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How to Interpret the Magician Card in Tarot

Andrea has a background in Myers-Briggs and Western astrology. She mostly writes about relationships.

The Magician is the card of initiation. This is the person who inspires the Fool to go on a quest. The Magician is seen as a teacher, a mentor, a coach, or an ally.

The Magician is the card of initiation. This is the person who inspires the Fool to go on a quest. The Magician is seen as a teacher, a mentor, a coach, or an ally.

The Magician's Role: Mentoring the Fool

The Magician is the initiator and understands the cosmos, other realms, and future places. This person has mastered intuition and knows how to communicate the Divine to mortals. It's because of people like this that Fools awaken. It's the Magician's job to teach, to excite people's curiosities, and to direct people's paths.

The Magician sees the Fool as his apprentice and works to inspire the Fool to set out on a quest. The Magician educates the Fool on the rules of the world, teaches them tricks to get ahead, and serves as a powerful ally.

This article covers:

  1. Basic information about the Magician card.
  2. The symbolism of the Magician card.
  3. Interpretations of the Magician card when it is upright.
  4. Interpretations of the Magician card when it is reversed.

The Basics of the Magician Card

The Magician is numbered one in the Major Arcana. The number stands for new beginnings, for identity, for simplicity, necessity, independence, and solitude. All air cards relate to the swords, which is one of the four suits in Tarot.

Swords relate to making decisions (e.g., knowing when to attack and when to defend) and actions that lead to consequences. It takes courage to pick up the sword; it takes even more courage to put the sword down.

The Magician relates to the planet Mercury, which rules Gemini and Virgo. Mercury is the planet of communication, travel, knowledge, and speed. When Mercury goes retrograde it usually results in fractured conversations, delayed travel, and general frustration.

The Magician is charged with the air element. This person must be full of knowledge, have a mastery of skills, and have charms that bring people to him. The Magician isn't someone to fear and is essential for growth. A proper Magician will love to mentor people. In real life, they could look like a teacher, a pastor, a priest, a manager, or a wise friend. Mentors are often found in stories that have young heroes. Dumbledore was Harry Potter's mentor. Doc was Marty McFly's mentor. Gandalf was Frodo and Bilbo's mentor.

Possible Interpretations

UprightReversed

Unlocked potential

Manipulation

Manifestation/Inspiration

Dictatorship

Communication

Micromanagement

Curiosity

Toxic culture

Resourcefulness

Poor planning

Creativity

Not following directions

Connection to the Divine

Terrible execution of ideas

New beginnings

Train wreck

Mastery of skills

Odd use of ingredients/tools

The Magician looks to fire, earth, air, and water for inspiration. The Magician taps into the Universe's knowledge to manifest things into physical reality.

The Magician looks to fire, earth, air, and water for inspiration. The Magician taps into the Universe's knowledge to manifest things into physical reality.

Card Description and Symbolism

Messenger Between Mortal and Immortal Worlds

The Magician stands with one arm stretched toward the Heavens, and the other hand pointing toward the Earth. This imagery represents the Magician's ability to communicate messages between the Divine and the mortals. His role is similar to the messenger god of Mercury in Greek mythology. Mercury would bring messages from Mount Olympus to the mortals and would also guide souls to the underworld so they could finally rest.

The Magician in Tarot acts as a navigator, a communicator of ideas, and someone who initiates journeys. This is someone who often has an idiosyncratic personality, who is both an observer and a player, and has a never-ending bag of charms. Mercury in Greek mythology was a jack of trades. He lived on the cusp of where mortals and immortals lived.

Symbols of Manifestation

In Tarot, the Magician uses his relationship between the mortals and the immortals to manifest dreams. He is comfortable looking at both the conscious and the subconscious and works with the Fool to help him recognize his potential.

The Magician works hard to convert energy, thoughts, and magic into concrete matter. He is the force that causes things to materialize. He acts as a mini god. Not because he is actually a god, but because he tries to mimic the nature of a god. (Remember, the planet Mercury rules Gemini and Gemini is seen as the great mimic of the Zodiac. It is also considered one of the smartest and strangest signs. The Magician in many ways relates to Gemini, so if you get the Magician in a reading, it could represent a Gemini in your life.)

On the table in front of the Magician are four objects. These items relate to the Tarot suits: a cup, a pentacle, a sword, and a wand. Each one of these objects also relates to the four elements:

  • The cup = water
  • The pentacle = earth
  • The sword = air
  • The wand = fire

This represents how the Magician has all the tools necessary to create change. He has everything he needs right before him on the table.

Symbols of Infinite Potential

Above his head is the infinity sign, which signifies his ability to tap into the knowledge of the Universe. Everything in the Universe is energy. The objects before him are fragments of infinity and they reflect higher powers. His belt is a snake eating its own tail, which also relates to infinity and unlimited potential.

There are also flowers in bloom, which relates to the formation of ideas, wild colors, and potential. The flowers will be in either the foreground or background, depending on the deck of cards being used.

The Magician card looks different in different decks. The card will generally have someone pointing, objects representing the elements, and contrasting colors.

The Magician card looks different in different decks. The card will generally have someone pointing, objects representing the elements, and contrasting colors.

The Symbols of the Magician Card

SymbolsCard Meanings

Magician holds an arrow that points in two different directions: one point toward Heaven, one point toward Earth.

The Magician is a mediator between Heaven and Earth. This is a person who can communicate abstract ideas into common language. This is someone who can speak on behalf of mortals and immortals.

Infinity sign above the head.

