against, the kind who tells you that he knows your knee hurts, but you actually have a nosebleed.

He also looks very childlike, in a way. Or - more - like an opinionated teenager. HE KNOWS and you can do the other thing !

I know he represents Hermes Trismegistus, but this is about what I SAW !


Frieda says in the essays:


The Magician or Juggler.’ Mercury. who is Wisdom. Will and Word, by whom the world is created. symbolises the fluidic basis of all transmission of activity. Behind him and through him is the Ape, Hanuman. which is a Hindu conception. The Egyptian counterpart, Thoth, is also always followed by the Cynocephalus Ape.

Meaning (from Wasserman):


Skill. Wisdom. Adroitness. Elasticity, craft Cunning, Deceit, Theft. Sometimes occult wisdom or power. Messages. Business transactions.Ill-dignified: learning or intelligence interfering with the matter at hand.

Images and Symbolism

From the Book of Thoth:


In brief, he is the Son, the manifestation in act of the idea of the Father. He is the male correlative of the High Priestess. Let there be no confusion here on account of the fundamental doctrine of the Sun and Moon as the Second Harmonics to the Lingam and the Yoni; for, as will be seen in the citation from The Paris Working, (see Appendix) the creative Mercury is of the nature of the Sun. But Mercury is the Path leading from Kether to Binah, the Understanding; and thus He is the messenger of the gods, represents precisely that Lingam, the Word of creation whose speech is silence.


This card is referred to the letter Beth, which means a house, and is attributed to the planet Mercury. The ideas connected with this symbol are so complex and so multifarious that it seems better to attach to this general description certain documents which bear upon different aspects of this card. The whole will then form an adequate basis for the full interpretation of the card through study, meditation, and use.


From the above it will appear that this card is the second emanation from the Crown, and therefore, in a sense, the adult form of the first emanation, the Fool, whose letter is Aleph, the Unity. These ideas are so subtle and so tenuous, on these exalted planes of thought, that definition is impossible. It is not even desirable, because it is the nature of these ideas to flow one into the other. One cannot do more than say that any given hieroglyph represents a slight insistence upon some particular form of a pantomorphous idea. In this card, the emphasis is upon the creative and dualistic character of the path of Beth.


In the traditional card the disguise is that of a Juggler.

This representation of the Juggler is one of the crudest and least satisfactory in the medieval pack. He is usually represented with a headdress shaped like the sign of infinity in mathematics (this is shown in detail in the card called the Two of Disks). He bears a wand with a knob at each end, which was probably connected with the dual polarity of electricity; but it is also the hollow wand of Prometheus that brings down fire from Heaven. On a table or altar, behind which he is standing, are the three other elemental weapons.

“With the Wand createth He.

With the Cup preserveth He.

With the Dagger destroyeth He.

With the Coin redeemeth He.”

Liber Magi vv. 7-10.”

The present card has been designed principally upon the Graeco-Egyptian tradition; for the understanding of this idea was certainly further advanced when these philosophies modified each other, than elsewhere at any time.

I saw the card first as showing Mercury – which figures, as in BoT, Crowley says:


To continue the identification, compare Christ’s descent into hell with the function of Hermes as guide of the dead. Also Hermes leading up Eurydice, and Christ raising up Jairus’ daughter.

There are 8 magical objects floating around him – the disk, censer, wand, pen, scroll, winged egg, cup and dagger. They are the four elements – as represented by the four suits - and the fifth – spirit - and three more tools – the wand of double power (Horus), Stylus and Scroll (Thoth). Everyone writing this up seems to see the Magus as androgynous. I can’t buy into that, and the “swastika” posed card that was rejected is very definitely male. The book of Thoth refers to the Magus as male, too.


On further reading:

Extraordinarily, Banzhaf has one of the alternative Magus cards as his illustration, and much of what he says kind of falls as you can’t help wondering what he was looking at when he wrote the book ! – the words match the card Crowley selected, but still…. Sloppy !

But following that up, Duquette quotes the “original design” (from Crowley 777) as saying: “His attitude suggests the shape of the Swastika or thunderbolt, the message of God.” – and THAT fits the third magus card we all know and love. Here they all are together.


The Magician represents the second highest level of spiritual illumination. The figure represents the glyph of Mercury as shown here. mercurymed.gifThe ape of Thoth mocks him and distorts his words (I think here of Cassandra, who spoke truth and was mocked and disbelieved !) And the winged egg is the pre-existent Zero, the source of all positive manifestation. There is also a blue dove on the head of the caduceus, indicating the feminine principle ?


