Michael Tsarion

THE MAGICIAN
Within the One, the Many


If thou canst, my son, for a while but cease from all thy thinking and willing, then shall thou hear the unspeakable words of God - Jacob Boehme

The Major Arcana of the Tarot emphasizes, by its numerology, that there are 22 stages in the journey to unity and realization. The second card is called the Magician (and occasionally the Magus or Juggler). Its esoteric letter is Beth which means the "House of God." This is a reference to the Pyramid at Gizeh, that great marvel of mathematical and geomantic calibration, and a monument to the sublime in humankind. However, on a more esoteric level, it connotes the human body - the real shrine of god, and true “Holy of Holies.”

The Magician shown, equates with the Biblical "Magi." He is a priest-initiator of the Stellar Cult, follower of the Star in the East. The serpent around his waist is the most ancient symbol of the Siderealists of Egypt and the world. These are the adepts who gave us astronomy and astrology, geometry, the healing and divination arts, and the sundry legends and myths which have come down to us in so many diverse forms. Every country of the ancient world had its Stellar Cult.

I am a Druid, I am an architect, I am a prophet, I am an Adder - (Druidical adage)

...be ye therefore wise as serpents - Mat 10:16

The lemniscate above his head represents the zodiac, but also creation and dissolution. It is the wave and the pulse of perceived energy, the strange ambiguous properties of matter which, like in a conjuring trick, vary depending on the perspective of the eye which beholds. The lemniscate also appears on card number 8, the allusion being to the sacred octave or Ogdoad. Eight is the number of the “Chemycal Wedding.” Eighteen (18) is a cryptic analogue of the Caduceus of Hermes which depicts a rod and two intertwined serpents.

The Magician’s strange table usually features a square top, but only three legs. This is a cryptic reference to the pyramid at Gizeh, which has a base of four and sides of three. This is a clear indication that the Tarot is Egyptian in origin. Upon the table are the four suits of the Tarot - the Wand, the Cup, the Sword and the Disk. These stand for the four elements (the Magus himself being the fifth element or quintessence). They also stand for the four Psychological Types (Intellect, Emotion, Sensation and Intuition), and even for the four Hermetic Divination Arts themselves - Tarot, Astrology, Kabala and Numerology, which must be united before true understanding of even one of them can be truly gained. This unification is the raison de etre of the real mystery schools, for it has been written that only when 2 plus 2 equal 1, can the true Christ be born within.

Taken together with the Fool, the Magician card also denotes the descent of soul into matter, and the apprehension of ourselves as divided as opposed to complete, as subject rather than object, as ego as opposed to self. In psychological parlance the Magician is ego consciousness, the discursive intellect, the onset of the “I versus It” dichotomy that forces spirit to experience the contingencies of temporal existence. This card perfectly expresses Blake’s Fearful Symmetry, for the figure is one aspect of his tyrant Urizen (the “Ancient of Days”) who must fashion a dubious and dissonant harmony between the antinomies that exist for the sundered consciousness of corporeal Man.

The Fool (the previous card) is wise because he knows that he knows nothing. At the beginning of his journey, when he himself is divided, the Magus thinks he knows all, or can know all, and is, therefore, in greater folly. He adores the complex and not the simple, the form and not the essence. He seeks the periphery to know the center, instructs while unlearned, and values what he knows rather than what is. He grasps facts not truth, thinks rather than feels love, and questions others to know himself. The Fool experiences, the Magician experiments. The Fool knows, the Magician interprets. The Fool sees the whole in every part, the Magician only parts of the whole. The Fool communicates with the eyes, the Magician with the tongue.

