The Fool’s Journey: (I) The Magician/Juggler: I Will


Prospero and his daughter Miranda from The Tempest. William Maw Egley, 1850

Our last card, the Fool, was outside of the established order: playful, chaotic, without direction, naive, sometimes insightful, simple, fancy free. There is wisdom in his approach, but few progress by his methods alone. Thus, we wait patiently for our Fool to cultivate other friends.

The Magician is associated with “Beth” on the Kabbalistic Tree of Life. As such, it is connected to the planet Mercury (Case, 1947). The powers of intellect, logic, science, and communication are all under Mercury’s domain, and influence the meaning of this card. Beth is a letter of breath or communication as well as creation (Gnostic Instructor, 2009). Creation also contributes to the Magician’s persona. But, the Magician has more to offer us than these might suggest!

This card has been known by various names: Le Bateleur, The Juggler, The Magician. In my research and interpretation of this card, there are two main “sub archetypes” that emerge. I shall call these two the Performer and the Mage

Some common themes emerged during my research. The Magician is somebody with know-how and skill;  they will get it done! They know their will and how to use it! They are self aware and confident. Both the Performer and the Mage are:

  • Active-they don’t sit around mulling;
  • wise, knowledgeable;
  • skilled/trained;
  • resourceful
  • knowing what to do, how to do it, and why to do it;
  • understanding of their will and desires;
  • connected to the spiritual as well as the physical;
  • see into the  “inner” qualities of reality
  • seek further wisdom
  • skilled orators;
  • eloquent;
  • clever;
  • cunning;
  • efficacious;
  • self aware;
  • focused, able to concentrate;
  • attentive and observant;
  • diplomatic;
  • charismatic;
  • persuasive;
  • confident in his or her ability
  • *objectivist in philosophythis is in my own opinion!

The difference is in how they choose to use these “powers”, as well as a few characteristics unique unto each. The Performer is a public figure; the Mage can work in the world and may well be in the public eye, but the true work is done behind the scenes.

The Performer

Le Bateleur from the Marseilles deck

Le Bateleur from the Marseilles deck

Performers can be tricksters. Unlike the Fool, their “tricks” are done before your eyes, not behind your back (Nichols, 1980). Their “tricks” can also go either way: they may bring you insight or they may steal your purse!

Performers ask you to look at something through the lens of imagination. Whether it’s true alchemy or the practiced ability to palm a card, the Performer will dazzle us with his ability, beguile us with his words, and pull the wool over our eyes (or remove it) with his nimble fingers. They know their art (no matter what it is) very well, and what seems “mysterious” or “complex” to us is elementary to them. They can be playful, cunning, and deceiving but also knowledgeable, wise, and resourceful. They may have sinister motives. Then again, he or she may be a neophyte who has let a little gain go to their head. Still yet, they may be entirely genuine and wise, sharing their knowledge in a whimsical demonstration. The performer can manifest in many ways.

Either way, they transport us to a “different” reality-at least, we suppose they do! While we gasp in awe at the flexibility of an acrobat at Cirque de Soleil or at the argument of a skilled attorney, we may realize that the world created by the performer (the scene on the stage or the perspective of the attorney) is actually our own world, only now certain illusions have been stripped from it.

And there’s the rub: you have to figure out whether the performance you are watching is creating an illusion or removing one!

Many authors use the car salesman as a prime example of the performer (and I think  Harry Wormwood is indeed a good example of a sinister performer). Another example would be politicians. Politicians are generally learned men and women who are good public speakers. Their trickery (if and when it occurs) is harder to discover as they may have inside information that the public is not privy to! Not all performers have bad intentions, however. Some politicians really are sharing knowledge for our benefit. Another previously mentioned example might be a lawyer.

The Mage

The tools on his table are his tools in life: Cups (emotions/spirit), Pentagram (matter/financial assets/knowledge), Sword (logic/intellect), Wand/Staff (Creativity/Inspiration/Will). In some traditions, the staff and sword's associations are switched

The tools on his table are his tools in life: Cups (emotions/spirit), Pentagram (matter/financial assets/knowledge), Sword (logic/intellect), Wand/Staff (Creativity/Inspiration/Will). In some traditions, the staff and sword’s associations are switched

The image at the start of this post is of Prospero, the magician from Shakespeare’s The Tempest. He is an excellent example of a Mage. The Mage is also the ceremonial magician. He or She is the alchemist: searching for spiritual truths inherent in the secrets of the physical. The Mage knows his Will and how to use it! She knows her methods, her self, and her tools (see the caption on the image). Earlier in history, “magic”, “alchemy”, and other endeavors were seen as a form of science by many. Today, we might decide that a scientist also falls into the “Mage” archetype: He or she quests for knowledge, is skilled and well trained, and is able to get things done.

