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Comparative Study:1 - The Magician

Thread originally posted on the Aeclectic Tarot Forum on 11 Sep 2003, and now archived in the Forum Library.

Dark_angel  11 Sep 2003 
I thought that this was such a good idea that we should keep going with it; what does everyone else think?

My deck's the Adrian Tarot again.

To me, this is a fascinating card. Many Magicians are depicted in bright or strong colours, flaunting thier powers, but not this one - he is entirely in shades of grey, muted. He may hold great power due to his mastery of the elements, but he has sacrificed much along the way. Behind him is the face of the male Lover, suggesting that our Magician has lost out on relationships due to his pursuit of knowledge. He stands alone, with the symbols of the elements in front of him. Do they act as a shield - is he hiding behind his intellect so he appears stronger than he is? Or are they an unwitting barrier - does he use them to impress people and instead drive them away? Around his head circle eight planets; the ninth and the Sun are spheres on each end of his wand. These show the potential of this lonely genius; he could reach out and rearrange the planets, understand the Cosmos. Yet he shows no inclination towards doing so; he seems to be waiting for someone to share in the experience. He doesn't want to be alone.

He speaks to me of great intellect and creativity, but also of the isolation and sadness that such gifts always bring. 

Little Baron  11 Sep 2003 
Dark Angel, you should write a book for this deck!!!

Your interpretations of the Adrian deck are so deep, original, thought provoking and bring these cards to life. You are so tuned to them and your work with the deck proves that intuition is the tarot readers biggest asset.

So beautifully described. Look forward to reading more.

Best wishes


*Thanks for carrying on these threads* 

catti  12 Sep 2003 
An adrongynous tatooed faced being points with right hand to the ground left hand has an uprised wand. the sword , the chalice and the coin levatate in front of the magician surrounded by a white aura of energy. above the magician is a lemniscate appearing out of the same aura energy...The magician is wearing flowind many coloured robes which (per LWB) conceal more than they reveal...on the head of the magicain is a cat tiara which obviously has meaning for the deck...even if you dont like cats per se one can appreciate the power and mystery that is conveyed by this card...
the idea of charlatan ; of carnival trickery ; has been dismissed
this card speaks of mastery and power... of overcoming ego and gender limitations to excersize one's true force in the world. 

WolfyJames  12 Sep 2003 
The Enchanted Tarot (Zerner-Farber) - I The Magician

The Magician stands outdoor. There is deep and rich gold tapestry around the card. The Magician is elegantly dressed, with rich, expansive and colorful cloth, blue, pink and purple. His cloths represent his energy, his emotions and thoughts being in his flesh. His pointy hat attracts the cosmic forces. On his belt are the pentacles, the wand, the sword and the cup, showing his power over these elements.

Through an occult ritual, the Magician, well concentrated, throws his energy as fire with his hand. With the fire, he is an alchemist, having control over the elements, and having the power to change and alter all that exists. A musical instrument is there as well, lying on the grass, waiting to be used.

Behind him, there is a magnificent city made of shining gold. The city represents his divine desirs that he wants to make real, and can make real, with practice, concentration and will. A butterfly is over the city... transformation, transmutation, resurrection... The Magician is powerful! And the horse in the back shows his freedom, he is limitless, going to unknown territories. 

Moongold  13 Sep 2003 
Tarot of the Sephiroth is an unusual and little known deck which explains the relationship between the Tarot and Qabalah through contemporary and stylized images and colour. The Qabalah is a system of personal evolution based on engaging the universal forces of creation as expressed in the Tree of Life. The Tarot of the Sephiroth is a well illustrated and constructed deck and worth exploring.

The Magician is the most futuristic Magician I’ve seen. He is on the 12th Path of the Tree of Life between Kether, the Source of all Creation, and Binah, female receptive energy and the origin of form and structure. He looks like a Space Traveller, to be honest. It's a great graphic.

This Magician is indeed entrusted with a lofty role and task. He is the crystallization of the first breath of creation, and he is enclosed in a crystal to represent this. He makes it all happen. The elemental tools relevant to his role surround him – Wands, Swords, Cups and Disks. On the table before him rests a symbol for Mercury, communication. On his head is a hat with the infinity sign, making him the Magician for all creation.

This Magician is no trickster as many of the other Magicians are purported to be. He is a Class A character, holding the keys to magic, language, writing and wisdom. He understands the creative process within the restrictions of the physical plane. With this understanding and through our own attitudes, we can impose our will on the nature of creation. It's how you see everything that's important. 

Mimers  13 Sep 2003 
The Buckland Romani is not a deck I use often, but it does have one of my favorite Magician cards.

In this deck the Magician is a woman. She is beautiful with long black hair. In her hair is a headband that bears the lemniscate showing her power is limitless. She holds in her hands a whip (wands) and a knife (swords). On a tree stump behind her are a wheel (pentacles) and a cup. These are her tools. On her arm is an armband with a pentagram engraving. This to me shows that she is very well grounded and she uses her power to change her world.

She is surrounded by red and white roses and lilies. These represent her passions and her purity. There is a snake wrapped around her arm. The author says in the book this represents wisdom and healing.

