All posts by TarotDoctor

Conjure your life with the Magician

RWS Tarot 01 Magician.jpg
RWS Tarot 01 Magician” by Copyright holder was retrieved from http://www.sacred-texts.com/tarot (see note on that page regarding source of images).. Licensed under PD-US via Wikipedia.

The Magician is the first card in the Major Arcana of the Tarot. I thought I would give some thoughts about this card, rather than some hard definitions, which you can find in any good tarot book or online.

Magicians appear in stories all over the world. ( Merlin, Gandalf, et al.), but when reading tarot cards, I wouldn’t become too fixated on the notion of the Magician as some mysterious occultist. When we encounter this card, it refers to manipulating reality itself. I think a useful way of thinking of this card is that of a person acting as a kind of artist. Using the tools of the Classical Elements, which are Fire, Water, Air, and Earth, this character is able to make a change in the fabric of reality.

In the Rider Waite deck, the Magician strikes a particular pose, with his right hand toward the heavens, and his left hand pointing at the earth. The phrase “as above, so below” is a phrase from Hermetic thought, and it means that the spiritual realm mirrors the mundane. For example, people thought of Heaven as a kingdom, and so it was well and good that there would be earthly kingdoms, and that line of thinking went down to families ruled by a head of a household. The Magician is someone who has access to the Divine, and uses that connection to cause beneficial change on a mundane level. As a metaphor, we can think of it as making mundane changes, that pay big dividends in a spiritual level.

The Magician sometimes deals with illusion, but that doesn’t mean he’s a liar. The word artifice conjures up notions of the inauthentic. But the Magician in his full manifestation isn’t really attempting to deceive. For example, when we go to a movie or play, we allow for a brief time the idea that what we’re seeing is real life, and in this way, we can be moved. We’re not being tricked or conned by accepting, for a time, fiction as real life.

There is a strong trickster element to this card, which isn’t surprising, considering the name of the card. We’re constantly exposed to advertising and propaganda, so much that it becomes background noise. The trick for the tarot practitioner, is to listen to the right kind of Magician, perhaps a mentor or trusted colleague, a person that can enrich our lives, and ignore hucksterism and your local friendly neighborhood confidence artist.

The shadow aspects of this card can indicate deception. Gaslighting, the willful manipulation of the past, and memories, is absolutely in the domain of the shadow Magician. Shadow Magicians can also appear to be unclever. I actually worry more about con artists that “act dumb” than someone with a thin mustache and black cape.

Immature aspects of the magician, usually displayed by children and teenagers, are expressed by the youthful characters of Ferris Bueller or Bart Simpson. One gets the idea that these characters, when grown up, would continue to use their trickery, hopefully for the good of everyone.

Mature aspects of the magician could be described by a number of characters from myth and fiction. Whenever you have a character using their wits, the energy of the Magician is around.

Be a Magician!

Softer Landings with the Fool

RWS Tarot 00 Fool.jpg
RWS Tarot 00 Fool” by Pamela Coleman Smith – a 1909 card scanned by Holly Voley (http://home.comcast.net/~vilex/) for the public domain, and retrieved from http://www.sacred-texts.com/tarot (see note on that page regarding source of images).. Licensed under PD-US via Wikipedia.

This will be an on-going series of short articles that will hopefully help to add substance to your tarot readings, and make them stronger. This is my first article for Pagan News, and since I don’t know what I’m getting myself into, it’s fitting that today’s talk is on the Fool.

The Fool is traditionally numbered zero in what is known as the Major Arcana, or trump cards. The imagery depicts a rather smartly dressed fellow about to naively walk off a cliff. The Sun, which also has its own card, is to his back. An excited white dog barks near this person, acting as warning from our unconscious, “What are you doing? Can’t you wake up for a second and see you’re about to walk off a cliff. Are you listening to me?”  Or perhaps this white dog is spurring our Fool on to his leap. “Oh boy oh boy! This is gonna be great!”

Before we get started about the meaning of this card, let’s go down a meandering path. In mythology and fairy tales, the hero or heroine may encounter an animal that leads them to another magical or forbidden area. In Celtic and Welsh mythology, these animals were unusual for they were depicted in these tales as having white fur. In Alice in Wonderland, the main character follows a white rabbit down a rabbit hole, and finds herself, quite unexpectedly in another realm. By coincidence or design, our tarot Fool is encountering a white animal, and this same type of going into the unknown is happening.

The dog in the Fool card, and animals in mythology and stories that lead characters into hidden places, are representatives of the natural world. The Fool is in his head, the animal companion is not of the intellect, but of primal nature. Our dog reminds us that our bodies are entrenched in nature. The body can also surprise the person for both heart-warming and heart-breaking reasons. For example, pregnancy can be both an intentional and unintentional path.

An important point, all of this imagery is allegorical. If you go out in the woods waiting for some white animal to lead you to a new discovery, you will be sorely disappointed. Dreams are another story. Try to follow where animals take you in dreams.

Alice par John Tenniel 14.png
Alice par John Tenniel 14“. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

But what of the Fool in the card, the main character? In older depictions of this card, the Fool is a bit of a wandering hobo. He has a disheveled, vagabond appearance, quite removed from the dandyish and clean youth of the Rider Waite deck. In the Waite deck, he holds a white flower, which symbolizes a freedom from primitive baser instincts, and also a straight staff tied with knapsack, full of hidden personal items. Again, our Fool in the Rider Waite deck may think he’s given up primal instincts, but remember our white dog, nature’s reminder of the animalistic, he’s along for the ride too.

The Fool may be naive about what they’re getting into, but not everyone leads a life like that. The Fool card is still relevant, for anyone, including the most structured planners. When we embark on any new project or path, we can plan for everything, but there is still an element of the unknown and accident. Changing careers, graduating from college, all manner of life changes are in the domain of the Fool. When encountering this unknown, it does require a leap of faith.

Ultimately, this is a card of immense creation, but don’t let this card be an excuse to jump off a cliff without a parachute or a plan. How many times in your life have you heard this clever plan?

Yep! We’re moving there. Hollywood (or wherever) here I come. I don’t have a job, I don’t have a place to stay. I don’t know anyone there. But, you know. I think everything is going to be okay. I’ll figure it out on when I get there.

This is still in the realm of the Fool card, but isn’t very smart. It easy to confuse the romantic notion of a pioneering, exploring spirit, which most people would agree is a positive, with simply being reckless. When encountering the Fool tarot card, try to figure out the multiple paths to land. Because you’re going to land somewhere.

Tarot aficionados will often use the term “Fool’s Journey” to describe the Fool’s interaction with other trump cards. The first characters the Fool usually meets are card number I and/or card number II, The Magician and/or The High Priestess. But different orders can and will happen. You could, if you wanted to as a way of getting to know the cards, map out the events of The Hero’s Journey to the trump cards of the tarot.

Quick Tip: In your readings, see which card the Fool has a relationship with, or is juxtaposed next to. If the Fool is next to a destructive card*, such as The Tower, be careful as it may be a warning of disaster. Out of the frying pan and into the fire. However, If the Fool gets paired up with The World, then this leap of faith usually has a more benign outcome.

*Yes, I know, save your letters! The power of Tower card can be just what you need in your life. We’ll talk about this at another time.