The Magician’s number is One, the number of creation and individuality; his power is transformation through the use of his will. In his manipulation of the basic elements into all the substances and materials of life, he shows us that from a foundation of the mundane can emerge all that is to come. He can take the Nothing from which the Fool emerged and shape it into Something, making one out of zero. Clearly this is power of a divine sort, and it is true that the Magician is a conduit for a higher power, which commands all of the material world. Since all that we can see in the physical world is the conduit himself, the acts he performs often seem like magic.
The Magician may seem like a strange title for someone who holds real power, because the word “magician” tends to conjure up pictures of illusionists and escape artists, whose power involves sleight of hand and misdirection. The Magician, however, is similar to the stage illusionist in many ways. He is confident in his skills and his ability to produce the effects that he wants. His real power comes from sources outside of him, and he is powerless without these sources, just as an illusionist depends on people “behind the scenes”. Both magician and Magician, however, are as important to their powers are the powers are to them. Without a conduit, power itself is impotent and useless.
With his powers the Magician holds influence over all – theory and practice, logic and emotion, thought and action. Almost every modern depiction of the Magician includes one or more symbols of infinity to denote his limitless power; the snake eating its tail and the lemniscate (horizontal figure-eight) being chief among these. This limitless power comes from sources outside his body yet under his control. And as long as the Magician remembers that this power is his to command, even if he loses all of his worldly power and skill he can never truly be called powerless. For his Will is a power that, while it can be subdued, it can never be destroyed.
Another nearly universal association with the Magician is the red-and-white color scheme. This theme recurs throughout the Tarot and it is very symbolic that it starts with this card and not the Fool. For while the Fool was the potential for positive and negative, the Magician is the union of positive and negative. He creates and he preserves; he destroys and he redeems. His true power is that he not only knows what he must do, but he knows how he must do it, and why he must do it. Then he does it. The Magician reminds us that a wish alone will change nothing, but a decision can change everything. A desire to create is nothing without an ability to create, and vice-versa.
When the Magician appears he shows that you are ready to become a conduit for power, like he is. The forces of creation and destruction have always been at your command but now you have the wisdom and confidence needed to use them constructively. Now is the time to act, if you know what is it you want to accomplish and why. Since the powers of transformation are at your command, change your desires into objectives, your thoughts into actions, your goals into achievements. If you have recently met with failure, now you can change that failure into success as easily as the Magician changes fire into water. The only limits you have are those you impose on yourself.
The outward manifestations of such power are as numerous as they are varied, but the most common outer effect of the Magician’s influence is unswaying and total confidence. The realization that the world is under your control is what inspires this kind of confidence, and with good reason. So go out into the world, set your mind to whatever goal you are interested in, and then just stand back and watch as everything falls into place under your command. Ultimately, the message of the Magician is a simple one despite his limitless and infinitely complex power. Your life is under your control. Your life is what you want it to be. Your life is what you make it.