Her expression shows calmness and confidence. 

lunalafey  14 Sep 2003 
He's an adorable fey. Playful with his studies. With a glow of intense light, he is 'creating' a mouse. There is another mouse already with him, who watches intently (or sits as a model) . I suspect this is his familiar, & the mouse he conjurs will end up as his familiar's familiar. Who else would do such a odd thing, a trickster. (interesting/unrelated? connection coyote & mouse are sometimes interchanged in Nat. Am. symbology) As true to the Magician traditions, he is equiped with the symbols of the suits, he has a chalice of wine, a potted mini tree for the wands. There is a sword stuck inbetween the pages of one of the many books stacked up, I wonder what it marks, or if just a nutty way of storage for the fey-mage. His Pentacle looks to be a decorative shield. The color red is one of the symbols in this card. The wine, the mouse eyes, the stone set in the sword handle, the center of the shield. There is also a strange bulb floating in the corner the has red 'balls of light' contianed within and a decorative red point that looks pendulum-like. The magicians tunic is red as well (like the robe for other mags) Two other colors predominte, the color opposite of red; green, and 'gold'. All colors to me are colors that are of life and creation. 

Sulis  14 Sep 2003 
From my tarot jounal

The Magician - The Cosmic Tarot

Against the background of a dark, starry sky is a beautiful, almost androgynous face - if it wasn't for the beard this magician could easily be a woman.
On his brow he wears a golden circlet with the symbol of the lemniscate, showing his and the universe's limitless power.
Over his third eye chakra, symbloising intuition and inner knowledge is an upward pointing golden triangle, the lower corners extend to his eyes and out of his eyes flow golden rays of light.
The upward pointing triangle is the symbol of fire, showing the power he has to take action and transform the world around him.
On a table before him, illuminated by the light beams streaming from his eyes are the representation of the elements; the building blocks of the universe and the tarot suits; the cup, the wand, the sword and the pentacle.
In front of the table are roses and lillies, signifying beauty, love, purity and the unconcious.
He has the power and the tools to facilitate change, both outer and inner.

Love and light

crystalmynx xx 

Mimers  16 Oct 2003 
The World Spirit is a very rich deck. It is not a main reading deck for me, but one I have never regretted buying. The deck is a Rider Waite style deck, yet very unique. The cards are multicultural which is one of the things I love most about it. They are created by hand colored linoleum block print. This I think, adds to the richness.

The Magician in this deck appears to be a Shamon or perhaps a Voodoo Priest. He looks South American to me and appears to be in a tropical climate.

In his hut he dances within a circle whilst juggling the symbols of the elements with ease. Candles are lit all around him and offerings from the earth are on the ground before him. This displays an important aspect of the Magician for me. His groundedness (juggling the elements and the offerings) and his spirituality (his dancing).

At the bottom of the card is the lumisque (sp?). Showing that he is aware that his possibilities are boundless. Also in the backround are 2 drums. Drums to me are the rythum the helps us set our spirit free.

The Magician in this deck has discovered his potential here in this world without loosing his connection to his spirituality.

The black backround of this deck is also a feature that I love as it helps the beautiful colors stand out.


mercenary30  19 Oct 2003 
The Tarot of Prague does not number the Major Arcana, thus removing the arguments as to what order they belong.

In a traditional fashion the Magician stands behind a table with his right hand pointing towards the sky with a wand in his hand and the left one pointing to the earth. He holds a plant in his hand to signify the earths bounty and the power contained in nature. He is wrapped in a red cloth. A leafy headdress fans out around his head, a display of his grand position. On the table in front of him are the other three symbols of the tarot, suggesting that he is equally skilled in their use. Behind him is Mercury carrying his staff of circles. He is the connection between the Spirit and physical. The vassal that the Spirit can use to accomplish earthly tasks. A symbol of the potential of all man to accomplish unlimited wonders. The fool, who is now prepared to begin the journey. 

jmd  19 Oct 2003 
There are a number of versions in this style of deck, though they tend to have important similarities, some of which can be seen as attachments in the thread which began what later became the History and Iconography Forum: the Marseille Basteleur.

Generally, the Juggler or 'Magician' will have his left hand raised, holding a type of wand - though see the Noblet attached version for a somewhat more obvious rendition. His raised arm is, however, folded at the elbow, with the elbow either forming a square, or somewhat lower than the horizontal.

Upon his table, on which are depicted the trickster's tools of the trade, are what appears like dice, cups, a knife and its étui, and what appears to be either an open bag, or, in one version, a depiction of what could be a book with bookmark.

Three of the table's four legs are shown, depicted, possibly and certainly interestingly, as three pillars. These reflect three pillars which may be found in certain Masonic Constitutions around a table, the latter upon which may be depicted the work to be undertaken, and eventually completed.

His body is pictorially sliced horizontally in two by the table, his legs forming, again seemingly, two additional pillars, and between which grows the leaf of a plant (errr... from the ground, that is). His legs, (as too those of the table) approximate the Golden angle (which forms, when continued and cyclically completed, a pentagramme).

