The Magician & His Divine Current
Continuing our one card intensive studies for Holistic Tarot is a bit tough. The Magician is a complicated figure, almost completely aloof. Perhaps this why The Magician in the Rider-Waite Smith deck is put between The Fool’s vibrant energy and The High Priestess’ mysterious and cold persona. Maybe none of that matters at all and I just have difficult connecting with The Magician. Either way, a one card intensive study into this card might actually be extremely beneficial. At the very least, I hope I can help others work through their difficult time relating to The Magician.
One of the most interesting things about my one card study of The Magician has to do with the archetypes involved. What is The Magician’s true archetype? To me, I’ve always related The Magician to Merlin, the one who helps aid King Arthur. But, at the same time, I relate Merlin with The Hermit. Clearly, there is a problem. While Merlin can contain both aspects, it is helpful to separate the two aspects. So, what is The Magician’s true archetype? Where does he truly belong? To answer that, I really had to do some research beyond both Holistic Tarot and Seventy Eight Degrees of Wisdom. And, the best article on the subject I found was this one. It’s an interesting read, definitely take the time to read it for yourself.
Suddenly, The Magician was filled with various archetypes, or sub-archetypes. Is that a thing? Well, if it’s not, I hope it becomes one. Anyway, The Magician went from boring to overwhelming almost immediately. What I did, and what I recommend for other beginners, is finding what naturally stands out to you. Weird as it may sound, I love illusion and magic. When I was sixteen, I wanted to be a magician, even if I knew it wasn’t possible. So, the Stage Magician sub-archetype really speaks to me. Along with that, is the Shaman and Visionary sub-archetypes. It’s interesting how I struggle with the Shaman sub-archetype, and find myself unable to articulate its symbolism. This may be where I run into difficulties concerning The Magician. In many ways, that leaves me spiritually with the Visionary. And suddenly, I feel at home with The Magician.
A while back, I had an amazing thought, and likened The Magician to V’s character from V for Vendetta. If you haven’t seen the movie, I highly recommend it. To me, V is the perfect Magician. His character serves as a good embodiment of the Visionary sub-archetype. V can see where society should be, or at least where it could go. He’s a dreamer, but he’s determined to also see his vision become a reality. In many ways, V for Vendetta as a whole, captures many interesting dynamics within The Fool’s Journey Through the Major Arcana. And even while V’s character is a visionary intent on seeing his “divine” current made into a reality, he must realize it is not his place to make it happen. This is the true essence of The Magician to me.
Many people, myself included, want to be the great change we wish in the world. But, is that really our place? The world doesn’t necessarily belong to us. We all, in our own way, are responsible for the personal worlds we create. But, we don’t get to dictate our visions to or on the masses. The Magician is a current, an idea, but most importantly, a possibility. The Magician shows The Fool what is possible, or what could be. If The Fool truly wants the knowledge, or the vision, The Fool then must proceed onward. This is why glimpses of The Magician onward in the Major Arcana are internal, not external. At least, that’s how I choose to view it. V does not ultimately get to choose the revolution, someone else must make that choice. Similarly, we must all choose to accept the visions we receive, or to ignore them.
But what about the other aspects? Well, interestingly, I see them as a compliment to The Visionary sub-archetype. If The Visionary creates the idea, then The Stage Magician creates the atmosphere. Illusion is so similar to dreaming, but it blurs them closer and closer into reality. If you haven’t seen the movie The Illusionist, then I highly recommend it for this point especially. The movie more or less deals with what we perceive as reality, but what is actually not true. Illusion is a great way to escape, or interestingly enough, to become haunted by our guilt. The Magician can do both of these things, and the archetype overall captures that capability. This is why in the West, we perceive of magicians very negatively and differently than many in the East. Stage Magicians create an atmosphere that often shows us the pending results of our visions.
To tie it all together, I’m left with The Shaman sub-archetype. If I’m thinking in terms of the other sub-archetypes, then I must conclude The Shaman is set apart by his ability to teach. For whatever reason, I have always come across Shaman archetypes in a very different way than most probably do. I see Shamans are a protective force, but also, a deeply enlightened force. This knowledge is typically shared with those who need it most. The Shaman guides and sees what others cannot, and thus, crosses the divide from imagination to reality. If you want a movie for this one, I kind of recommend Billy Jack. It’s an older movie, Billy Jack isn’t much of a Shaman, and yet, he was what my mind thought of immediately. Maybe he’s a modern day Shaman. Maybe he’s my perception of one, I don’t know, you tell me.
The Magician is a complicated archetype to deal with. Interestingly enough, I think it is only possible to grasp The Magician by creating an archetype formula of your own. How do your visions slowly become reality? What divine current is flowing within? Could there be more than you first saw? The Magician begs us to deal with the discomfort and go deeper than first appearances. There’s something about the archetype that speaks to the soul of a person. I don’t think that’s by coincidence. The Magician creates, but what he creates is largely up to you. Manifestation depends on the willpower of the individual, and luckily enough, it also depends largely on what you’re willing to confront. In the end, The Magician might not be too far off from a healing Shaman after all.