If this hierogramatic figure is superimposed on a Kabalistic Tree of Life his arms reach both to Netzach and Binah (Venus and Saturn), connecting the realms of imagination and practicality, life and death. Furthermore, these two Sephiroth, to which his arms are extended, are numbered 7 and 3. Seven times three equals 21, the number of the cards in the Major Arcana minus the Fool. The Magician is, therefore, the embodiment of the entire Tarot. All its archetypes will be synthesized in him. Seven plus three is ten, which is, again, the number of completion and androgyny. The symbol for this number ten is a phallic rod and a circle (10). In most decks, the Magician can be seen holding a wand, usually in his right, or masculine, hand. In certain decks the circle, or ring, is also seen held being held by the figure. It is the sign of the female ovum. The figure’s arms are posed in a manner reminiscent of the androgynous icon Baphomet, and the posture appears again in the fifteenth Tarot Arcana (The Devil). The upper arm connotes the Alchemical Sublimatio (to exalt above), while the lower arm connotes Coagulatio (enter into earth). These are the two inclinations of humans by which they escape reality. There is the accentuated flight into Apollonian idealism or the intractable pragmatism of the materialist. As his journey proceeds, the Magician divests himself of such allegiances, becoming neither a spiritualist or materialist. As his symbolic eye opens, he realizes that antipodes are not as removed or separate as they appear to the "hylic" intelligence. For him, relationality is an all pervasive fundamental. He knows this even in the midst of his aloneness. His is the mind that has framed the "fearful symmetry." His coveted, but solitary, position is the domain between the heavens and hells, between the micro and macrocosm, the noumenal and phenomenal. He is Mercury, or Hermes, who alone can be a part of, yet apart, from the "Matrix," the All.

If you are alone you belong to yourself…If you are accompanied by even one companion you belong only half to yourself, or even less, in proportion to the thoughtlessness of his conduct; and if you have more than one companion you will fall more deeply into the same plight – Leonardo Da Vinci

Let no one who can be his own belong to another - Paracelsus

Although there are indeed aspects of androgyny associated with this Trump, the image is distinctly masculine as is its numeral, the phallic 1. This number carries a completely different symbology than the circle of the Fool. It represents the fixity of gender roles and the beginnings of the ascent from the pleromatic, uroboric state of non-differentiated existence. The number connotes primal active causation, the move from a point of contained singularity, as well as the existential separation that must follow from this. All numbers take their existence from addition or multiplication to one, not zero.

I am the One that transforms into Two, I am the Two that transforms into Four, I am the Four that transforms into Eight, after this I am One again (Hermetic Adage)

Unlike the Fool, the countenance of the Magician faces downward toward the earth. His is the problem of how energy becomes matter and vice versa, how one must do and be at the same time, and be themselves yet know another. He learns that the apple once plucked cannot be replaced, that the thought once had cannot be unthought, and that though each glass of water is changed forever by the drinking one is also changed forever by that simple act. Ultimately, he learns that true magic is not the operation of mind on, or over, protean matter but the operation of the latter on the mind. By learning to see through his eyes rather than with them, and by feeling with his heart rather than with his senses, he will come to understand the fallacy of thinking there to be a difference between physical and psychic energy. By throwing off the chains of the known he inherits that which no other can bestow but himself. He dons the red robe of Jacob, and as Magician, Prophet and Philosopher King, reinventing himself every day, he finally understands that the soul is not something one is given or finds, but something one creates. The soul of the Magician rises like the single resplendent lotus from the waters of his own being, to be a light unto itself.

Know then thyself, presume not God to scan, the proper study of man is man - Alexander Pope

Thou art a Man, God is no more; Thy own humanity learn to adore - William Blake

Though earth and man were gone, And suns and universes ceased to be, And thou wert left alone, Every existence would exist in Thee - Emily Bronte

When this card falls for us in a divination style reading, or is one of our significators, it deals with openings and beginnings, with individuality, independence and autonomy of action. It also connotes expertise, originality and new approaches to old problems. It asks us to assume greater control over our lives and enterprises, to put ourselves first and be very goal oriented. It indicates a busy time and the acceleration of the daily routine. It can also represent the entrance into our lives of exceptional people, or of one ambivalent and idiosyncratic individual unlike anyone we have encountered before. Such a person inspires and makes it easy for us to learn more about the different aspects of ourselves. His influence helps us to fashion a new identity which improves our interface with the world. Essentially, the Magician is the part of ourselves that knows we can do anything we set our minds to, and do it to perfection. His is the voice of confidence and will within us, that speaks when all hope seems lost and when the whole world seems against us. He knows that there are always “possibilities,” and that there are no mistakes only discoveries.

The higher spirit of the Magus existed in Dante, Harry Houdini, P. T. Barnum and Lumiere, in Nicola Tesla, Irwin Rommel, Charles Herrold, Howard Armstrong, Sigmund Freud, Wilhelm Reich, Charles Lindbergh, Edmund Hillary, Madam Blavatsky, Ayn Rand, Emily Dickinson, Rod Serling, Sergio Leone and Ezra Pound. It is his essence we find in Les Paul, David Copperfield, Werner Herzog and Sam Shepard.

