Tarot Card Meanings: The Magician

Welcome to the world of magic, where the Magician has been pulled in your reading and you are very curious as to what he has to tell you. What does he mean, what does the card have to show you? We will explore the meaning and the history behind the Magician today and use two different decks to tell his story.

The Magician (I), also known as The Magus or The Juggler, is the first trump or Major Arcana card in most traditional Tarot decks. It is used in game playing as well as in divination. In divination it is considered by some to succeed The Fool card.

THE MAGICIAN CARD MEANING: In your traditional Deck

The Magician card in Tarot symbolizes male power of creation through willpower and desire. The Magician wears red and white clothes. The basic card symbols are the lemniscate (a figure eight on its side symbolizing eternal life and eternity), a small wand, a table displaying a chalice symbolizing knowledge and preservation, a pentacle, staff, and sword.

The Magician : Wild Unknown Tarot
Deck Creator’s Keywords: action, self-empowerment, purpose, creation, yang energy, doing

One interpretation of the Wild Unknown’s Magician is this:

Mythologically, the leopard is known for exuding confidence and independence. Seshat, the ancient Egyptian goddess who invented writing, wore leopard skin. Leopards have long been heralded as powerful and capable creatures.

This Magician is proud and alert; he has a powerful stance and his gaze is focused. He is sizing up his surroundings, not with any urgency, but with a natural awareness of all that is at work around him. Surrounding the leopard are rays of orange and yellow light – colors that convey active energy and vitality. The rays emanate out from a singular point in the distance. This shows a concentration of energy which was previously undirected (as we saw with the Fool) but which is now available to the Magician through his understanding of the four tools before him. The Magician has an innate ability to tap into – and actively channel – infinite energy.

The lemniscate symbol appears on his chest. We’ll see this symbol on a few more cards from the Wild Unknown tarot (it also appears on several cards in the Rider-Waite tradition). This symbol is sometimes referred to as ‘the infinity sign’ suggesting the never-ending nature of all life and all matter. This symbol also shows the ways that the wisdom and archetypes within tarot transcend space and time – this is why the cards have resonated with so many people for so long. The tarot goes through different incarnations and different artistic interpretations, but its core messages always remain relevant.

The four suits of the deck – sword, pentacle, cup and wand – are laid out in front of the Magician. The Magician is attuned to the dynamic nature of life, and these four suits are the emblems of that dynamic nature. His front paws rest on the pentacle, suggesting his ability to take raw materials and create something tangible. 

He faces right, a direction that is symbolically linked to activity and conscious awareness. He is ready to act not out of stress, but out of intention. The Magician shows the power of directing your energy wisely, and the importance of having confidence in your abilities. Your greatest skill is in knowing that you are an empowered creator. 

The Magician Tarot Card Meanings in General

In other traditional decks, the Magician is depicted as a human figure with one hand pointed towards the sky and one hand pointed towards the ground. This invokes the spiritual axiom “as above, so below.” This implies a deep understanding that the true nature of the universe is creative. And as a creative being inhabiting the universe, our true nature is to create in whatever way speaks to us. The Magician takes these etheral spiritual principles and applies them to mundane life in our world. The Magician shows that your highest potential unfolds when your ego (or conscious awareness) is aligned with spiritual energy.

The Magician is archetypical yang energy. This card is about light, conscious awareness, masculinity (not in a gender sense, but in an energetic sense), and action. It is worth noting that the energy of the Magician is intricately linked to the energy of the High Priestess. As the first two cards in the tarot deck, they lay the groundwork for the sweeping concepts of “yin” and “yang” energy that is explored in various manifestations throughout the rest of the cards.

In a reading

In a reading, the Magician can speak to the power of concentration. Where is your attention being placed? The direction of your concentration may need to be re-adjusted towards your capabilities. Instead of looking to what you do not have or what you wish you had, the Magician invites you to pay attention to all that you DO have. Too often we sit around waiting for life to happen to us. The Magician invites YOU to happen to LIFE. This is how you step fully in to your radiating power.

The four suits present in the card speak to your mental, physical, emotional and creative energy. Are you purposefully paying attention to these aspects of yourself? It is time to check-in with how you are distributing those various energies. Make sure you are doing so with conscious intent, giving your power and your energy to things that really matter. 

The Magician shows that you can be a conscious creator. Be willing to take action when you know what needs to be done. When you walk purposefully through life, awakened to the always-present light of your creativity, you are embodying the ways of the Magician. You are capable of directing unlimited universal creativity through your consciousness – let yourself step fully and confidently into that truth.

