Tarot: Symbolism of the Magician

Hermit’s view on Kaillte as the Magician:

Trump 1 in the Revenant Tarot deck.
Trump 1 in the Revenant Tarot deck.

The medicine man, the con man, the salesman. The Magician is all about the creation of ideas, the power of thought, and sleight of hand. It is the use of speech and the mind, to heal, hinder, or manipulate. The Magician can be a trickster or a healer, and Kaillte the Red Mage fits both of these descriptions, though his talents aren’t often shown in the stories. He is a master of the mind, able to bring out the worst or the best in people, as well as enchant and conjure. Being the physically weaker of the two brothers, Kaillte was also always much better at being stealthy than Esper was, making him a better match for this card, ruled by the Roman god of Thieves.

In the Rider-Waite deck, the Magician is more of a performance-magic user, than an actual mage, so it seems. He has one hand raised in the air, and one pointed at the earth, but nothing really seems to be happening. Kaillte, on the other hand, is casting a spell right in front of our eyes, with one hand palm-down, and one palm-up. This represents a connection between the powers of the Above, namely the Divine, the Universe, God, what have you, and the powers of the Below, of the Earth, ancestors, and animals. The Magician is a bridge between these two worlds, like Yggdrasil is a bridge between all worlds, and connects those energies down into the physical realm. This is further emphasized by the Alder tree in the back, a tree that symbolized, to the Druids, just such a bridge. The tree is also in bloom, which means it is Spring, in the card’s setting – the season of new beginnings. The spell that he is casting, of course, is in the shape of an infinity sign, which can be seen above the Rider-Waite Magician’s head, and represents the power of thought.

Kaillte wears on his belts what the Rider-Waite Magician holds on the table before him: four tools to represent the four elements, or the four suits in the Minor arcana. The sword for air, the wand for fire, the cup – or canteen in Kaillte’s case – for water, and the disc – replaced by a bag of herbs – for earth. The two Magicians also wear matching colors, red and white. The white robe represents, in this instance, the purity and clarity of a new idea, before it has been pondered to the point of being fully realized. The red cloak represents life experience, which can both color the perception of a thought and bring it more into alignment with reality. In addition, Kaillte wears black armor, something that the Rider-Waite Magician does not have, which represents the inevitable death of an idea, whether it be shot down early, corrupted by false perceptions, or just finally concluded by action. The white and black together symbolize duality, a separation of the masculine from the feminine, the creative from the logical.

As stated before, though not directly, this card is ruled by the planet Mercury, named for the Roman god of thievery, medicine, and knowledge. Mercury, being the planet closest to the sun, has the fastest orbit, and represents in some ways the fleetingness of brand new ideas. Mercury was also the messenger god, and in this case the Magician brings the message of a new venture, untrained skill, or even a secretly smarmy coworker. Mercury is also the planet that rules over the zodiac Gemini, thus Kaillte being Esper’s twin makes his placement in this card even more appropriate.

The rune on this card is Ansuz, the inner voice. It can be used to bring forward one’s own will into reality, thoughts into words, or can be used for opening things, like leaking pipes and doors that seem just a bit stuck. Ansuz is the war-cry of a Valkyrie, and the whispered incantation of an arcane thief. It does exactly what the Magician is doing, magic magic, opening the way for energy to flow from one medium to another. It is the beginning of a story, just as Kaillte was the beginning of Esper’s troubles, and the Magician is the beginning of the Tarot.

2 thoughts on “Tarot: Symbolism of the Magician

Your Thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s