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The Magician - Jekyll and Hyde?

Thread originally posted on the Aeclectic Tarot Forum on 25 May 2003, and now archived in the Forum Library.

gloria  25 May 2003 
I’ve always thought of the Magician as being a bit of a dodgy character, even when appearing upright.
Up to his old tricks again, trying to put one over on someone, giving it plenty of spiel. I doubt you’d fancy buying a second-hand car off this guy.
He manages to hide behind this “front” or façade, rather like an actor playing a role. You want to believe him, you know you shouldn’t believe him, oh God you haven’t gone and fell for that old chestnut again have you? Get the picture?

However recently I’ve started to see him in a different light, a maverick, an innovator. Someone who can actually get it together. If you have a project, a plan or schedule that needs to be completed by yesterday, ask The Magician. He’ll have something up his sleeve, he’ll pull something out of the hat. He’s top man for me at the moment, that’s so long as he doesn’t fall from the pedestal he’s placed himself on.

What views do you have on this guy? 

DeLani  25 May 2003 
hmmm...I've never really thought of him as a shady character, but I do see him as the one who can do anything out of simply nothing. He's an innovator, a communicator, a multi-tasking self-starter. He takes the energy of pure will and transforms it into real tangible things. 

Belladonna  25 May 2003 
I see this guy as the motivational, inspirational speaker. He harnesses the power of others to bring about his desires, but I don't necessarily imply that his desires are shady or selfish. He just has a way of getting people to work together towards a goal. He has the connections. He has a sense of timing. He is efficient and direct. He has a way of PRESENTING himself. I think that's the real trick. 

Sobeknofret  25 May 2003 
I see him as the trickster a la, Merlin in the Arthurian legends, or Coyote in the Southwestern Native American tradition. He can, and is perfectly willing to, pull a fast one over on you, but it's for a good reason: he's trying to get you to see something, trying to show you that you're being pretentious or silly, trying to get you to look at a situation more closely. I honestly see him as having the combined qualities of the RWS Magician-- serious and powerful, with a strong will, and the qualities of the Marseilles decks Magician (Le Bateleur)-- a street magician, occasionally slightly shady and prone to feats of sleight of hand.


DarkElectric  25 May 2003 
I see the Magician as being an archetypal trickster too. Not as duplicitous as, say, Loki~ but depending on the situation he can have that aspect to his character. As with all trickster archetypes, it's sort of "Trick or Treat", with the emphasis on the trick and the ensuing lesson learned. I also see him as one who is mastering the energies of the elements, with the goal of transformation and manifestation.
In this aspect he is less of a trickster and more of an artiste. But, I do think it depends on the situation. He can be all that everyone has mentioned, at the same time. Now that's magick for ya! 

Thirteen  25 May 2003 

I'm certainly in agreement with you--and with a lot of what has been said here, though I think that people are often so very fond of the Magician that they don't want to see that "Hyde" potential. Not to undercut his good side--as I think he's got a very, very good side, but saying, for example, that the Magician only tricks you for your own good is a little too...facilitating for me. So you forgive that guy for using your credit card to steal all your money because it taught you how to watch your finances?

I don't think so.

Let's call a Magician a Magician. He tricks, and while it may always be for entertainment purposes--it may not be for YOUR entertainment--or edification. Still, even at his worst, the Magician is no Mr. Hyde. The trickster in any mythology, be he Loki or Mercury or even Satan in some instances (Satan the fast talker or liar as compared to the up-front deal maker), does what he does because he loves convincing people. He loves being clever. He isn't trying to be evil (he's pretty much amoral)--he just wants to show off his trick. His mind moves so fast, it has such ideas, he can't resist showing them off. And that includes the Jekyll side that wants, so very badly, to show you his clever new cure for cancer, as well as the salesman who wants to trick you into buying his snake oil. You can see him trying to convince you either way, "This will save mankind!"

Once the Magican has done his trick, gotten his applause, inspired his audience--and I love the idea of the magicain as motivational speaker; that's very much the sort of thing the Magician would want to do, amaze, TRANSFORM and inspire people--once done, its onto a new trick, a new cure. That's one way to distinguish him from "Mr. Hyde."