The Mage directs or channels the energies of the universe as well as his or her own will. Alchemists searched for the ability of transmutation, which boiled down to knowing how to manipulate energy and material. On another side of this Magician’s die is the magician who knows his materials, methods, and abilities. He is practiced and disciplined. He has explored the universe and its mysteries to the best of his ability. Now, he knows his craft unlike any other. Using his knowledge and skill, he can cause change or create new materials or situations. He does this by using energy from above (from God, the gods, the universe) and directing it to his purposes. He understands how to call down or connect to this energy and manipulate it.

Thus, the Mage is also creative: he can use his abilities to manifest his desires. He or she is a creative problem solver, determined and skilled at creation. He or she is also confident in their abilities because they have taken the time to know the true nature of our world and our selves.

The Mage asks us to question what we see and to find the spiritual element in matter. Alchemists used their philosophies for physical transmutation for their process of spiritual transmutation as well. Many reference the popular Hermetic phrase, “as above, so below”. The Mage is on an inner journey: he is seeking mastery and knowledge of his own thoughts and self. He has journeyed into the self and swam its deepest depths.He is the first step on our inner journeys: knowing ourselves, finding our Will, believing in our abilities, and learning to use the suits in the Tarot to have an effect in our lives and on our world. The Mage has control over her self as well as her world.

An example of a Mage might be Carl Jung: someone who searched for wisdom using his craft. He asked us to look again at various psychological phenomena for hidden or esoteric meaning. He wanted to know himself and understand his humanity, and use that knowledge to better the world. Nikola Tesla is another great example: he knew his craft. He knew what to do and why you did it, and with his skill and expertise accomplish unfathomable feats! Prospero, as previously mentioned, is another wonderful Mage!

You may notice the asterisk by the last bullet: objectivist philosophy. This is an interpretation of my own invention. The Magician seeks knowledge of the self and the world; he or she wishes to perfect his or her craft. They seek to manifest change in accordance with their will. They are not the ones to denounce or condone actions, per se. They see actions objectively, for what they are and the consequences they may bring. At this point in the fool’s journey, the emphasis is on finding Confidence, Will, Skill, Knowledge, and Power. Any ethical studies are unique to each performer or mage. Not every magician will concern himself with such; its more of a cause and effect view of the world.


Alchemist at work

In my life, this card seems to point in one specific direction: practice your skill and believe in yourself! Learn how to direct your efforts effectively! Know thyself and thy abilities! Never stop learning and experimenting! Though Magicians are all about educating themselves, they are very hands on learners.

Either the Performer or the Magician must keep his ego in check and watch out for arrogance. He must truly know himself: this means recognizing when you don’t really know what you are talking about and when your head is swollen! It means realizing when you have failed.

Over all, this card pushes us to get our hands dirty and DO something. Learn about it, practice it, and understand yourself and your abilities. It also tells us to look deeper than surface veneers; there is a spiritual world or simply a deeper truth to which to connect. Don’t let yourself be hoodwinked! Learn how to harness your power and your will, and you are unstoppable!



Bunning, Jone. (2007). The Magician. Retrieved from

Case, Paul Foster. (1947). The Tarot: A Key to the Wisdom of the Ages. Penguin Group. New York, NY. 38-46.

Crowley, Aleister. The Book of Thoth. Weiser Books. Boston, MA. 1944. pp 69-72.

Esselmont, Brigit. (2013). Magician Tarot Card Meanings. Retrieved from

Gnostic Instructor. “Beth”. Retrieved from

Louis, Anthony. (1996) Tarot Plain and Simple. Llewellyn. Woodbury, MN. pp 54-56.

Nichols, Sallie. (1980). Jung and tarot: An archetypal journey. Weiser Books. Sang Francisco, CA. pp 22 – 43.

Rioux, James. (2000). The Magician. Retrieved from

Solandia. (2013). Magician. Retrieved from

Vinefica, Avia. (2011). Magician: Tarot Card Meaning. Retrieved from

YP Intellectual Property, LLC. (2013). The Magician Tarot Card. Retrieved from


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