Tarot Becoming The Magician

Sometimes an archetype’s impact on our lives only become clear in retrospect. My own journey to launching my first business, The Hermit Priestess, is one example that I look back on and clearly see moments when I both embraced and admittedly ran from the lessons The Magician was bringing me. In the two decades since I first encountered the cards, I have discovered my calling in spiritual counseling with the tarot.

I found my partner, Aleister Crowley and Lady Frieda Harris’s Thoth Tarot, shortly after I began learning to read tarot, and it has been my faithful companion since. In these early years, I also developed a spread of my own, as none of the traditional spreads really resonated with me.

An alternate Magician card in The Thoth Tarot

After several years of working with the cards, I fell into a rhythm of reading for strangers by looking at the cards and allowing my mind to loosely create the story that they told. As I would begin to tell the story that my logical mind understood from the cards, at some point intuition would take over, and I would simply become the conduit for the querent’s (client’s) higher self. Frequently, folks would return to me and say, “Remember that crazy thing you said was going to happen? It happened!”

Of course, I often didn’t remember, because when I do my job well, I become the channel for higher truth—not my truth, but theirs—so I don’t really need to be “present.” In fact, the less I interject my own “common sense” into a reading, the more likely it is to ring true to the querent. I learned to say whatever came to me intuitively, no matter how little sense it makes to my waking mind.

When I graduated college and started graduate school to pursue a “real career,” I slowly drifted away from the sacred work I had been doing with the tarot and spiritual counseling. As I worked to progress in my chosen field—social work—I actively began to hide this part of myself. I was afraid if people knew I read tarot, I would lose credibility in the so-called “professional world.” So I stopped reading for the public, and only shared my secret with those whom I decided were “safe.” For ten years, I practiced my art in private with close confidantes.

All that was fine and well, until a few years ago, when people began encouraging me to share my readings more widely.

One dear friend said, “I have never seen you more powerful than you are when you have that deck in your hands.”

An alternate Magician card in The Thoth Tarot

Her comment hit me like a ton of bricks. Here was a person who had worked with me “in the real world,” telling me that my parlor tricks were more powerful than my degree and my license! I admit, I had the audacity to be hurt by my friend’s incredible gift of acknowledgement and validation, as if somehow I was less-than for having this skill. It took me years to re-think her words and how I felt about them.

More recently, another friend sat back in her chair at the conclusion of her reading with me, and said, “I’m just amazed that you aren’t doing this all the time!”

These and many other compliments are extremely nice things to hear, but anyone can learn to do what I do. We are all intuitive, and we each have access to our higher selves and Universal wisdom. All it takes is time and practice. I acknowledge that the tarot is not the specific tool for everyone, but I have learned that tarot reading is indeed for me; this I cannot seem to shake no matter how hard I try. I’m not perfect, and there are many things I have failed at, but this seems to be my gift—the unique thing I have to offer to others to help them be happier, healthier, and more fulfilled.

I eventually came to call what I do “spiritual counseling,” because I help clients make decisions that will be in their highest good. My readings often take the form of a conversation, and I regularly use what I learned in my years as a social worker to help clients access the resources and help they need. I take this work seriously and regard it as sacred and holy work. Clients come to me for help and solace in some of the most important times in their lives; it is an honor and a privilege to sit with them, hold space for them, and help them access the wisdom they need to move forward.

I also learned to charge for my services for several reasons. First of all, I charge because I have spent years learning my craft, practicing, meditating, and deepening my understanding of it. Doing readings for people is also intense work; it costs me in time and energy, for which I deserve to be compensated. Most of all, I charge because I have seen repeatedly that what people get for free, they do not use or value. When folks pay a premium for a service or product, they are more likely to take it seriously and use it to their advantage. By charging for my work, the client and I are engaging in an equal exchange, one from which we can both walk away feeling honored, valued, and fulfilled.

All these lessons and their accompanying epiphanies are examples of The Magician archetype at work in my life. The Magician’s number is 1, the number of unity, independence, action, and one of three representations of the divine masculine in the deck (the others are The Emperor and The Hermit). We all inhabit The Magician when we master our craft, become experts in our field, or become competent in something. The Magician is equipped with all the tools he needs—the wand (intuition and inspiration), the cup or chalice (access to emotion), the sword (knowledge and wisdom), and the coin or pentacle (physical health and tangible resources)—to manifest anything he desires.

The standard Magician card in The Thoth Tarot

The Magician is the channel, the principle of communication and infinite connectedness, and the conduit between thought and reality. You can see The Magician at work in your life during moments when you feel confident in your ability to complete a task, bring something into fruition, or achieve a certain outcome. It’s when you feel powerful and motivated. 

The Magician is also Mercury—the Communicator and Messenger of Ideas. When Mercury is retrograde (or reversed, in tarot terms), communication is bungled. What is intended is not necessarily conveyed, and processes are impeded. When we deny The Magician’s power in our lives, we deny our own capability and accountability for what our lives look like. In the worst case, an ill-dignified Magician is someone using their skills, talents, and tools—their power—for nefarious purposes.

The lessons we learn at the hand of The Magician are to channel our energy into productive things, to work toward mastery of something we value, to be intentional with the ways in which we communicate, and to use our resources wisely and fairly.