My take (what I make of it/what I might see in a reading where I drew it)


It looks very freeing, liberating. I guess I would have to say causing change by sheer determination and using everything at your disposal – which is a very liberating thing to do. But - for some reason it also looks very dangerous. I think I would also counsel caution !

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The Magician – The Hermetic Tarot by Godfrey Dawson

The Magus of Power



Significant Symbology and Meaning

  • Number 1
  • Letter Beth
  • Symbol for Air, Water, Fire, Earth
  • Cup, Sword, Dagger, Candle, Flower
  • Book with star of David
  • Raphael  רְפָאֵל
  • Magician holding Scroll and Wand
  • Winged Hat
  • Mercury holding Caduceus
  • Winged Crest


The Magician represents the first vibration from which The Fool energy begins the process of physical manifestation, hence the number 1, and letter Beth which is the first chosen letter before Aleph as per the myth. Beth refers to house, which can be interpreted as the ‘dwelling place’ of pure source energy. The Magician is depicted with Mercury levitating beside him and radiating, they both embody the idea of God’s messenger or communicator. In the context of manifestation, speech or words carry the power of ones will – a sound (vibration) that carries an idea. Hence, the power of the Magus resides in his ability to transform pure god potential (from The Fool) into the physical. Mercury holds the Caduceus, representing the four worlds of the Atziluth, Briah, Yetzirah and Assiah. The Greek and Egyptian counterpart to Roman Mercury (Hermes and Thoth), were also associated as messengers. Thoth even being credited as the inventor of Egyptian hieroglyphs, or the word. While the wings on The Magician's hat and in the winged crest above seem to hold the Hermes connection. The hat is also decorated with a sun, moon and pentacle.

The archangel Raphael’s name is in on the floor at The Magicians feet. Raphael is the angel attributed to healing (an interesting phallic story of Abraham goes with that), but also linked to the class of angels associated with messengers. In the Islamic tradition he is depicted with a trumpet, another reference to the first sound (vibration), and the act of divine communication more generally. The four elements are visible as symbols on the alter at his feet. Together with the items displayed there, they are a representation of the prima materia that this card embodies. Though the placement is a little nonsensical – we see a cup, sword, candle, dagger, flowers in a bud vase, and book with the Star of David (incorrectly referred to as a pentagram in the LWB). The Magician is holding his wand up to the sky, radiating through Mercury as to signify divine inspiration and connection. The messenger takes the source intelligence and wields it to his will.


Astrological Aspects

The symbol of the planet Mercury (a half moon sits over a circle with a dangling cross attached to it) represents it’s winged helmet and caduceus. When the symbol is superimposed over the Tree of Life, it encompasses all the sephiroth with the exception of Kether - which floats above the symbol. As a representation of Mercury’s energy into the material world, the spirit of Kether though unattached seems to be inextricably linked - almost like the a guiding light or halo. 

It is also interesting that Dante considered Mercury to be associated with the art of dialect, another connection to the first sound, vibration, or manifestation. Astrologically Mercury is an energising planet, of communication, intellect and opportunity (traditionally relating to the very material issues of trade and commerce).



Exploring the Tree of Life position

The Intelligence of Transparency

Path 12 – From Kether (Crown) to Binah (Understanding)

They say you only truly understand a thing once you can teach it to someone else – perhaps this is the reason for the strong links to communication in the context of intelligence. The path of Beth represents the movement of energy from the one pure source, to the Binah which is from where all life emerges. This path is the great organiser and encloser of the spirit descending towards denseness. Once this energy is organised, the path is clear to move closer to it’s manifestation. It is easy to see how this card can be interpreted as a call to action. It is a card of transmission, of divine inspiration in movement towards creation.



Overall Meaning LWB

From the LWB:

Meanings: Wisdom. Skill. Adaptation. Originality. Self-Confidence.

Reversed: Insecurity. Ineptitude. Weak-willed.

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The Magician from the Deviant Moon Tarot



The Magician performs onstage. We see the shadows of an audience. These shadows make me think of the shadows on the wall of Plato's cave. The magician will escape the cave by seeing that the physical world is only a shadow of the truth and mastering the energies that come from beyond it. He will master the energies of the four suites The finger dipped in the cup of blood indicate that the process will not be without a price.

Mary Greer suggests trying to catch the fleeting images that come into our minds in connection with a card. I had a childhood memory of building mud dams to channel water running down tracks in an unmade road.This may be to do with the control and channeling of energies.I also thought of a Fra Angelico Fresco but I think this may only be because of the multiple hands.


