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Author: Misty Talen
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The Magician card in Tarot has been interpreted many ways by artists over the years. It is always fascinating what symbolism resonates with the artist and how it is transferred onto paper.
Here we see the Magician in one of his documented appearances from the Visconti-Sforza deck commissioned and published in 1400s. We see a man dressed in Red, Green and White seated before a table containing tools. You sense the opportunity for creation, building a skill or a masterpiece. The colors seen in red and white often represents polarity: good and evil, male and female, light and dark. This figure comes to the table with the possibility to be constructive or destructive. In addition, he comes to his work wearing a touch of green, potentially to represent the fertility of creation.
In modern tarot the Magician is master of all Elements.
The cup represents water and emotion.
The blade represents air and intellect.
The coin represents earth and our physical world.
The rod represents fire and action.
With all of the tools laid out evenly on the work surface, the Magician begins his work. He can create out of these elements wonders or tricks. As with any element of the human condition, there are two sides to every possibility. The Magician, Wizard or Mag as he is known in other decks around the world, is also known as a trickster or a charlatan and takes your money by sweet promises, he is about flashy shows all without substance.
In this way, the Magician warns us of empty vanity.
He is closely tied to his role in guiding the Fool on his journey. The Magician stands at a crossroads, and until now the Fool has moved forward based on his instincts alone. The Magician opens the Fool’s eyes to the possibilities before him on his journey. The Magician moves between worlds, and this is where his correlation to Hermes can be found.
Hermes, the Psychopomp, moves anywhere He wants. Into worlds, out of worlds – above as well as below. He is a traveler and an excellent messenger. He also makes an excellent property redistribution specialist. We also see this aspect reflected in Coyote from Native American lore. The lessons of Hermes, Coyote, or the Magician as we know Him in tarot can be expressed through misdirection and manipulation. However, it is through this forging of self that we find aspects of ourselves that we were previously unaware we possessed. There is strength in that mastery.
By no means am I suggesting we take the hard road every time, but know that somewhere along the way you spoke with your inner or outer Magician (guide) and you choose to take the path you are now on. You can either harness the elements before you and create, or you can let it slip through your hands and go back to the earth.
The choice is entirely yours.