His right arm is such that his hand, which holds an oblong or circular looking shape, is placed approximately between his navel and crutch. This position, especially as often depicted more to his right, is in front that so-important organ in esoteric literature, the Liver. As such, his right (active) hand is shown connected to the organ of the Will (the other two organs of equivalent importance are the heart and the brain).

Upon his head is a wide-brimmed hat, the brim emulating a lemniscatory shape. His face and eyes often face his active, or right, side (the left of the card).

Overall, the image of the Basteleur recalls the shape of the first Hebrew letter (Alef), and both the card and the letter share both ordinal and cardinal value (first and one).

From the thread already linked can be viewed the 1650s Noblet Bateleur

Moongold  19 Oct 2003 
This is an unusual Magician, dressed in the clothes of a common man. He stands in a matter of fact setting, nest to a plain table on which sit the symbols of the Tarot suites, but in the form of ordinary kitchen and dining implements: cup, coins, stick and carving knife. The Magician's left hand holds a wand and points upwards while the right hand points simply and naturally towards the table.

If you did not know the symbols associated with the tarot you would not notice anything special about this image, it is so simple. Even the traditional infinity sign is the buffer in the legs of the table, barely recognizable.

I love this depiction for its simplicity. It does not have the theatricality of many other Magician images and this makes it more powerful. 

Mimers  25 Nov 2003 
Here is a link to 1 The Apprentice and the entire deck:

In this deck, the first card of the Major Arcana is called Apprentice and is given key words of Initiate, Dare.

The man is holding his wand of inspiration up towards the Heavens and points with his left hand towards the Earth. He gathers knowledge from above to used here on Earth.

Covering his 3rd eye chakra, the chakra of intuition, is covered by a white bandana. White standing for purity. His throat chakra, the chakra of communication and expression is covered as well with a red scarf to me meaning he communicates with passion. The heart chakra is covered with a necklace which to me represents loyalty and love to one's self. The second chakra or the pleasure and artistic chakra is covered by a belt that looks as though it may be the snake biting it's tail belt, but honestly the details are too small for me to be sure. As far as chakras go in this card, what stands out to me the most are the large red boots that he wears. Red is the color of the root chakra and the fact that he wears this color on his feet tells me that he is firmly grounded.

All of the suit symbols are in the card and their positioning is interesting. The Pentacle and the cup sit before him. The wand is in his hand. Wand being the suit of ideas and inspiration and the fact that he holds this lead me to feel this is a dominant trait of the Apprentice. The cup and pentacle before him portray the feelings of emotions and the material world as his primary concerns. The sword is behind him saying that this Apprentice may have a tendancy to act first and think later.

He appears to be in a cave, or a dense part of the forest. You can see the beautiful and spacious lands he has yet to explore waiting for him. Is he ready yet? Will he go out and journey them? you bet. "Ready or not, here I come!" he shouts as he ventures out. Hope he doesn't forget his sword.


Mimers  07 Dec 2003 
Very interesting Magician in this deck.

The Magicians head is predominant in this card and appears in darkness. As a matter of fact, his hair seems to become the stary sky. There is a band around his forehead symbolising enlightenment and the activation of the 3rd eye. This Magician is open to messages from above. Covering his 3rd eye is a disc with the lemniscate meaning that what he receives from above through his third eye he puts into action here on Earth. Wonderfully depicted here, The divine triangle appears with it's tip touching the lemnicate and it's base corners touching his eyes and then beaming out to below, his table of tools. This so well describes how the Magician will put divine guidance into action.

On his table with it's golden table cloth lie his tools for daily life. The cup, the sword, the wand and the pentacle. On the left corner is a red flower for passion with white trim around the petals dipicting a passion that is pure. The fact that there are buds still yet to bloom indicates the Magicians youthfulness. In the right corner of the card are the white lillies standing for purity and higher spirit.


Rusty Neon  07 Dec 2003 
Let's not forget (or let's forget, if you will) the Magician from the RWS-cloned Mythic Tarot deck whose hands are the other way around.

Discussion of this (and the card scan) at: 

Belladonna  07 Dec 2003 
The Magus in this deck is a woman, too (I'm thinking of that Romani deck, Mimers!) The power of the sun seems to fuel her and illuminate her and her robes in brilliant yellow. The elements surround her, depicted as clouds, rain, grass and flowers and fire. On a table in front of her lay the four tools of the magician, though the wand she holds high above her head.

Interestingly, a waning crescent moon floats above her head. Does this represent the fluctuation of power being directed inward, and then outward? Or that the time for inner reflection is coming to an end and the time to act is at hand? Or does it speak of the power of the crone?

What I love about this card, too, are the animals. A raven sits on her shoulder whispering secrets to her. A dove rests on the table offering it's beauty and carrying messages of peace and innocence. A black cat stares out at us- a ravishing familiar and ally.

Overall, this card seems to show us how the magus is powerful because she is a channel for the amazing power surrounding her, celestial and earthly. 

The Comparative Study:1 - The Magician thread was originally posted on 11 Sep 2003 in the Using Tarot Cards board, and is now archived in the Forum Library. Read the threads in Using Tarot Cards, or read more archived threads.

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