Eternal knowledge, exponential possibilities, endless potential. The infinity sign deals with knowledge, energy, and growth.

Snake belt around waist.

Consuming knowledge is a never ending process.

Cloak in red.

Power of fire and spirit.

White robe.

Innocence, purity, clean slate, trust, and grace.

Cup.

Relates to water and emotions.

Sword.

Relates to air and thoughts.

Pentacle.

Relates to earth and physical manifestations. Pentacles also relate to wealth.

Wand.

Relates to fire and free-will.

Table with objects.

Everything necessary to create momentum and balance.

The Magician can look like a mad scientist. The Magician is always on the brink of discovery.

The Magician can look like a mad scientist. The Magician is always on the brink of discovery.

Interpretations of the Magician in Upright Position

As a mentor, the Magician has all the resources and tools necessary to inspire, create, and bring positivity into the world. It's a good sign to see this card in the upright position—it means a shock of energy is happening or is on the way. There will be a time of exponential growth, change, and epiphanies. The Magician isn't a person who blends in with the scenery or who walks around with a bland palette of gray and beige. The Magician enters the room with a blast of rainbows, spells, and delights to shake things up tremendously—they arrive to challenge the status quo. The Magician is on a quest to bring everything into a higher plane of consciousness.

An Opportunity to Awaken to Your Aliveness and Sense of Purpose

The Magician activates all four elements. He reaches toward the wand to spark a flame in your soul. He holds the pentacle to make you aware of your body and the physical realm. He reaches toward the sword to give you a blast of metal energy— a whirlwind of air in the head. And he pours the cup of water to enliven your emotions. Ultimately, the Magician sparks a path to make you feel alive.

For the Fool (the protagonist of Tarot), when the four elements come together, your life becomes more balanced, you feel better, and you even feel powerful. All four elements are needed for enlightenment and to push you onto a quest. When all four elements work together, it has greater impact than when the four elements are split into their parts. The Magician is aware of this as he is well versed in alchemy.

The Magician charges the Fool to go. He helps take the seed of potential and gets it to bloom. With more skills, knowledge, and experiences, the seed then unfolds. Essentially, the Magician wants your ideas to become reality and he readies you for action.

An Opportunity to Set Goals With Clarity

The Magician also works with people to create clear visions. He doesn't motivate by money—he motivates with the soul. He reminds you that you are creative and that you have a veracity to your ways.

This is the kind of person who shows you what you really want. With the Magician's guidance, the Fool has better focus and diligence. The Magician teaches you to consider what you might have overlooked.

Commitment is essential to getting forward momentum. You have to be dedicated if you really want something to come true.

Here are some keys to acting on the Magician's energy in your life:

  • Be methodical.
  • Make plans.
  • Make goals.
  • Know your heart.
  • Develop confidence.
  • Be consistent—long-term consistency creates legacy.
The Magician isn't a card to fear. The Magician is generally an ally of the Fool.

The Magician isn't a card to fear. The Magician is generally an ally of the Fool.

Interpretations of the Magician in Reversed Position

If the Magician comes out of the deck reversed, it means that you have goals but are not taking the correct actions to realize those goals.

A reversed Magician could mean:

  • You have uncertainties that are blocking you from taking proper action.
  • You are in an environment that is toxic and is holding you back.
  • You have a poor mentor, teacher, or manager.
  • Your mentor may be bad at properly giving you instruction.

Are you feeling held back?

A great Magician knows how to work with you beyond any shortcomings you may have. A weak Magician will micromanage you, criticize you, and not give you the necessary tools and wisdom to grow—you will be like a seed that doesn't sprout.

Eventually, this feeling of being held back will come to a head. It will be like continually adding rubber bands to a milk bottle—eventually the pressure builds up, the milk leaks, and everything explodes.

If you want to see any realistic progress, you'll have to change the way you're handling your goals. Stay alert. Listen to your intuition. Don't ignore it. If you have anxieties, consider them. What scares you? Why are you anxious? What do you need to do to get healthier energy around you?

Keep listening to your gut and consider different opportunities. The Universe is working hard to bring you what you need, so hope that the message doesn't get lost along the way. Maybe Mercury is in retrograde, and you're dealing with a blast of miscommunication.

Do you feel like you're going the wrong way in life?

The reversed Magician can also be a sign that you have been working on something for a long time without any progress. One way or another, your efforts are misguided. If this is the case, perhaps you should seek advancement, change, and progress.

You might have lost touch with what you actually want in life. Now is the time to consider a new route to get back to your real goals.

If you keep trying the same thing over and over again without any change, then you need to take that as a sign that something is wrong with your approach.

Do you need to reevaluate what is motivating you?

The reversed Magician could also signal that you have the wrong motives. Perhaps you are using greed, manipulation, or some kind of evil to get what you want. You may have unintentionally fallen into a trap or scheme. If this is the case, you need to ask yourself if your actions are for the greater good or if you're creating more problems for yourself and the world.

The reversed Magician can also mean you haven't reached your full potential yet. You haven't allowed yourself to explore and nurture the skill that is closet to your heart. What is impeding your growth? What is keeping you from your real talents?

Whatever the answer, it will entail change. You may need to change jobs, move to a different place, or breakup with someone.

Here are some ways of responding to a reversed Magician in your reading:

  • Pause and reevaluate.
  • Distance yourself from toxic energy.
  • Reconsider what motivates you.
  • Ask yourself if you're headed toward what you really want.
  • Leave places that make you feel bad or drained.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2021 Andrea Lawrence

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