Waking The Tarot: The Magician

In this series I’m looking at each Major Acana card in the Tarot deck, one at a time, to get to know them better. Rather than focussing on the traditional meanings of the cards I’m connecting to the intuitively, so join me and let’s wake up the Tarot together.

Looking to learn the traditional meanings? I recommend Joan Bunnings Learning The Tarot site, which is the one I return to again and again.

Today we have The Magician, card 1 of the Major Arcana. Here he is in the Ryder-Waite-Smith deck:

Signs and symbols

Who is this powerful, confident man, working at an alter of sacred tools? The Magician oozes self-belief. He’s a man in touch with his personal power, ready, willing and absolutely able to bring about the change he desires in the world. Maybe he’s also a bit pleased with himself; I swear I can see a little smile playing about his lips.

The objects on the alter represent the elements of water (cup), air (sword), earth (coin) and fire (the wand or staff). In balance they contain the potential to be anything but they need some extra ingredients: Imagination and will. The Magician has both of these in abundance and he knows it. He’s pointing one hand to the heavens and one to the earth, uniting and channelling ancient energies.

As humans we are powerful beings, and we have it in us to direct our energy – which connects into the life force we’re all part of – for good or bad, and to make a massive impact either way. In The Magician I see ambiguity: He’s neither good nor bad, but he is a conduit for power, and that power, judging from the infinity symbol over his head, is endless and abundant.

With The Magician it’s like we’re looking at a snapshot of a scene just before something of magnitude happens. A spell is being worked, the energy is building, ready to be directed by a crystal clear intention any minute now. What will that intention be? What’s going to be sparked off?

Looking deeper

Turning to the Sacred Destiny oracle deck I’ll pull out two cards to get to know The Magician better.

We have:

  • Going Forward
  • Freedom

These really do pull out the essence of The Magician, a forward looking, self-willed card.

Going Forward

The Magician doesn’t look back. He’s a man gathering and directing energy in the present to impact on what’s going to happen next. In this oracle card we can see all four elements again: Earth in the hills, fire in the sun, air in the clouds and water in the vapour rising from the ground. This reminds me of the balance of The Magician as he is mixing up the energies of all the elements.

There’s also the ambiguity of The Magician card; just as we can’t tell what he’s going to do with his power, we can’t see where the path is leading on the Going Forward card. There are dark clouds building on the horizon…but there are also patches of blue sky, and a fierce sun.


There’s a bird spreading it’s wings and flying free in this card, which makes me think of The Magician’s wide-flung arms. He’s open to recieve, he’s not closed in or protecting himself and he’s not afraid to be out in the open.

I feel that the flock of birds in the background of the Freedom card is a reminder that no matter how much power The Magician has he’s not working in isolation. It doesn’t matter how independent he is, everyone is impacted by the people around them. That can be the deciding factor in how that personal power will be used, the social influence we’re all subject to. That can be a good and wonderful thing, or it can be dangerous and destructive. The flock we fly with can help us climb to new heights or bring us down to roost too soon, in the wrong place, forgetting we can fly. If we want to be free we have to use our personal power wisely.

Your turn

Find The Magician in your Tarot deck. Why has he gathered together these magical tools? What does he intend to do? How do you feel when you look at this snapshot of gathering power?

I hope you enjoyed this look at the Major Arcana Tarot cards with me. I’ll be doing every card in order, so if you’d like to work through it with me sign up for my newsletter at the bottom of the page and I’ll let you know when I’ve posted about a new card.

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