A young man, wearing a red cape and a headband, stands behind a table and raises in his right hand a double-tipped wand. The tips might be flames, or they might be gleaming quartz crystals. He’s looking straight at you. Yes, you! Meet The Magician, the bridge between the visible world and the invisible world. No mere entertainer, he conjures up wonders. He is the creator who manifests whatever is in your spiritual or intellectual “bank account” of hopes, dreams, and ideas. The symbolism is apt: One of his hands is raised toward heaven and the other points to the earth, rich with flowers.
Of the 22 Major Arcana cards, in Tarot, The Magician is numbered “1,” so it’s pretty plain he’s important to the Tarot. Actually, the whole process of Tarot reading is ruled by The Magician. On the table in front of him are symbols of all four suits in the Tarot deck, Cups, Wands, Swords and Pentacles: a cup, a wooden wand with live green leaves, a sword and a pentacle, which is a golden coin stamped with a star. Notice, too, that The Magician with his red cape and direct gaze, and the golden background, commands not only heavenly forces but our full attention.
The Magician appearing in your reading, with the card upright, means one of three things:
- You have, or soon will have or share in, a great idea. This might be a new discovery, business venture, or a positive life change that will prod you to rebuild your outlook and activities from the ground up, for your betterment. The Magician makes your idea into a tangible reality. If he shows up in your past, you have already had the great idea and are pondering what to make of it.
- A young man. The Magician, in the Rider-Waite deck and many others, is pictured as a beardless male, perhaps in his twenties or even his late teens. Very often, The Magician in a reading represents a son or other young adult male. He is usually a relative or a platonic friend rather than a lover, so if he’s in your future, expect to interact with a young guy with great ideas and big plans he will share—but he will be so preoccupied with the world he is creating that he isn’t seeking romantic companionship at this time.
- You are The Magician. If this card appears in the present or future, it’s saying that now is the moment to gather your powers and apply your energy and creative talents toward a goal. This card is a good omen for all types of success. If the card is in the future, your magic moment is coming. Focus on your goal and events will coalesce and bring forth what is needed, such as money, people, or courage. If this card shows up in the past, you have already seized your moment and applied your best powers to it.
Occasionally I have seen The Magician signify one more thing, not so positive: a younger man who’s cleverly managed to manipulate a group of people, often his family, to wait on him and fulfill his needs although he is capable of supporting himself. He might be, for example, a wayward or substance-abusing son that the family can’t bear to kick out onto the street where he belongs. He knows what buttons to push to make Mom or the family feel guilty or responsible. If this is the case, The Magician will be one of the first three cards appearing in a reading. He has fixed it so that whole world revolves around him.
The Magician card, reversed, generally means one of four things, depending on its position in the reading, and the cards surrounding it:
- A bad idea. Sometimes ideas are simply half-baked and not destined to work out, no matter how much energy is applied to them, like inventor Nikola Tesla’s portable earthquake machine. If, for example, you’re thinking of walking the Appalachian Trail solo with no training and no gear, The Magician reversed is telling you it’s not a good idea—at least not right now.
- A sleazy young man. The Magician upright is the god Mercury who flew on winged feet and delivered messages from the gods. The Magician reversed is the Trickster who fools people and uses them. If The Magician reversed appears in your future, the Tarot is urging you to avoid a young man of questionable character; his motives aren’t pure. If this card appears reversed in a position describing your past, you’ve already met him, and he did his best to make a monkey out of you.
- Lack of resources. Sometimes tremendous ideas simply can’t be pursued at this time. Maybe you want to open your own storefront or school, but it’s not practical, or the energies won’t line up. There are delays, long negotiations, legal issues, repairs, child care issues, or credit problems. Or you want to plan a big family reunion for the summer but no one seems able to cooperate. The right time will come, but not this year. It’s a fine idea, but release it for now.
- You’re scared of your own power. A lack of faith or self-belief results in fear of success or fear of failure that stops positive momentum cold.
Almost all Magician cards, no matter what image the deck uses (and The Magician can be elderly or female), show above The Magician’s head the symbol of infinity. The possibilities for creation and manifestation are, of course, infinite; they come from above. When this card is reversed, it indicates that this idea or person will cause troubles that will echo maybe not exactly to infinity but down the corridors of time.
This is always a powerful card in any reading, and the cards surrounding it in the spread, particularly those preceding and following it, tell the reader much more about you. Always ask your Tarot reader for clarification if you have any questions.