In the more Rider-Waite like cards, the magician stands within a bower of flowers (which often link up with life whether they are white roses or not, especially when they are shown in abundance), usually of white lilies which represent purity and innocence and red roses which represent passion and courage. These flowers echo the colors of his robe, with courageous passion cloaking his inner pure intention and the absolute clarity of his purpose. The magician draws down power with the wand in his right hand and directs it outward to all life with his left. He’s a conduit for energy, but he’s not one to hoard the energy or force it to a direction. He has just learned how to focus and to direct the elements, and bring them together to a more efficient flow through his Will. (It’s really great to contrast how the projection of Will changes between the Fool and the Magician.)
The magician is also crowned with a lemniscate and wears an ouroboros about his waist as a belt. Both are symbols of the infinite and eternal, but they don’t necessarily mean “endless”. Rather, they’re notive of the cyclical flows of energy, and remind the reader that all the random, unrelated events of life are connected to a great, ever-flowing pattern–a pattern the Magician can tap into, for he consciously works with and practices the maxims of “As Above, So Below” and “As Within, So Without.”
Since the Magician relates to the conscious level of Will, he often relates to some sort of ‘marshalling of forces’ in readings, some sort of unifying drive within the querant to effect a change, usually with his or her own creativity and organizational skills. As Robin Wood notes, “this card means originality, great creative powers, imagination, skill, diplomacy, self-reliance. The opportunity to use any of these talents. The merging of the four elements. Mastery in the magical aspects of life.”
Robin Wood’s magician is notably different from a typical Waite-styled magician. According to her book, the Magician is an avatar of the Wiccan God, clearly evidenced by his horned hood. His dark hair and blue eyes signify that he embodies the dark and light aspects and the balance between them. His robe is the same red and white of the other magicians, but has a border of gold (incorruptibility) with white roses (freedom) and lilies (purity), and these flowers have bright green leaves to show that these values are growing in the God’s life. The robe is open to show that the God is open to novelty, and he is naked beneath it to show he is free and unashamed. His hands are positioned in the same “as above, so below” position of the other Magicians, and the hand that we can see is held in a slightly open position of the God, which signifies that the Magician is both the God and himself, much as we all are. All the tools the Magician needs for success lie on the table before him, waiting for him to channel his will to their energies. Behind him stands two candles, a black and white one to represent the conscious and unconscious minds. Both are lit because the Magician is illuminated in both aspects, and together they fill the card with light. This feature will strongly link Robin Wood’s magician with her next card, the High Priestess.
Again, the major symbols of the card are numbered below:
1. Red Roses/Red Robe.
- The roses connect to the zeal of life the magician has, and their red color connects to the active principles of passion and courage the magician has. These qualities are reflected in his outer robe.
2. White Lilies/White Robe.
- Lilies mean purity, chasteness, and innocence. A white color means purity, clarity, and freshness. The Lilies beneath the Magician and the white inner robe show that his grounded, most inner purpose is pure and clear.
3. As Above, So Below stance.
- This shows how the magician actively channels energy and combines it with his own will.
4. The Lemniscate and Ouroboros
- Both are symbols of the infinite and eternal, of the cyclical flows of energy.
KEYWORDS: Taking action, acting consciously, concentrating, experiencing power, creativity, magic, active principle, originator, willpower, initiative, conduit, focus, resourceful, channeling, conducting
Close your eyes and take several deed breaths. Imagine that you travel through time and space until you stand before the most primal of energies–the force behind all creation. How does this energy appear to you? As you stand there, begin to inhale and exhale slowly. As you inhale, imagine that you draw this force into your being. Fill your body entirely until there is no “you” left–only this creative force. After that, open your eyes. How does it feel to be one with the power of the Magician?
Keep the Magician card with you at all times today, or place it on your altar. Stay focused on action today. What is it that you need to accomplish? Do you have goals? If not, why not? Set some goals today. Write down the steps to achieve your daily goals and complete each step. The power behind magic is that of movement–so stay active until you achieve your plans.
For what it’s worth, the card descriptions are a combination of my own insights and paraphrasing from a handful of sources. I’m currently working with Rachel Pollack’s book The New Tarot Handbook, Robin Wood’s Robin Wood Tarot: The Book, and a smattering from Marcus Katz and Tali Goodwin’s Around the Tarot in 78 Days. I also strongly recommend Joan Bunning’s book Learning the Tarot as well as the resources found on her website, learntarot.com.