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The Major Arcana In-Depth: 1 The Magician

This is an article in a series in blog posts…. the “The Major Arcana In-Depth” series! Every few weeks I will be featuring one card of the Major Arcana, from the Fool to the World. Come take a tarot journey with me!

To learn about the Major Arcana overall and the first card in the Major Arcana, The Fool, go here.

The Magical Magician

The Magician is numbered One, making him the very first stop on the Fool’s journey through the Major Arcana. When I say Magician, I’m not talking about “hocus pocus” and “abracadabra”… I’m talking an alchemical worker. The Magician is often depicted with one arm pointing toward the ground and the other arm pointing to the sky, evoking the axiom “As above, so below”. In front of him is a table with representations of the four elements on it. Often he has the infinity symbol over his head.

The Magician is all about will and the nature of change.

When I see the Magician, I am often struck by the feeling that the client has all the tools they need (whether they know it or not). The question becomes “which is more important: the tools you have set before you or the will to change?”

Keywords: will, energy, magic, teacher or mentor

Applicable Quotes: “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”—Buddhist proverb

Traditional Meanings

The meeting of a new teacher or mentor. The Fool is at his first stop in the Major Arcana, and his first “life experience”. The Magician is the very first person that The Fool looks up to and trusts. When upright, the trust is genuine and well-placed… reversed and the faith in your teachers may be misplaced or strongly tested.

Personal Meanings

What I think of when I see the Magician: This depends on the client, the reading, and the other cards in the reading. But overall, I tell the client to be on the lookout for a new teacher or mentor. Sometimes that teacher isn’t even a physical person but a life experience or even the client themselves. The Magician can also be a reminder that we have all the tools at our disposal AND the will to make things happen.

When the Magician is reversed (upside down) in a reading, I warn clients that trickery is afoot. Someone is portraying themselves as wiser than they actually are. Keep in mind however that tricksters often have their own way of teaching lessons.

When The Magician Shows Up in a Reading

Upright: a new teacher or mentor, the willpower and know-how to make things happen

Reversed: trickery is afoot, slight-of-hand, misrepresentation


Ultimately, if/when you read for yourself, please keep the things I listed above in mind… and if you disagree, PLEASE use your own meanings for this card. Your thoughts on each individual card are invaluable, and lead you to a multi-layered understanding of the tarot that no one individual book/Little White Book/teacher can give you. Your experience with the cards counts, too!

Tarot class dismissed!

Image courtesy of nirots /

How do you relate to The Magician? Did you meet a new teacher? Share your experiences in the Comments section below.

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