Welcome to a new series of posts that will compare each card in the Tarot across different decks in order to study and explore each archetype and concept more deeply. This is not necessarily meant to be a teaching tool for others, but if you like to study the Tarot as much as I do, I hope you find it interesting. Enjoy!
A major reference for this study was “Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom” by Rachel Pollack.
This week’s card is the Magician. I have to admit that not all of the cards in the tarot have easy meanings and connections for me, and the Magician is one that I have to use more intuition than others to read, so I’m very happy to study it further here and have more access to its meanings after this. This archetype is about the drive to create and where it comes from, and also how you are or are not able to express it.
Referencing the Rider-Waite-Smith standard image the Magician typically has a representation of all the tools of the minor arcana on a table – a chalice, a coin with a pentacle on it, a staff/wand, and a sword. They represents the fact that the Magician has access to all the tools in order to create. The Magician also has his own wand in his hand which he firmly grasps and points toward the sky while he points the finger of his other hand to the earth. This represents the ability to connect divine energy/inspiration to the act of creation in the world.
Lets explore these concepts through some different representations of this card.
This is the Magician from the Ancestral Path Tarot and its almost dead on the Rider-Waite-Smith version. In this deck the pentacles are replaced with Sacred Circles. The cave paintings in the back to me signify how ancient this archetype and instinct to create is. We as humans have had the need to create representations of what we see around us and what is important to our daily life. This magician wears the robes of several times as well which contributes to that timeliness energy of the card. In the section from Rachel Pollack’s book on the Magician she talks about what happens which we try to hold the power of creation without expressing it, and how that can create insanity because of our need to express ourselves. I think that’s also an important essence of this card when using it in readings. A message to make sure that you are doing one of the things that humans have needed to do to have meaning throughout time and expressing your creative energy in whatever form makes sense for you.
Several folks don’t pick the Santa Muerte deck for readings because of all the skeletons, but look at how much fun this one is having in the creative process. The candles on his hat show a strong flame and connection to the divine. Joy is important to the creative process because it better channels the flow of creative energy. If you are not creating with Joy in your heart this may be where to look with this card.
There are also swords and a big jug of water hanging over him maybe ready to put out this inspirational light, but this magician seems unbothered by the potential to loose inspiration and become blocked. The word “Will” is also put next to the palmistry hand signifying the importance of focus and willpower in this process and archetype. The process of creation is not always such an easy flow between inspiration to manifestation. Sometime you must have willpower and intention to keep the process going.
In the Tarot of the Divine fairytales and mythology are used to represent each of the cards in the deck. For the Magician we see the fairy godmother from the story of Cinderella. In this case the Magician doesn’t create because of divine inspiration. This Magician is there to support someone else with helpful creations that are entirely unexpected, and that act is the inspiration. Its the spark of getting help from out of nowhere right when you need in the most.
When reflecting on this card think about if you are ready to be the fairy godmother to someone else, and that’s where your creative inspiration and joy lies, or if this is what you are in need of. If this is what you are need of maybe look at the tools and materials you already have and if you can manifest any of this yourself.
In the Brady the Magician is referenced by the Raven, and throughout the rest of the deck this Raven shows up in other cards signaling back to the power of creativity. This Raven has a blank banner above it representing the ability to create the first page of a story with the resources available.
The Raven has many tools to carry with it but it grasps each firmly showing not only an instinctual creative energy, but an instinctual confidence.
Never underestimate the importance of storytellers in our societies and communities. They are true magicians and also another kind of architect that brings a dream to reality.
What of your story are you finally ready to tell? What dream can you bring to others by writing it?
I love this card from the Afro Brazilian Tarot because it shows a literal “hand of the divine” touching this man in order for him to create spiritually for his community and congregation. He has a chalice, he has a stake for the sword, he has a plate for the physical world manifestation of this process, but where is the wand?
He is the wand, and his skill is the ability to channel this divine energy into the the world and create. If you were going to focus on becoming a wand and channeling inspiration how would you do it? Through meditation? Through another kind of ritual? By healing so you can continue to unblock and allow more to flow through you?
Ah the Voyager Tarot. Soooooo much imagery in one little card. (Actually the card stock is quite large, but you know what I mean.) This card really does show examples of all the tools, and also how to become a connection between the heavens and the earth.
There are a lot of images here that reinforce the things said above such as the hieroglyphics for both an ancient evidence of the need to create as well as creation in the physical world and not just in our minds. The thing that hits me the most in the card is just how much is there, and how much power can be present.
First, are you clear what your tools are or do you need to first refine them so you can more easily channel them? And also the Magician can always become dangerous and too powerful if he gets greedy or starts to create with ill intent. Make sure you are creating out of joy and not revenge or greed, or the need to seem more powerful.
