For centuries magicians have been viewed as the ultimate showmen. Their charisma, charm, eccentricity and flair for captivating performance have made them highly popular amongst an inquisitive and excited public. However, where magic goes, scandal tends to follow, and over the years we've seen books and TV shows that have attempted to work out the secrets of the stunts and expose magicians as frauds and tricksters. These days it's widely accepted that magician's magic is a trick of the eye, made possible through impressive slight of hand. But in some cultures and traditions, this kind of illusory magic is used to extort money or give people false hope. The relationship between what we see and what we choose to believe is complex and often poses deep and difficult questions. The Magician card refers to this theme quite directly.
In the Tarot the magician is a figure of intrigue, imagination, creativity and great power. He is a leader, he can inspire others to fulfil their potential and he can influence people to mobilise, to achieve greater goals and to dream bigger dreams. Under the magician's influence you are confident and capable. The card can often suggest that you are in possession of a particularly productive energy but could be unsure of how to use it. The Magician has an audience and a platform from which to teach and captivate the masses. However, there is a dark side to this figure too. He is also the trickster. He represents liars, loan sharks, chancers and gamblers. He can sweet-talk and manipulate. He can make reality seem other to what it really is. This figure represents Loki and Pan - the gods of deception and cruel jokes. So, the card works on two levels. It encourages us to move forward productively with the capabilities we have but it also warns us to be alert and on the look out for what seems too good to be true.
This card celebrates knowledge, tuition and intellect. It also highlights matters of travel and discovery. It harnesses the energy of movement and symbolises the importance of living life to the full. But it also asks us to consider how we obtain what we have. Do we hurt anyone to get our own way? Do we operate under the radar in order to avoid detection? Do we manipulate or skew the facts?
Although it's important to live life on our own terms and to stay curious, it's also reasonable to assume that being underhanded in our dealings with others is counter-productive and can come back to haunt us. The Magician could be warning you of an unsavoury character or situation in your life and asking you to question your way of dealing with this problem. The Magician is about messages too. It asks us if the signals we're sending out to others are the ones we intend to send. Are people getting a true idea of who we really are? What is real about a given situation and what is just smoke and mirrors? If this card comes up in a spread where a querent is questioning someone's real intentions or feelings, it could be encouraging transparency and honesty in their dealings with that person. Being genuine and true to your word is a good way of ascertaining if the other person is willing to do the same or if they're just playing a game.
This card is complex and has many different associations. I struggled with it on and off for years and am only just beginning to understand the true depth of its message. The strength we carry within us to be able to work out what's going on beneath the surface events is key under this influence and we should hone it like any other skill. Essentially, I think that The Magician is speaking to us about the vitality and hope that can be found when we peel back all of the layers and get to the core of the issue. Truth is subjective, of course, but we can always strive to find our version of it and to be clear about it when we do.