Upright Magician Meaning

The Magician is the representation of pure willpower. With the power of the elements and the suits, he takes the potential innate in the fool and molds it into being with the power of desire. He is the connecting force between heaven and earth, for he understands the meaning behind the words “as above so below” – that mind and world are only reflections of one another. Remember that you are powerful, create your inner world, and the outer will follow.

Remember that you are powerful, create your inner world, and the outer will follow.

When you get the Magician in your reading, it might mean that it’s time to tap into your full potential without hesitation. It might be in your new job, new business venture, a new love or something else. It shows that the time to take action is now and any signs of holding back would mean missing the opportunity of becoming the best version of yourself. Certain choices will have to be made and these can bring great changes to come. Harness some of the Magician’s power to make the world that you desire most.

Upright Love MeaningUpright Career MeaningUpright Finances Meaning
creating opportunities for love, being proactive in loveharnessing career opportunities, determination and drivepursuing financial opportunity, making use of skills

Upright Magician Tarot Meaning: Love

As with its general meaning, the Magician tarot meaning in love indicates making things manifest. Skill, creativity, desire and determination will bring success in love. Should you be searching for love, the Magician suggests you take action and create opportunities to meet someone who you desire. Because the Magician in tarot also represents resourcefulness and skill, it is also still important to make sure that no deception or illusions are at work. For both singles and couples, the Magician brings excitement and a desire to experiment.

Career Meaning – Upright Magician

There are likely to be opportunities in your midst, and you may be able to harness them if you take decisive action. The Magician is the card of manifestation, meaning should you have the desire and commitment to pursue whatever it is you want in your career, you’re likely to find success. Look behind any successful person, and you’ll likely find intense willpower and drive; this is the root of all ambition. The same goes if you’re looking to start a business; harness that drive, and keep it motivated to manifest your dream career. Sometimes, if this card represents another person, such as a colleague or business partner, you may want to approach with caution, as they may not be everything they appear to be.

Finances Meaning – Upright Magician

There can be increased financial opportunities available right now, you’ll likely just need to pursue them with gusto. The magician works with many tools to make his will manifest. Try and take a look at the tools you have available; they can be the key for you now. What skills do you have? What abilities are you not putting to use right now? Being creative can yield results.

Reversed Magician Meaning

When you obtain the Magician reversed, it might mean its time for you to implement some changes. While right side up, the Magician represents true power, the reversed Magician is a master of illusion. The magic that he performs is one of deception and trickery. You may be lured in by the showmanship of his arts, but behind that there may be an intention to manipulate for selfish gain. Getting this card might mean that there is someone who pretends to have your best interests at hand when the opposite is true. 

Consider whether this reversed the magician is in your circle, or perhaps might also represent your current state of emotions. It may mean you may become obsessed with power and that might lead to wrong, reckless decisions that will lead to your eventual downfall. 

Reversed Love MeaningReversed Career MeaningReversed Finances Meaning
romantic illusion, romantic trickery, low willpower for lovewasted talent, unwillingness to take chances, workplace deceptionmissed financial opportunity, not using skills for financial gain

Reversed Magician Tarot Meaning: Love

In reverse, the Magician tarot meaning in love can signal that not everything may be what it seems. When it comes to new relationships, you may want to make sure you truly know your new lover. Even if he or she seems perfect, this could be an illusion or performance. Alternatively, the reversed Magician in love can indicate that your low confidence or a lack of willpower, or an inability to manifest your relationships, creating insecurity when it comes to romance and love.

Career Meaning – Reversed Magician

Are you really putting all of your talents to use right now? Are there any skills that your current career trajectory is ignoring? There are likely lots of opportunities for you to advance, if you were to really use your true potential. You may already feel this, but perhaps are too afraid to take the plunge, as it can be a risky move. You’ll need to take a closer look at what the real risks are, and understand whether your fears are truly grounded in reality, or whether they stem from a different source. Sometimes this card can also indicate that the people in your workplace may not be completely honest, or may have hidden agendas. If your gut instinct is telling you this, trust it; be wary about how much you share around them. 

Finances Meaning – Reversed Magician

If your finances aren’t quite what you hoped they would be right now, it may be that you’re not putting your best foot forward. You may have energy or talents that are being wasted, and you will only need to grow your confidence to put yourself out there. You may lack the willpower to transform your talents into money. Remain cautious around others, when it comes to sharing details about your financial situation. 