The Osho Zen Tarot, as always, comes at this card from a completely different angle. It is asking if you feel connected to the universe in the first place perhaps signaling that you are blocked somewhere and unable to create. Are you at home in your own skin or your current environment or do you feel like you are constantly fighting the world or even the universe?
Home is the inner quality of acceptance and relaxation. Fighting to get what we need and pursuing an individual agenda means we have forgotten than there is no separation between ourselves and the universe, and once we can realize that this is an illusion, we can discard that illusion and feel our existence, and our home inside and out.
In this way we create the energy we need to exist and be at home in our own skin, and after that we will feel the flow we need to channel this energy into creation.
Unable to shed the illusion? Follow the advice of the guidebook that comes with this deck and “go out and look at the stars”.
Welcome to a new series of posts that will compare each card in the Tarot across different decks in order to study and explore each archetype and concept more deeply. I will dedicate each article to the exploration of one card at a time. This is not necessarily meant to be a teaching tool for others, but if you like to study the Tarot as much as I do, I hope you find it interesting. Enjoy!
The first card of the Major Arcana is The Fool which is typically shown as a young man with a dog and a knapsack heading out on a journey, sometimes described as an epic journey. The fool traditionally carries a white rose as a symbol of peace and purity. The dog symbolizes the guide within offering divine protection, and the knapsack all of his past experiences and knowledge.
Its one of the foundational Archetypes of the Major Arcana along with the Magician, High Priestess, Empress, Emperor and Hierophant, and this foundation is being completely open to this new journey.
The 0 represents both being open and the process of returning back to the beginning and starting either the first journey, or a new journey from the beginning. The fool is open to all possibilities, even the possibility that things will not work out, or there may be unforeseen obstacles.
Let’s start with this card from the Osho Zen Tarot. In most Fool cards its unclear if the Fool is about to take the first step off a large cliff, or onto a fairly even path. In this card it looks like you are about to take a real leap of faith from the beginning, and without a dog or knapsack to boot! (Luckily you still get the white flower.)
The fool, more than maybe any other archetype, is living completely in the present moment which is where our intuition can function at its peak. He is not concerned with the past or what might happen in the future.
This card goes a little further than the classic image and asks you to consider that any start to any journey, no matter how large or small a trek is just as big of a leap of faith and a surrender to the unknown. Also, you may think you are more prepared with the dog and knapsack at your side, but what you may encounter on this journey may require something you don’t’ already have, and thinking that you are more prepared than you are is a false confidence in the first place.
So take the leap! All by yourself. Your path awaits.
This Fool card from the Santa Muerte Tarot does show a soul with several tools that they think might help them. They are leaving the grave which in this deck would be the nest with their heart on their sleeve and are looking forward to a joyful new journey and transformation represented by the butterfly on their finger.
On one hand its seems an easier start to just step up and out of the nest. On the other hand the place they are leaving was difficult to leave, and this may be a time to recognize the effort that goes into that first step. Or maybe dropping the baggage is the real first step to be able to be on the journey. Will leaving it behind free you up to channel your energy better? What will it take for you to take this first step out of the past?
Another very classic view of the fool from this card from the Lua Tarot. In this deck the card is not called the fool but The Seeker, which is the Golden Dawn Tarot name for the Fool card. This might cause you to ask if you know that your are seeking something and not starting out on the path without awareness of any preconceived intention. The fool does not necessarily carry the idea that they even intend to be on a journey, but the Seeker does. What might the idea of intention bring to your awareness of your own journey?
This card from The Mystical Moments Tarot is even more forthright about the dangers that the woman may encounter on the journey. The aspect of the fool that is being emphasized here is the idea that failure is part of the journey, and if you aren’t willing to be open to failure you are not truly open to the journey in the first place. This is a key aspect to the archetype of the fool.
Additionally the idea of learning is shown here as this person is genuinely curious about her surroundings. She is willing to surrender to the journey to experience life fully. Are you starting your next journey with any fears of failure? If so that will prevent you from connecting fully to the present moment where there is no failure, only opportunity and learning.
In the Afro Brazilian Tarot deck the Fool card is at the end of the Major Arcana. For me it has the connotation of openly coming from your place of power to start the next journey. Its the idea of willingly surrendering again to the journey over and over again no matter how experienced or practiced you feel you might be. There is nothing whimsical about this Fool’s journey here, this man is charging into the unknown in a way that connects to the earth in a very intentional way. Very different than stepping off a cliff into the unknown, but requiring just as much courage and surrender to head out once more and not get too comfortable.
This card also seems to connect with the Osho Zen Tarot concept of the Fool in that no matter how much you are exposed to and learn, you should keep dropping this “baggage” and come back to the present moment to start anew empty handed. Over and over and over again. That is a very pure essence of the Fool archetype.