As mentioned earlier, the Magician is commonly said to represent the descent of the soul into the dark, foreboding realms of matter. Indeed, being the first card of the Major Arcana, the Magician is correctly interpreted as a symbol for the primordial severance between heaven and earth, spirit and mind, soul and matter, or even between stereotype and archetype. During the primal scission of its nature, One-ness becomes Two-ness. But this Two-ness must, in order to be, contain whatever One-ness is. So then the question arises, which one of the two is the One, or are they both the One? If the two parts of Two are both One, then One-ness has, in fact, strengthened itself by doubling. Is two stronger than one? How does weakness become a strength? The One has, in fact, "cloned" itself to become Two. It has replicated its own nature and projected its duplicate externally. It is now its own mirror image. So far so good. However, the trouble begins when the original One loses its own distinct sense of selfhood, and comes to identify itself solely with either one of the two Ones contained in Two. It now can only recognize its identity relatively, in contrast to what it is not, or what it imagines it is not. It is now caught in an eternal paradox. In order to sense its own sovereign identity it must be in contradistinction to something which is its supposed opposite. But that opposite was originally conjured by itself. The "other" entity in Two-ness is One also. So the first One now lives and exists in contradistinction to itself. Thus, duality becomes the affirmation of individuality. The One's idea of identity rests on its experience of duality. This is the perplexity of the Mind, forever trapped in its very own "Looking Glass World," ever wrestling with the conflict it has created through compulsive wonderment at the mystery of its own nature. The symbol of the lemniscate, above the head of the Magician (Rider-Waite), was added to emphasize this conundrum. The closed or downward looking eyes of the figure, and his gesture, also serve to connote the loss of connection to the original unity which exists outside of the locked doors of an ego-hood born from a metaphysical dichotomy and sustained by duality.

What is the fall? If it is unity become duality, it is not god who is fallen? - Charles Baudelare

The demiurge Nous has therefore set up these two principles in himself, the straight and the circular, and produced out of himself two monads, the one acting in a circular fashion to perfect all intelligible essences, the other moving in a straight line to bring all intelligible things to birth - Keiran Barry (Greek Qabala)

The number of the Magician is 1. This number implies many things. It implies beginnings, starts, openings and firsts. It is the number we habitually associate with birth and newness. Firsts occur daily, but they always entail endings. Zero is ending not beginning. One is beginning, and a beginning is a state between two endings (1 is really 010). Firsts occur most often to the mind which is fresh, which is reborn moment by moment. The mind which consciously "reincarnates" moment by moment does not require experiences to be always fresh and new, since it is itself fresh and new. Such a mind does not fear death, for death is its resurrector not destroyer. The First is a strange phenomena. It brings with it challenge. It can also bring with it wisdom. The first day at school, the first kiss, the first loss. It is never forgotten. It never ages. But what existed before the First? From what or when do all our Firsts derive? Anything? Nothing? Is not the first of something the last of something else?

"Once Upon A Time," in the beginning, like a Queen to her Prince, the Universe lovingly bestowed upon Mind the "gift" of itself - the Universe. The Mind received this most precious of bestowals in the same way we each do after taking birth. However, the mind did not wholly enjoy the gift, for the immensity and numinosity of the gift's nature and energy seemed threatening in many ways, and seemed to possess elusive qualities outside of its direct authority and control. Though it "owned" the gift, it could not feel that it owned it. Therefore, as time passed, and as the littleness of the mind strengthened in its antipathy against the natural ambient magnitude of Nature, it began with its master-plan to replicate nature inwardly within the confines of its own mental labyrinths. Like a digital sampler's recording of a real musical instrument, the mind, in the true sense of the word, "digitally" replicates the Universe external to itself. This primordial mental process goes on every minute within everyone with mind. And it goes on eternally. The ego which oversees this Magnum Opus, then imagines itself regent over the ersatz universe it has fashioned within its once blank holotropic canvas. Mind becomes god over its own heavens and hells whereas, in the external Universe, there is no need for any ruling presence or authority. The artifice is supremely successful, and the uncanny similarity between the two universes confounds the average Thinker, the average consciousness, which imagines that, through thinking and other mental processes, it actually experiences the Real. This delusion is one of the greatest successes of the Demiurgic ego-tyrant, the Rex Mundi, or self-proclaimed Lord of the World. The masquerade works because most want it to work, want to have it all in the comfort of their own home, or head. Why go "out there" into the cold strange world that does not express feelings like we do, or have consciousness like we do? Better to inhabit the world as composed and orchestrated by thought, kept warm and active by words, desires and achievements, kept safe by the camaraderie of fellow slaves too infatuated with their artificially endowed rank and importance to question or terminate their obscene anti-life. It is only a true Magician ("Truman")* who, after much observation, exploration, doubt and self-investigation, can succeed in penetrating the lie, walk out of the director's studio through a door in the sky, and come into rapport with the deeper magic behind his own mind's tantalizing conjuring trick.

