I pulled the Magician again.
I winced and walked away. In fact, I can hardly remember a time when I didn’t receive this card and not immediately wince. The wince is near automatic and is usually followed by a gigantic sigh because I always seem to receive this card when I feel like a broken and tumbled Fool. Pained, tired, and looking for a balm – definitely not looking to do anything more than just sit, or better yet, lay down in place for a while.
Pained, tired, and looking for a balm is a great description of where I’ve energetically been for most of this new year so far. So of course, the Magician has been a haunting presence.
Not just the card; it feels like all the things I’ve had to get done as a matter of living – the balancing act of a taxing day-to-day, grieving, the drawing up and enforcing of protective and nourishing boundaries, the healing work I love to do for and with others, breathing, the emotional labor of being Black and queer and femme in this world – are all some aspect of the Magician, boring their eyes into me and finding… Well I’m not sure what they found but it doesn’t always feel like enough.
I’ve always been interested in why the Fool meets the Magician first.
Why is it that after (jumping? falling? stumbling? tripping?) taking the big leap, does the hapless Fool meet this tricky magical figure first- and not, for example, the High Priestess who sits at the gateway to our deeper spiritual selves? Why does the Fool first face this very much ‘in the world but not of this world’ worker of wonders standing at their table, implements of power before them?
I admit that it may just be my own specific anxieties about being on the Fool’s Journey coming up. But if it isn’t just me, if these questions feel familiar when you pull the Magician (particularly when you don’t feel like this card), let’s take a breath, take a step forward, approach the Magician’s table together, and look closer.
Traditional Rider-Waite-Smith tarot decks usually portray a figure in ceremonial robes, one hand to the sky, the other to the ground channeling divine power through them and back to the earth. We meet the Magician right after The Fool – when we’ve just taken a drastic fall, and maybe we’re a bit broken and in pain and exhilarated and in shock.
Suddenly we are face to face with this figure that seems to be harnessing pure lightning and willpower. They are as intimidating as they are intriguing. Their fingers spark with raw energy and glowing eyes bore into your soul, measuring and finding you wanting. It’s hard to hold their direct gaze, so we look down at their table where each suit of the tarot is represented by their symbols: a cup, staff, sword, and coin.
That doesn’t seem like enough to do much with, at least not at first. At least until I remember that in my practice, I meet tarot as a mirror, not as a judge or oracle, and each card is a facet of myself. So that when I draw the Magician, even when I’m tired and in pain, I am still looking at a reflection of myself.
You are the Magician even when you are pained and tired. Your capacity for magic has not diminished or changed. You are every part of yourself even when you don’t feel much like it.
When the Magician appears while we are experiencing these spaces of shame, burnout and hurt, we are invited to remember this truth and use it to bring ourselves back to balance. The work of manifesting healing is sacred, intentional and powerful, directly in line with the Magician’s energy. Like them, we work from within to bring out the best of ourselves.
A reminder that you are both the Magician and the site of ritual.
It’s always harder to sit and practice ritual when I feel this way, and so this card’s energy feels even further. However, I’ve found that one of the most constant lessons of sitting with magic and the divine is that the ritual implements we need are always available. And so even when I’m not able to reach for a candle, or a bowl of water, or my favorite crystal or incense, I have my most needed ritual implement with me. I have myself.
The Magician doesn’t work with what is completed, they begin with the seeds and create wonders from there. With the surety of connection to the Divine Flow they alchemize the potential in the cup, staff, sword, and coin to bring into being what is needed and desired. They remind us that we don’t have to hold it all complete; that to be pained, tired, and still collecting pieces of ourselves is as good a start as any.
Within us are the cup, staff, sword, and coin.
A simple practice of grounding ourselves in our own magic is to be still in our physical bodies for a time. Take five minutes to stand or lay still. Feel all the elements inside you, already there, always blessing you as a vessel for the divine. The blood in your veins, breath in your lungs, the structure of your bones, the fire in your gut powering the rest of you. We are water, fire, air, and earth.
If being in your physical body is difficult or triggering, feel your spirit. Feel all the elements that move your spirit. We feel, act, think, and create. These too are manifestations of the cup, staff, sword, and coin. From within us, our magic is created without.
When I reflect on those who’ve embodied The Magician around me, I find myself always coming back to the Black women in my life. The Conjurers. Creators of magic from the little that is around them, often doing so with less than what others have. Healers of my body and soul. Ancestors working blood, sweat, and tears into the Earth for survival and freedom, at times offering themselves bodily to the waters to find it. My mother blowing cool breath on my skinned knees and my wonder at how quickly the pain seemed to reduce after. Spiritual elders adding their spit, their very ase (sacred life force), into crushed coconut and herbs for cleansing and protection before anointing me with it.
It is these lessons of the ancestors, elders, and Oshun that bring me back to the Magician within me. We may not always have much, but what we have around us is enough to create what more we need. We just have to connect.
So step to the Magician’s table and find yourself behind it, all your ritual implements already before you.
You are the Magician and contain within you all the elements you need to create your magic.
Decks featured: (1) Prismatic Tarot, Next World Tarot, Thea’s Tarot, Tarot of Trees; (2) Kitty Kahane Tarot, Herbal Tarot; (3) Slow Holler, Sasuraibito Tarot, Stretch Tarot, Divina Tarot; (4) and Dust II Onyx.