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The Magician





Card description and impressions: This Magician appears to be standard, for the most part. He has the suit symbols on the table (though the cup appears to be an urn or vase), he wears an ouroboros belt and stands on ground covered in roses and lilies. As in the RWS, his feet are not visible. He gestures “as above, so below” and, Marseilles-wise, wears a hat shaped like a lemniscate. The coin is also similar to Marseilles coins.

He appears to be a ceremonial magician, but that does not rule out the possibility that he is a mountebank. They have their share of charlatans.

Two things stand out as being different: he holds no objects in his hands, and the background is a deep red. I can’t find a precedent for the red in any historical Tarots, and I suspect that the artist just thought it would look dramatic, though it could refer to anything from passion to danger to the philosopher’s stone. I’m not going to worry about it at present. Getting caught up in details distracts from the main thrust of the card, which is what I’m aiming for here.


LWB: “He stands with one hand pointing to heaven and the other hand pointing to earth, signifying the descent of grace, virtue and light. A snake eating it’s tail girdles his waist as a sign of eternity. The four symbols of the Tarot suits are on the table, and lilies and roses grow in front to symbolize life.

Special meanings - Skill and subtlety on the part of the Questioner, who must be on guard against the snares of enemies. Indicates a change of position, too.

“When the card is upside down it reveals the possibility of disgrace and unrest.”


While the standard meanings can apply here, the phrase “change of position” is an important clue. Something is about to be transformed here, whether it’s real, illusion, or just the Magician being exposed as a fraud. Advising the Questioner to “be on guard against the snares of enemies” would fall under that, since the Magician would have no shortage of people hoping to expose or debunk what he does.

Synthesis/core meaning: Change.


The Tarot definitely needs a card dedicated to change and transformation, and a lot of people have attempted to ascribe that to Death. But most changes are not so dire! Nor should Death be softened in order to make it palatable for the squeamish. As with the Fool, the cards before and after, or, alternately, on the diagonal vertically (the cards he points to) can indicate what is being changed and the form it will take.

Edited by katrinka
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Done early, but posted late. By the time I remembered that yesterday was Sunday, I was already at work. Bah.
Looking forward to the Ace of Wands next week. I now have a book with Eudes Picard translations for that! So hopefully I'm psyched enough not to forget. Plus, I'm off next weekend, so even if it slips my mind temporarily, I'll be at home when I remember. 😄

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Late but trying to catch up...


The Magician



Deck: Forest of Enchantment
Name of the card: 1 - The Enchanter

Description: A wizard looking old man with long beard is doing magic by the table. He has a blue hat and a blue cloak with fur on the sleeves. His right hand is up and the left one down as if he is holding an invisible ball. He looks intensely down towards his spell. The spell manifests in a circle formed of small items including feather, key, claw/tooth, herbs, ring and a bird skull. The spell forms light green spiral that raises up, around it something that looks like four small trees. The spell is shining light to the man’s face.
On the table there’s also candle stand with a burned melted candle. The candle is still smoking. Under the candle stand there are four books, between the two middle ones you can see a blue feather, leaf, some paper and herbs. There are also two bottles on the opposite side of the table, one almost hidden from the view. Behind the old man there’s a bookshelf with lots of books, bottles, hourglass, scrolls, bugs, plants, mortar and pestle, boxes and an olw. The owl is looking at the viewer. There’s also wand and this round thing on the left that I don’t know what it’s called.


First impressions: At first glace this guy has too much stuff. I think he needs a bigger room. He differs from the traditional Magician but I could find him surrounded by all the elements/suits. His hands could also mean ”as above, so below” even though the gesture is not as clear as in RWS.


Meaning at a glance according to the guide book: Magic. Wisdom. Force of will and intention. Ability to influence and help. Power at your command.


Old man, books – knowledge
Trees – growing, manifesting
Spiral – creation and growth
Owl – wisdom, silence
Hourglass – time


The man reminds of the Merlin of King Arthur’s time. He was a wizard or sorcerer, a prophet, a bard, an adviser and a tutor. Merlin was the last of the druid, the Celtic shaman, priest of nature, and keeper of knowledge, particularly of the arcane secrets.


Traditional meaning:
Upright: Manifestation, resourcefulness, power, inspired action
Reversed: Manipulation, poor planning, untapped talents


Numerology: 1
Independence, self-sufficiency, self-determination, leadership, beginning

Numerology Link: 10, The Wheel of Fortune, 19, The Sun


The suit / element: Air
Air is the element of intelligence, creativity, and beginnings.


