The Magician is possibly the Major Arcana card most steeped in symbolism. He’s an overwhelmingly positive omen when upright, and an omen of woe when reversed.
Either a master of manifestation, or a symbol of neglected opportunities, The Magician is always a symbol of potent energy.
About the Magician
- Keywords: Willpower, manifestation, resourcefulness, skills
- Keywords (Reversed): Wasted potential, untapped skills, deceit, lack of focus or clarity
- Yes or No: Yes
- Yes or No (Reversed): No
- Element: Air
- Zodiac Sign: Gemini, Virgo
In the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot, The Magician is depicted as a young man garbed in red and white. His clothing symbolizes both purity and worldly knowledge. He also points one hand toward the sun (“As above”) and another toward the ground (“so below”).
To emphasize this, he holds a double-ended want in his right (projective) hand. An ouroboros encircles his waist, and an infinity symbol hovers over his brow — both symbols of his limitless potential.
The table in front of him is set with the symbols of the tarot — a pentacle, cup, sword, and wand. In other words, he has all of the tools he needs to manifest anything he desires. He’s also surrounded by lush greenery, a physical manifestation of his potential for growth and fruitfulness.
The Magician symbolizes someone who’s clever and resourceful. They seize on any opportunity presented to them, and, if there aren’t any, they’ll make their own. He’s the embodiment of the notion of making your own luck, and a reminder that you have all you need to do so — if you choose to.
The Magician Meaning (Upright)
Upright, The Magician is here to tell you that you have everything you need. He’s depicted as having an array of tools at his disposal, but the secret of magic is that they aren’t really necessary — any magician worth their salt knows how to use power with nothing more than their bare hands.
This card typically shows up when you’ve begun a new project or entered a new phase of life. The Magician is number one in the Major Arcana, and that’s for good reason. He is a reminder that you have what you need to carry out your desires, you just need to have the courage to do it.
The Magician Meaning (Reversed)
The Magician is a very balanced figure. He points both to the sky and the soil, his wand is double-ended, the ouroboros bites its own tail, and the infinity symbol is a perfect reflection of itself. That said, he does take on a different meaning when reversed.
If The Magician upright is resourcefulness, The Magician reversed is resourcefulness wasted. He is squandered opportunities, luck not made, chances not seized, and unfulfilled potential.
He can indicate when you’re not making progress toward your desires, and call you out when you’re using your gifts in a not-necessarily-ethical way. If you’re pushing toward a goal and using shady means to do so, expect The Magician to point it out.
When you see The Magician reversed, ask yourself what you’re missing. You have all of the gifts you need to achieve your goals, so what’s being neglected?
See also: Check out alternate Tarot decks here.
The Magician Meaning – Love & Relationships (Upright)
In a love reading, The Magician retains all of his basic meaning — just applied to romance. If you’re looking for a relationship, he’s a sign that it’s time to seize the opportunity to meet people.
You’re at the stage where you’re ready to connect with someone, you just need to take the steps to do so. If you let this chance pass you by, you may regret it.
If you’re already in a relationship, The Magician can symbolize bringing the “magic” back into your love life. Now is the time to experiment. Do you or your partners have any desires you’d like to manifest? The time is right to try them out.
The Magician Meaning – Love & Relationships (Reversed)
The Magician is a clever, resourceful character, but let’s not forget magicians’ talent for sleight-of-hand. When this card appears reversed in a love reading, it’s generally a sign that someone’s pulling the wool over your eyes.
Someone — whether a new partner, or a long-term love — has you watching him or her pull rabbits out of a hat with one hand, too distracted to see what they’re doing with the other one.
On a more positive note, The Magician can point to you, yourself. If you’re putting up an illusion as a defense mechanism, or being deliberately deceptive with a partner, this card will show up to point it out.
The Magician Meaning – Careers, Business & Money (Upright)
One of The Magician’s tools is the pentacle, symbol of the element of Earth and the energy of prosperity. That indicates that he’s a very positive omen when it comes to manifesting wealth and success. He often appears when you are — or soon will be — beginning a new venture.
The thing is, manifestation is more than simply wishing and waiting for the universe to fill your hands. The Magician indicates that you have all of the knowledge and tools you require to succeed — the decision to use them is in your hands.
He’s also a card of tremendous will. You want success, and you have the means to seize it for yourself. Will you do it, or will you allow this opportunity pass you by? Your future is in your hands.
If you’re starting a business with someone else, then The Magician may appear as a warning. As in a love reading, he may show up in his illusionist aspect. That means that it’s time to ask yourself how well you really know this potential business partner, and whether they’re being fully honest with you.
The Magician Meaning – Careers, Business & Money (Reversed)
When The Magician is reversed in a career, business, or money reading, he indicates unfulfilled potential. He still has all of the tools, knowledge, and will to succeed, but something is blocking the manifestation.
He can symbolize feelings of impostor syndrome or insecurity that keep you from fully using your skills, or even feelings of frustration or a loss of enthusiasm.
Sometimes, he may show that you have most of the skills you need, but are lacking one crucial aspect — like a skilled artisan who can’t also be a social media and marketing expert. In either case, the message is the same: Something is missing here.
The Magician: Yes or No?
The Magician is one of the clearest cards you can possibly get in a “Yes or No” reading. He represents power and manifestation — he literally has all of the tools and knowledge he needs to create the reality he wants.
When he appears to answer your query, the answer is “Yes!”
On the other hand, The Magician reversed becomes his opposite. He may appear to chide you and tell that you have the ability to get the outcome that you want, but simply aren’t doing the things you need to do. The answer is “No.”
The Magician is cunning and powerful. When he’s upright and on your side, he can be an omen of success. On the other side, he may signify self-sabotage, or even someone who isn’t fully honest.
No matter how he appears, when The Magician arrives in a reading, things are always exciting.
See also: For more Tarot Card meanings, check out our full list of Tarot Cards and their meanings.
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