Key 0 the Fool is everywhere throughout the deck! Therefore, Key 1 the Magician is considered the actual beginning of the Tarot deck. The background is yellow, the same as the Fool card, again signifying mental equilibrium and intellect at the superconscious plane of mental activity. It also represents the element air and Mercury, the ruling planet of this card. So as you can see, we’re still operating at a high level of consciousness. But then we’re just beginning our journey into manifestation.
The primary functions of this Key are attention, beginning and concentration. These are represented by his stance and his attention to the magical tools on the table.
How has he prepared himself? His undergarment is white, signifying purity of spirit needed for this work. His headband is also white, holding back the dark locks of ignorance and inertia. The wings on the band refer to the rhythmic motion of Air and of Mercury, the winged messenger of thought.
The identity of this card is intellect and self-consciousness. His main magic consists of what he can do just by wanting to do it. His red robe represents his desire nature and indicates action, courage, strength and physical energy. The identity of the Magician is the self-conscious mind – you are the doer. When he is doing Magic he must put on his red robe. This activates the implements on his table. We are the mediator between our inner and outer aspects of Life and this is exercised primarily through our desire nature.
The figure eight over his head symbolizes infinity in the rhythm of involution and evolution. The serpent swallowing its tail wrapped around his waist is a symbol of Eternity and regenerative force. So based on this he accepts Eternity as the framework within which he acts.
His right hand, the hand of power, lifts up a hollow wand with a bud at the top. This means that you recognize that all the power you use comes from our Creator. In our study, this means you need to place your attention on the Source of Life, which is found within you. The wand is a sexual symbol. The Magician has sublimated his reproductive forces. This allows his will to be used as a hollow channel for the Will of God. He directs his attention with his left hand pointing toward his work table.
The Magician’s pointing finger is a direct reference to the balancing “tongue” in paragraph 1 of Chapter 3 in the ancient text called The Book of Creation. This paragraph is as follows: “Three Mother Letters: Aleph, Mem, Shin. Their foundation is: the scale of Merit (good) and the scale of Guilt (evil), and the tongue is an equilibrating law between the two.” So what does that mean and why is it so important? First, we need to know that the three Mother letters are the most powerful letters in the Hebrew alphabet. They represent the three elements Air, Fire and Water. Second, the scale mentioned is like the balancing scale in the hands of Justice on Key 11. She is balancing good on one side of the scale and evil on the other.
The letter Aleph represents the element Air and is a symbol for Man’s Will Power. The letter Mem stands for the element Water. The letter Shin stands for the element Fire. So here is what The Book of Creation is saying in paragraph 1: if Mankind does not use his will power, symbolized by air, the surrounding conditions, symbolized by water and fire, will toss him about as they wish. Man has to learn how to use his will power to master his surrounding conditions. The balancing scale is only mastered by the finger which willfully directs the pointer. The 4 tools the Magician is pointing at on his table are Fire, Air, Earth and Water. He has not yet picked them up and used them. So we have our work cut out for us, but the Path, our Hero’s Journey, has been identified.
We find the Magician in the middle of a green garden of red roses and white lilies. They represent the subconscious mind, the second character in our story. He cultivates this garden by focusing his attention on it. Its flowers are the red roses of human love and desire for action. The lilies represent pure thought and divine love. The green stems and leaves indicate growth, symbolizing the harmony of nature and Venus, a symbol for love.
And what are the tools of his craft that the Magician will be using? They are spread out on his table, which is likened to the drawing board of an engineer or artist, where designs or blueprints are made. They represent the four elements or Principles in nature – Fire, Air, Earth and Water. In the full deck of Tarot cards they are the four suits of playing cards. Fire is the white wand signifying Will. Water is the silver chalice of imagination and knowing. Air is the steel sword of daring and formation. Earth is the silent coin of dense materialization. Note that on the coin is the five-pointed star, the pentagram, which is an icon of the human microcosm – the four elements with the upper point being the quintessence, or Spirit of Man. It symbolizes man’s dominion over all the powers of nature. Coins represent success in the world, the pentagram on top of this coin represents spiritual success.
Paul Foster Case tells us, “There is a natural order to their use that the Magician must learn. Energy moves in a path through these worlds. The wand is the archetypal world of ideas. The cup is the creative world of forms. The sword is the formative world of mechanics. And the coin is the world of result.” There are four occult instructions we need to learn through experience: to will , to know , to dare and to be silent. They correspond to the 4 elements. We need fire and water, but most of all we need action. And once you set about what you’re going to accomplish, it’s best to keep it to yourself and be quiet!
The Magician’s white garment is his pure nature. The snake is a limit between that and the red robe full of desire. We create through desire. Never forget that! Within the boundary of the snake, this is the real condition of Man! The snake swallowing its own tail means it’s Self-fed. When you want more you must put on your red robe!
The letter B for Beth means house. Its numerical value is two as it’s the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet. It is also the first point of division from one into two, or duality. In the card Beth means the dwelling place for the Self, the Temple of the Living God. The figure of the Magician represents your house of personality through which the Spirit of your own true Self expresses Itself. Through the study of the Tarot we are learning to transmute our personality, one day at a time.
Psalm 127: “Except the Lord build the House, they labor in vain who build it.”