Astrology: Mercury
The planet of day-to-day expression and communication. Mercury’s action is to take things apart and put them back together again. It is an opportunistic planet, decidedly unemotional and curious.

Edited by Kati
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I'm really enjoying reading all the different approaches people have taken to this study, and comparing it to my own for further contemplation (as you do).

@surreal... One day I will own a copy of that deck. I love the imagery. It is so interesting to see the blood in the cup instead of water. You could say that blood is the richest kind of water there is. Certainly an interesting take on the card. The imagery that came to you is so apt also, certainly from the organisation of energy aspect. 

@katrinka... I was wondering when the idea of The Magician as fraud would emerge! My Magician doesn't tell that story, perhaps it was contrary to the interests of those in the Golden Dawn! They instead seem to put more credence on the baton itself, and the concept of reality as an illusion in itself. I agree that is a very RED background. 

@Kati... There is a lot of lovely subtlety in your card. Even the name is a clever throwback to that first sound idea. The shape of the hourglass reminds me of the figure 8 infinity symbol that a lot of Magician cards have - though not so much the ones up here so far! 


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@Grace That’s so true, I didn’t even think about the infinity symbol! Before starting this study I felt like these cards didn’t have much of the traditional symbology but boy, was I wrong. Now I am kind of excited to discover what each of the cards hold.

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6 hours ago, Grace said:

I'm really enjoying reading all the different approaches people have taken to this study, and comparing it to my own for further contemplation (as you do).

@surreal... One day I will own a copy of that deck. I love the imagery. It is so interesting to see the blood in the cup instead of water. You could say that blood is the richest kind of water there is. Certainly an interesting take on the card. The imagery that came to you is so apt also, certainly from the organisation of energy aspect.

I seem to find a creative tension with the deck. It was purchased for it's art work not to read with. When I started reading with it the results seemed better than with decks I felt more comfortable with. This study is my chance to try to understand it better.


If we see the ace of cups as the grail. Then blood fits with the energy of the suite. I seem to remember that Crowley said it could be blood, water or wine depending on which was appropriate.

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@surreal I love it when a deck surprises you when you start reading with it. It is so satisfying (and then annoying because you can't help but go down the rabbit hole...🤣). I can see how wine would be used in some contexts. 

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Deck: Tabula Mundi

Card: The Magus

Planetary Trump of Mercury

Hebrew Letter: Beth

Tree of Life: Path 12 from Kether to Binah


Thoughts on this card:

This Magician looks like a DJ and the guidebook even describes him as 'The Mixmaster of the cosmic turntable is bringing down the house.' He is playing the music of the spheres for an audience of cosmic dancers. He holds the universe as a spiral disk in one hand, pulling it towards him. His other hand connects to the pentacle on the turntable - the above and below are linked through him. 

Here we have the first spark of manifestation.


The use of a DJ is quite inspired as it connects to well with Mercury who is associated with communication and discussion. The danger is that in the 'mixing' the word of the divine gets lost in translation. Divine concepts could be coming through distorted as they move into the mundane world. The nature of the message we hear will depend to some extent on the Magus who transmits it. Background noise or deliberate distortion? 


The guidebook also talks about how music is also mathematical and the most harmonic and magically effective music was said to use the golden ratio.


He wears the belt of the ouroboros which was first seen in The Fool. The Fool was silence and the indrawn breath before speech, The Magus is sound (Logos). There are the four trees of life and the four elemental suit symbols form part of his equipment. Following the beam of the spotlight from the hilt of the sword, helps find them all.



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1 hour ago, Flaxen said:

This Magician looks like a DJ and the guidebook even describes him as 'The Mixmaster of the cosmic turntable is bringing down the house.'

😄 That is fantastic. I love it! Such a cool take on The Magician. And good point about how mathematics is used in music - for composition and translation alike... very true! He's a younger Magician than I'm used to and brings a slightly different energy to my eyes, but I like him. 