In the Brady Tarot the fool is represented by a young cowbird who has dropped a feather to test the height of the nest first before heading out on its first journey. It is being helped by a bluebird who is feeding it one last meal before it sets out alone.
In this version of the fool card we are not talking about intuition or intention but instinct that allows this bird to start its journey. What’s the difference? Instinct implies an innate drive toward action and not thought. What would it mean to listen to your instincts versus relying on the more cerebral and spiritual process of intuition or intention? Would using instinct first or for a period of time allow your intuition to grow that much further? Maybe another aspect of the journey is this idea of instinct versus intuition.
The last example I have of the Fool is from the Way Home Tarot. It has more of a first person feel to the card versus all of the others so you could even picture these are your own two feet ready to take the first steps of the journey. Can you spend some time visualizing and meditating on what this journey, this first step, or this quest is? How would this work.
If we go back to the beginning of the article (see what I did there?) we can remember that in order to see the journey and start the journey we must be connected to the present moment. Close your eyes. Create that connection with your breath, drop your baggage, and take that instinctual leap! Be open and ready to leave the last journey behind and start anew.
The lizard has lost its manners and is pulling a grumpy scowl across its face The blue flower strays lackadaisically in the wind Tall towers stroke the sky
We’ve lost our minds but we haven’t yet lost the universe
A half formed thought streaks across the sky in plaid letters What do the letters say? We don’t know. We’ve lost our language and misplaced all our punctuation. We flow through abstract sequences, colors bleeding into other colors. Inanimate objects tell us what to think Until…
We finally hit our head feel our own blood run down our forehead and wake up.
I stood in the dark and winked at myself twice I called to you from beyond a brick wall whispering Laughing underwater, smelling plastic flowers, and chewing on paper tasteless meat are all common things
Sometimes the truth is there but we hide from it and instead we stand winking in the dark
It’s hard to look at what is going on in the world and not see dark times. Especially when there are events that are indeed very dark. But if all we do is despair we are even more out of balance.
For me balance is a verb, not a noun. It’s something I am always activating and expanding into and adjusting. In dark times the way I balance is by adding light to the world in whatever quantity I can muster that day even if its just a tiny flame.
Today’s reading is meant to inspire that spark or flame within so that you in turn can spark that flame in others. It was done by first pulling cards and reading them intuitively, and then pulling two more cards to set an even stronger intention.
The first card is from the Enchanted Map Oracle, and its called Intention. Today I look at this card and I see that the Owl is not trying to prevent the seeds of the dandelion from being spread, and the owl isn’t not trying to force them to spread, but it is holding the dandelion in an intentional direction, so that when the wind blows the direction the seeds are planted is intentional.
What direction are you holding your dandelion? What seeds are you trying to plant, and is that just happening randomly, or can you see a way to be more intentional?
The next card I pulled is from the Way Home Tarot. The six of swords is about making a mental transition or transformation. The start of that journey was difficult, and the events that have transpired so far were not easy to overcome. But now you have a choice, will you continue on in despair or will you choose to transition and intentionally grow in a new direction? Maybe in a direction that brings more light to yourself and others.
One of my favorite cards, again pulled from the Way Home Tarot. The 10 of pentacles speaks to building not only something that strengthens your future, but strengthens the future of generations to come. If you can accomplish the transformation or transition mentioned above, this is what it has the potential to build. A place for everyone at the table. A table of abundance for generations to come, a legacy.
This is what can come from intentionally creating a tiny flame today, that grows into a fire that can warm many, and its why small tasks that can be done today should not be seen as “not enough”. Lots of intentional small flames can create a really strong light and a better balance in the world.
The next card is from the Light Seers Tarot, and I pulled this one intentionally. It reminds me of some people who inspire me, and I pull it to describe one of the tools or attributes they have that allows them to keep moving on their path, and keep lighting flames of hope along the way.
The fool is about having faith enough to start the journey. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said that faith is taking the first step without being able to see the whole staircase. The fool knows this and willingly plunges off the cliff to start the journey. Its a journey where even the first few steps are not entirely known. But when we know that a journey is one of creating light for ourselves and others intentionally, we should have this faith, and take this leap.
Its one of the actions we can take to contribute to our verb of balance. Just taking this leap starts a small spark and puts that into the world.
The last tool and the point of the whole post is the archetype of The Star also intentionally chosen from the Light Seers Tarot. The Star is hope itself, but not in a way that is distant and unreachable. When you find The Star in your life or on your path you find the string that allows you to connect to hope. There may be stages of this. The first stage might be just finding the string in the first place. The second, feeling the connection through the string to that light and that hope, and lastly, being able to add your light to this star that provides hope for all of us.
What tiny flame will you light today as you set an intention and use balance as a verb?