Sunday, October 9, 2016

Magic and The Magician in Tarot

     The Magician

The Magician in
Tarot of Cosmic Consciousness
Let’s get to the core of this discussion right away. The first thing we need to consider is that the power of human imagination is capable of imagining anything. The next thing to consider is the power of belief. We are capable of believing just about anything. The best part of this is acting on our beliefs, and that’s where the Tarot comes in.

Today, people use the Tarot card symbols for stimulating and inspiring our creative imagination. Each card with its specific meaning can help us understand our subjective experiences. In our modern society, very few people actually practice magic because we think we must be rational about everything. At least some of us would like to believe that. Richard Tarnas in his book “The Passion of the Western Mind,” discusses the foundations of the modern world view since the 17th century:

“…the order of the modern cosmos was now comprehensible in principle by man’s rational and
empirical faculties alone, while other aspects of human nature emotional, aesthetic, ethical, volitional, relational, imaginative, epiphanic were generally regarded as irrelevant or distortional for an objective understanding of the world.” P. 287

He regarded this as, “…mechanistic principles having no special relation to either human existence per se, or to any divine reality.”  (My note: This view dismisses and discounts any other view, so there! they say!)

In the ancient past, early peoples believed in mythological, supernatural, or as we might think of, imaginary beings with magical powers.

Who or what is The Magician card and what is magic?
In ancient times, magicians, or shamans, medicine men/women, conducted ceremonies and rituals hoping to bring forth other worldly beings with superhuman powers, and in some cases, demonic powers, to solve all our problems. According to Sir James Frazer, author of “The Golden Bough,” early peoples practiced magic in Mesopotamia, Persia, Egypt, Asia, Greece, Rome, and other European countries, and his entire book discusses what they did. We are astounded by the range of practices performed by the Holy Man or Holy Woman.  Most magicians were trying to influence these illusive intermediaries through rituals and spells. In earth magic, nature worshipping pagans were conjuring the deities of rocks, trees, plants, water, and animals, to act on their behalf to help them and grant their wishes: ethereal tree spirits, plant devas, and fairy-folk.  Giant stone circles were constructed in sacred places where seasonal rituals and ceremonies probably took place. Native Americans invoked weather-related spirits of wind, rain, lightning, and animals and plants, where they danced in kivas wearing masks that represented certain spirit beings. Their art reflects this in totems and kachina dolls. All this was to bring about different states of mind and a transformation of consciousness in order to exert power over the environment, over other people, and unknown forces. They also included dream and vision interpretation in their magical practices.
  Later, in Medieval European magic (before the 17th C) and in some kinds of hermetic magic, special incantations were used to create or bring forth supernatural effects using charms, amulets, talismans, and spells.  In an opposite context, a more sinister shadowy world of malefic concoctions was created in “Black Magic,” with spells invoking “unclean” spirits to inflict pain and bring misfortune upon others. And then there were the charlatans, soothsayers, and street magicians who performed seemingly magic tricks for a coin or two by slight of hand.
In modern thought, for most of us, it is almost impossible to go back to the methods of the ancient past and actually participate in ritualistic magic. We just don’t believe in it as our ancestors did. Why? Because they really believed in what they practiced.

On another note, concerning empiricist thinking, Rene Eisler in her book “The Chalice and the Blade,” discusses The Failure of Reason:

“Finally, after Auschwitz and Hiroshima, the promise of reason began to be questioned… How could one explain the carefully reasoned military experiments of the effects of the atomic bomb and radiation on living and totally helpless human beings? Could all this superefficient mass destruction be called an advance for humanity? 

Where does the Tarot fit into all this? Tarot practitioners feel there is more to life that just what goes on in our everyday materialistic working world. Some want the adventure of the mind, and sense the importance of human imagination that transcends human knowledge. Some like to find meaning in the magic of mystery, randomness, and creative thinking. Others just want to overcome the boredom of deterministic thought.  
The meaning of The Magician in “Tarot of Cosmic Consciousness” is about the work one does to discern the difference between reality and unreality, the truth and a lie. One can become more open to “the heavens above,” so to speak, and can be a conduit for Cosmic Energy. Here one focuses on self-transformation by using the “tools” of Tarot: Wands- establishing one’s true identity; Cups-finding an inner life; Swords-having creative ideas; and Coins or Pentacles-putting your best foot forward in the physical manifestation of your own persona.
My teacher, Gail Fairfield, discusses The Magician in terms of psychological insights in her book “Choice-Centered Relating and the Tarot.” The key is discernment. [It represents] “People: Who are analytical, problem solving, discriminating, discerning. [They use] Information: That is factual, that dispels illusions, that gives answers.” Any magic in that is found in how you interpret the insights and real facts about your situation and experiences. The choice of solutions is up to you.  The best part is that you take responsibility to work it out for yourself without other worldly beings stepping in on your behalf. It’s really up to you.

Now I will go out and check on the gnomes guarding my garden, just in case.