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The Magician from The Morgan Greer Tarot





A youngish to middle aged male, his black hair held with a shiney band, he has a thick black moustache. He is wearing a white tunic under a red cape, the hood up on his head. The tunic is tied around his waist with an orouboros belt and in front of his neck/chest with a lemniscate as clasp. Above his head hovers a bright lemniscate. His left hand points towards the ground while his right hand reaches up to the sky holding a white wand with a round ball at each end. The Magician stands behind a round table, on the this table lie a golden pentacle at the back, a silver chalice with red liquid at the front, separated by a crossing wooden stick wand and a sword. Red roses grow on the one side of the table, white lilies on the other side. Behind the Magician there is a tree, and behind that a high wall with battlements encircling the Magician.


white tunic - purity, innocence

red robe - passion, energy

pentacle, sword, wand, cup - 4 elements

posture - as above so below

lemniscate - infinity, endless nature of energy

ouroboros - the present is feeding of the past in order to create the future, endless cycle of life

rose - passion for life

lily - truth, purpose

wall - protected from the outside, hard to get in


"Finally seeker, you have found your way to me. You have obviously managed to climb over the high wall and scramble through the trees, and now you stand here in front of me. That means you are determined to walk your path, that wall is a big obstacle to get over and you've made it into the inner. And now? You probably know where you want to go, at least roughly, but you need a little guidance on how to achieve your goal. I will help you - For I am Burt Reynolds The Magician!

Check out my table: you got it all laid out, the cup, the sword, the pentacle and the wand. These are yours. Your physicality, your feelings and intuition, your intellect, your inner fire, these are the resources you have within yourself. And that is the point, you already have all you need!

The next thing now is the intention! And then, we turn that intention into manifestation! Stretch your arm up, thrust it into the air and draw down the power and energy for your intention, then with the other hand point to the ground let the energy rush through your body and release it into the earth as manifestation! The hand to the sky is intention. The hand to the ground is manifestation. Fire, becoming earth!"

- insert small break for effect here-

In a calmer voice, Burt Reynolds The Magician continues with an encouraging smile: "Speak your intuition and then do it, you got all you need, you just gotta go for it. The power and magic is available to you. And remember: you deserve to accomplish your goals.


"By the Power of Grayskull.... I have the Power!" - He-Man and the Masters of the Universe

"The best way not to fail again is to be absolutely positive that when you do it this time, you are going to do it right." - Burt Reynolds

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"By the power of Grayskull" - that brings back memories!!


So many Magicians, such multiplicity, so multifarious.  I'm so happy everyone is posting images.  And such interesting posts, and Rupicapra's stories!  And the Magician as DJ.  So many unique interpretations...


Great work, all!  Inspired by you, I will go work on my card now.

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I'm surprised nobody's done a He Man Tarot yet. It could actually work. 😁
(I'm sure it's been thought of, so there's got to be copyright issues involved.)
And he DOES look like Burt Reynolds. It's the 'stache...

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Hello Cookies,


This is not my official post.  I'm having trouble staying with the official program.  My card of the week, which I will post before the deadline, I promise, is full of shamanic energy, and that sent me in a whole shamanic direction.  I'm now reading a book called Jung and Shamanism in Dialogue, which you will be hearing more about as I get deeper in.  But it also occurred to me that I have another shamanic deck, and I couldn't resist a card comparison.  This is the Ironwing Tarot, which is mostly black and white, but also incorporates delicate earth tones in the Majors.  


From the guidebook:


1 The Magician


Her asymmetical mask indicates the ability to see and act in the material world and that of the spirit.  She carries Iron objects for the Four Elements and the Tarot suits: a sparkling spike lamp, a coil-bordered water bowl, a pomegranate bell spilling garnet crystals, and a podlike knife with a half-moon blade.  We do not see who she is, but only what she does, and what she wants us to see.  On her right side, her fixed gaze and neatly tied hair show focus and self-control.  On her left, wild hair reflects the flashing ecstatic visions of the shaman’s trance.  She works with the raw elements, calling them in and combining them to serve her creative will.  She may do this without knowledge, skill or experience, but only with an innate connection that allows her to be an open channel for power.  She has much to learn, but she has overcome any fear or hesitation at handling the elements and enjoys the work for its own sake.  Her command of material resources can initiate movement with little thought for its effects.  She is the essence of the dramatic, original communication, but is also a subtle manipulator.  In a whirling dance of energy, her will moves and manifests all, then moves on.  She knows the value of performance.  The object is not to show off or to deceive people with conjurer’s tricks, but to allow her audience to participate in her work.  Through sacred theater, she expresses transformational magic.  She uses the dark glamor of her craft to illuminate the work as she describes each step.  Nothing is secret about the process, yet when it is done, the finished object holds even more mystery and power for those who watched its creation.  As a shaman, she provides a focus for the imagination, faith, and fears of the watchers.  Dancing between two worlds, she gives substance to visions and personifies the initiate’s hidden world for others.




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