She gently took the self-forgetting soul by the hand...and showed him all the experiences in the universe, all manifestation, bringing him higher and higher through various bodies, 'till his lost glory came back, and he remembered his own nature - Swami Vivekananda (Raja Yoga)

Few there are who come to realize the deeper magic that existed before the ego's great enterprise began, before its infernal machines began churning to grind reality into the stuff of mind. Those who remember the spirit which bestowed the original gift of life and Universe are not content to remain sampled heroes or villains within the data-space of a virtual kingdom, regardless of how grand and alluring it appears. They forego the many enticements and, like the Fool (of the previous card), they prepare to walk off into the unknown, off the cliff's edge into...?

Tyger, Tyger, burning bright In the forests of the night What immortal hand or eye Dare frame thy fearful symmetry? William Blake

Card's 0 and 1 of the Tarot concern the "two paths" one can go down while bearing the gift of life. Their difference may be the difference between the circle and the line, or the wave and the pulse, the black or the white, the inhale and exhale, or the Tiger and the Lamb. On a spherical planet the roads can appear straight. Yet, the straight line may eventually fold back on itself beyond the limits of our sight, to become a circle. Or perhaps it is all in the "eye" of the beholder. Perhaps, it is the limit of our sight which, as Tennyson wrote, erroneously perceives "a straight stick bent in a pool." Either path has, however, much to teach its traveler. The Magician has just as fascinating a tale to tell as the Fool.

And, perhaps, the greatest trick of all is that while we were closely examining the antics and capers of either Fool or Mage, it was at that moment that we became either Fool or Mage ourselves. If the 0 (zero) is a mirror, and the 1 (one) a looker, then both will contain each other. Only, which one is truly the reflection? As only an object can cast a shadow, so can only an stereotype cast an archetype. Or, is it the other way around? What if the Fool and the Mage were to stand before us, and what if we had but one question to ask either - just one question to know freedom and which way to go - then which one will we decide to ask for our answer? Moreover, only one will give a right answer, whereas the other is programmed to deceive. The Fool or the Magician?...It's your question, its your choice!

Listen close the counsel of the "Truman" (True-Man) in yourself: Let go of all that is second hand and borrowed, be it name, religion, country or persona. Born in the "image of god," means to be without division, be it of class, gender, color, creed or caste. What if there were no authorities, no paths, experts, theories, opinions, or interpretations? How would you alone come into rapport with the ALL, directly and authentically? How do you follow the advice of Christ and become your own priest and priestess? Ask, what part of yourself do you love? What part of yourself do you hate? Are you all that you want to be, and are you happy to be where you now are? For the future will always remain the future and the past is no more. There is only the PRESENT and this is why it is perhaps called so, for it is a benediction that can be cherished every moment of every day. As Heidegger reminded us, the word think comes from the same root as thank. Each thought is, therefore, an expression of gratitude to, and for, the Universal Order into which we wake each morning and from which we are estranged only by our own narcissism and insensitivity.

There was something formless yet complete, That existed before heaven and earth, Without sound, without substance, Dependent on nothing, unchanging, All pervading, unfailing, One may think of it is as the Mother, Of all things under Heaven - Lao Tzu (Tao Te Ching)

The Magician embarks on his uroboric journey of 21 stages. When he finally reaches his destination he may, for a while, turn and glance lovingly backward along the shimmering serpentine road he has traveled for so long. Then, amongst his many realizations and musings, he will know, as only he can know, that the entire Universe is indeed contained within him, and that the massive and complex "crucifix" of time, distance, space and speed he created, contemplated, coveted, adored, and eventually loathed and rejected, was but an insubstantial mirage; the mere shadow of a facade in a theatre of a dream from which he has, like unto Lazarus, finally awakened.

We don't receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us - Marcel Proust

* Truman - A reference to the film The Truman Show, by Peter Weir



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