#1: The Magician I Upright.
The Magician I.
Attributions and references of illustrations:
1. The Magician I. Attribution to Pamela Colman Smith following instructions from A. E. Waite. First Published in 1909. William Rider and Son, London.
2. The Magician I. B.P. Grimaud, 1969.Tarot of Marseilles, France.
The Magician I Upright.
The Magician I, attributed to Pamela Colman Smith following instructions from A. E. Waite and was first Published in 1909. Her sponsored work has had a revolutionary impact on tarot reading and has become the most popular of 'teaching and learning' tarot resources.
Upright, The Magician I presents a dramatic image of a confident young man in striking robes set against a background of bold yellow. I have always found this picture deceptively simple. The young man’s gentle awareness belies the enormous potential he seems to have at his command. The lemniscate above his head and the ouroboros around his waist show he is empowered by the perpetual, indestructible nature of energy and the force of the divine as he sets his intention. With arms outstretched he connects energetic and the physical realms.
The grace, modesty and simplicity of the young fellow’s clothing reminds us of a medieval friar’s habit and cloak. His honest intentions are indicated by the white robe; while his red cloak signifies great passion for the task at hand. The themes of purity and zeal are accentuated by the overhanging bow of red roses and the profusion of roses and white lilies (purity) that rise from the ground and cover his legs and feet. The green foliage suggests spring and new life and the 4th Chakra; bringing the influences of healing and emotional intelligence.
The young man stands poised and at the ready; he is on the threshold of an exciting new project, adventure or chapter in his life. He is well prepared and has laid the four key symbols of the Major and Minor Arcana neatly and precisely upon the solid, carved table in front of him. The single sword, wand, cup and pentacle represent the energy of the Aces which suggest the four doors to opportunity and possibility. The Magician 1 is himself part of a powerful synchronicity.
The solid background of golden yellow is the colour of the 3rd Chakra and symbolises self-confidence, optimism, creativity and visceral intelligence. Yellow is the colour of mental challenge of wisdom, logic and clarity of thought when we need to make decisions.
The image of The Magician I in 1969 French B.P. Grimaud’s Tarot of Marseilles offers many similarities and some striking differences to the Pamela Colman designs in the popular Rider Tarot. The Magician I has the look of a circus performer, giving the picture a poetic look even while maintaining an overall sense of balance, order, mastery and anticipation. This fellow is more worldly looking than that of the Rider; he sports an enormous hat in the shape of a lemniscate which might be considered a BIG statement regarding his degree of connection to, and protection by, divine forces. The Magician I raises his wand indicating the source of his inspiration is from the cosmos and his thoughts and actions are immediately connected to spirit.
The Magician I holds a wand diagonally and high in his left-hand; and in his lowered right-hand he appears to be gently handling a coin. The lower-end of the raised wand is pointing directly at the coin; demonstrating the proper relationship of divine will to matter or manifestation. Thought before action. And, he is seemingly, familiarising himself with ‘the feel’ of the coin. Maybe he is thinking, “What does the manifestation of my intention feel and look like?”
The Magician I appears to have unpacked the contents of his satchel on the table, as the four elements of the Arcana are neatly laid-out on the table in front of him representing the order and control he has over his thoughts, intentions, emotions and actions; indicating also, that he has ‘nothing to hide’.
The Magician of Marseilles appears as a ‘larger-than-life’ character who stands confidently and at the ready with arms outstretched and with feet apart; his whole body is one, rhythmical form giving us a sense of movement and ‘something in the making’. His feet point in opposite directions one shoed in the colour of passion and one in the colour of commitment and integrity; suggesting a choice needs to be made. The deep red, royal blue and gold are traditional Marseilles colours indicating the importance of passion and physical strength, integrity and honesty, abundance and success. Red, the colour of the 1st Chakra, represents purpose and destiny. His vibrant patchwork outfit describes his mercurial nature. The inlay of his broad hat is green and signifies the 4th Chakra; his emotional intelligence forms an integral part of the lemniscate as a symbol of the eternal nature of energy. The ground, scattered with symbols of new growth is ‘solid gold’; implying successful beginnings.
While we have the impression that The Magician is ‘ready and set’ to perform he also gives us a sense of pause. He looks over his right shoulder, as if momentarily distracted by something that lies beyond the card’s image. When we layout cards in a reading, what is placed to the left of a ‘significator’ usually suggests influences passing from the present situation or are in the past. Who or what is The Magician I observing in his past. We might wonder for example perhaps, if it is The Fool 0; encouraging the querent to stop and wonder about joyful opportunities (or foolish risks if upside-down) s/he must consider before commencing his new adventure?
Next fortnight: Part Two of Two: The Magician I Upturned.
Martha Adams. © All Rights Reserved.
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