The Magician’s History

n French Le Bateleur, “the mountebank” or the “sleight of hand artist”, is a practitioner of stage magic. The Italian tradition calls him Il Bagatto or Il Bagatello. The Mantegna Tarocchi image that would seem to correspond with the Magician is labeled Artixano, the Artisan; he is the second lowest in the series, outranking only the Beggar. Visually the 18th-century woodcuts reflect earlier iconic representations, and can be compared to the free artistic renditions in the 15th-century hand-painted tarots made for the Visconti and Sforza families. In the painted cards attributed to Bonifacio Bembo, the Magician appears to be playing with cups and balls.

In esoteric decks, occultists, starting with Oswald Wirth, turned Le Bateleur from a mountebank into a magus. The curves of the magician’s hat brim in the Marseilles image are similar to the esoteric deck’s mathematical sign of infinity. Similarly, other symbols were added. The essentials are that the magician has set up a temporary table outdoors, to display items that represent the suits of the Minor Arcana: Cups, Coins, Swords (as knives). The fourth, the baton (Clubs) he holds in his hand. The baton later stands for a literal magician’s “wand“.

The illustration of the Tarot card “The Magician” from the Rider-Waite tarot deck was developed by A. E. Waite for the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in 1910. Waite’s magician features the infinity symbol over his head, and an ouroboros belt, both symbolizing eternity. The figure stands among a garden of flowers, to imply the manifestation and cultivation of desires.

In the tarot game

In most tarot games, the Bagatto is the lowest ranking trump card but worth a lot of points. Therefore, many players want to take a trick when it is played. In most games played out of Italy, winning the last trick with it awards bonus points.

In tarocchini, the Bégato still serves as the lowest trump but it has an added ability. During score counting, it and the Fool can function as limited wild cards known as counters (contatori). They can be used separately or together to fill missing gaps in combinations but they can’t fill in two consecutive gaps in sequential combinations. They can’t replace the highest trump or kings. Both cards can be used in every sequence but as the Fool can’t be captured while the Magician is vulnerable, the player holding the Magician would want to use it only judiciously.

In Sicilian tarocchi, the Bagatto is the second lowest trump, outranking an unnumbered trump called Miseria of no significance.

Symbolism

In the Magician’s right hand is a scroll raised toward heaven, the sky or the element æther, while his left hand is pointing to the earth. This iconographic gesture has multiple meanings, but is endemic to the Mysteries and symbolizes divine immanence, the ability of the magician to bridge the gap between heaven and earth. On the table in front of the Magician the symbols of the four Tarot suits signify the Classical elements of earth, air, fire and water. Beneath are roses and lilies, the flos campi and lilium convallium,changed into garden flowers, to show the culture of aspiration.

The Magician is associated with the planet Mercury.

Divination

According to Lionnet, when the Magician appears in a spread, it points to the talents, capabilities and resources at the querent‘s disposal. Depending on the card’s placement in relation to other cards, the message is to tap into one’s full potential rather than holding back, especially when there is a need to transform something. There are choices and directions to take. Guidance can arrive through one’s own intuition or in the form of someone who brings about change or transformation.

According to A. E. Waite‘s Pictorial Key To The Tarot, the Magician card is associated with:

Skill, diplomacy, address, subtlety, pain, loss, disaster, snares of enemies; self-confidence, will; [it signifies] the Querent, if male. Reversed: Physician, mental disease, disgrace, disquiet.

Waite writes that this card signifies the divine motive in man.

Overview:

The Magician is one tarot card that is filled with symbolism. The central figure depicts someone with one hand pointed to the sky, while the other hand points to the ground, as if to say “as above, so below”. This is a rather complicated phrase, but its summarization is that earth reflects heaven, the outer world reflects within, the microcosm reflects the macrocosm, earth reflects God. It can also be interpreted here that the magician symbolizes the ability to act as a go-between between the world above and the contemporary, human world. 

On his table, the magician also wields all the suits of the tarot. This symbolizes the four elements being connected by this magician – the four elements being earth, water, air, and fire. The infinity sign on his head indicates the infinite possibilities of creation with the will.

Conclusion:

The Magician is a card that connects you to infinite possibilities, both with yourself as a person and your higher self on a different level. It can be a great card in many different ways, even its reversed does not always mean there is a “bad” intent to this card, it could simply mean you have not reached your full potential as an individual.

Until Next Time,

LunaOwl ~J


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