Friday, June 19, 2015

The Magus

The Magus ("The Magician" in the Rider-Waite deck) is consciousness and action put in the service of manifestation.  It is the vision which drops scales from your eyes, the "Aha!" moment when the solution becomes clear and the impossible becomes child's play.  Where the Fool joins the primal light of Kether to Chokmah's irresistible force, the Magus stands between Kether and the immovable object of Binah.  It rules over the nerves which relay information and the brain which organizes and manipulates that data.  Often dismissed with facile readings as "a spiritual person" or "magic coming into your life," the Magus can be one of the most powerful and important cards in the deck once you move beyond stale cliches.

Like all forms of power, the Magus can work for good or ill. Standing in opposition to the querent, it can signify a hostile plot coming to fruition.  (The Magus always involves planning and thought: indeed, that is his very nature). Standing as a friend or ally, it can point to a current which can be ridden to advantage, a message about to be heard, an ongoing effort which is about to become a Great Work.  But whatever its position, the Magus never manifests without upheaval. When you draw down fire from heaven something is going to burn, and new ideas invariably arise in opposition to old ones.  He brings transformation, and that is rarely comfortable.  Whether he takes you to heaven or hell you can expect a bumpy ride.

The mystic works through contemplation, seeking the Divine through stillness and prayer. The magician walks a path of action, speaking the Word and thereby further the Work of the Divine.  The mystic has visions of the celestial city: the magician wants to build it on earth.  In practice, of course, the line between these two is not so simple. Cloistered holy people have not infrequently changed the course of history, and any effective magical practice must be built on a solid base of meditation and contemplation.  The magician and the mystic go by different paths but they tread up the same mountain: both work in service of something greater than themselves.  This is a card which functions at a level beyond simple dualities and easy answers. Wherever it shows up expect a certain degree of complexity and ambiguity.

When the situation demands the Magus can be a mountebank: there is often a degree of illusion and misdirection to this card.  It can come as something that seems remarkable yet perfectly reasonable, a stroke of good luck that demands an immediate response.  Before leaping, it is wise to look at the situation and at the surrounding cards. Whose cause does the Magus serve, whose goal, whose ends? Consider the costs and the consequences because magic always has both.  Once you take the Oath there is no going back: you either cross the Abyss or fall headlong into it.  Are you ready for the test or do you need further preparation? Do you have what you need and have you gotten rid of the things you don't? Many expect the Magus to bring them the Answer, only to find he has come with more questions.

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