The Magician points upward with his staff and down with the other hand, symbolizing his ability to bring spiritual power down to earth. Even though the Magician is the second card in the Major Arcana, he is numbered as one, representing beginnings and initiating new endeavors. The infinity symbol above the Magician’s head represents enlightenment and his acquisition of knowledge. For a belt, the Magician wears a snake that eats its tail, echoing the infinity symbol again. Ruled by the planet Mercury, the Magician is all about intellect, knowledge and will power, and so he possesses all the powers of wing-footed Hermes.
On his table, the four suits of the Tarot are spread before him: a wand, a cup, a coin and a sword. The Magician’s four tools represent the four universal elements: Fire, Water, Earth and Air. Alchemically, the elements align with the four aspects of the self: the Spirit, the Heart, the Body, and the Mind. The Magician’s correct usage of his spiritual power (Fire), his feelings (Water), his body (Earth), and his thoughts (Air), gives him the magical ability to manifest his will.
When this card appears in readings, it usually signifies a good time to take action and to manifest that which you desire. It’s a time for initiating new endeavors and to act knowing that the universe will align with your intentions. The card is creative and positive, optimistic even. It encourages you to approach your goals with an upbeat attitude. If you are asking about a specific life path and the Magician appears, you can take it as a sign that with determination and will power, you can succeed on your chosen path.
While the Magician is a green light to act, it is not an invitation to behave recklessly. The Magician’s actions are never impulsive or wild, they are always calculated and disciplined. He represents balancing the many aspects of ourselves so that we may achieve a spiritual power, and that requires self-mastery. The secret message of this card is that if you master your body, your feelings and your thoughts, you will be granted a spiritual fire that allows you to create the life you imagine. By regulating your emotions, clearing your mind and transcending your identification with your body, you can identify with Spirit and share in its creative power. The very force that animates all of existence can be accessed by you through the disciplined self-mastery of the Magician.
Reversed, the Magician can represent someone who is manipulative, conniving and undisciplined with their personal power. When a reversed Magician appears in your reading, it could indicate that someone is working against you deliberately. It could also indicate that you yourself are wasting your power or are simply not tapping into developing yourself appropriately. If the Magician appears reversed or in a challenge position, now is the time to ask yourself if you are properly using your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual energies or if you’re out of balance.
Much like the Fool, the Magician is secretly a microcosm of the entire Tarot’s wisdom. Containing all four suits, this card establishes the essential teaching that the power to create reality is the natural result of mastery over the various aspects of the self. In these first two cards, the Tarot has shown us the beginning of the journey—when we are just a bright-eyed fool in search of illumination—and the goal—becoming experienced, knowledgable magicians wielding illuminated power. The secret teachings of the Tarot reveal nothing less than the process of journeying from fool to sage, from ignorance to enlightenment, and the Magician essentially lays out the four cornerstones of the path.