Mr. Hyde (or "The Devil") doesn't want to let go of you. Any people he collects, he wants to keep, forever. Another way to tell it's Mr. Hyde is that he's less likely to lure you in with words as THINGS--wealth, power, sex, love even. He'll show you the pretty girls, the liquor, the treasure chest of jewels. "Here's candy little girl, just step this way....". And once he has you, he'll keep you by letting you know that if you leave, you'll lose it all. And he's right. You will. Very nasty is Mr. Hyde.

The Magician isn't nasty. He's just trying to show off how clever he is--and he likes it best when you're clever enough to appreciate his trickery. That, ultimately, is what I think the Magician wants most--to have his cleverness, his oratory skills, even is medical prowess apprecated. And if you're too dim to appreciate them, then he feels no guilt at all taking you for the fool that you are. 

HudsonGray  25 May 2003 
"The Magician isn't nasty. He's just trying to show off how clever he is."

I agree! Remember, he's the first step on the Fool's Journey, there's all those other cards beyond that first step. The Magician can be smoke & mirrors, form over content, but he's not the end of the journey, simply the first step outward on a learning path. 

Indigo_lady  26 May 2003 
It's all a matter of choices for me...

The magician for me it's the kid at school who has the best grades (and is not the nerd being bullied), the charisma, the charm, he can get THE girl, he can talk the teachers into anything, he can lead his entire class into doing whatever he wants without them even noticing...

for me, think Ferris Bueller (however u spell that.. a proper noun anyways) meets Bill Gates inside the Federal Reserve .... unlimited potential and just the right amount of sharpness, mischief, and wickedness to make him irresistible -for me that is, I'm sorry but I always fall for the tall mysterious "I can take over the world if I want to" types... :-p

But that's where the Magician is for me... he has the potential to do absolutely anything he wants, from taking over the world (my alter egos personal favourite.. I love a man in power) to solving world hunger. But it's his CHOICE what he will do ... of course whichever route he chooses he will show it off ;)

Still, no greek destiny for this man

"WE are not what we bring, but the choices we make" as Dumbledore tells Harry

Look into history, someone who had everything going on for him once made a choice between baseball and social change ... 

divinerguy  26 May 2003 
Have you ever heard of surgeons being referred to as a magician?

Lots of skill, no doubt about it, but definitiely a flair for the dramatic, with a healthy ego as well. A lot of the magician in doctors and lawyers.

A showman, Las Vegas, lots of glitz, bright lights and sequins, etc.

I see the magician as sometimes overly flashy, and a little on the shallow side. 

NeXoRiouS  26 May 2003 
Jack of all trades, master of none.

This was what I saw from someone's post in the forum. Made a mark in my memory so significantly that I will always think of this line whenever I sees the Magician. 

Indigo_lady  26 May 2003 
Originally posted by divinerguy
Have you ever heard of surgeons being referred to as a magician?

Lots of skill, no doubt about it, but definitiely a flair for the dramatic, with a healthy ego as well. A lot of the magician in doctors and lawyers.

hummm all the surgeons I've met are certainly conceited and *proud* (ehem .. this IS an understatement) of their craft...

ohh I forgot to mention, one of the choices is also to sit there with all ur potential and do absolutely nothing about it, leaving it to waist.. 

gloria  26 May 2003 
Firstly thank you all for taking the time to reply.
I have taken all that you have said about this man into account, but you know I still feel he isn’t called The Magician for nothing.
Belladonna, you say he has a way of PRESENTING himself, and that that is the real trick.
Exactly! He’ll choose the guise necessary for the occasion - and here lies the problem – we see only the person he wants us to see.
Certain words, sentences leap out from your posts.
Sobe’s street magician, prone to feats of sleight of hand – I can definitely see this guy operating in London’s Oxford Street. Rich pickings for the pick-pocket.
DarkElectric it would certainly teach me to secure my bag in future should I have my credit card “lifted”
Yes we are sent these trials and tribulations to teach us lessons in life.
Just picture The Fool coming up against divinerguy’s flashy showman Las Vegas style – putty in his hands.
Talking about doctors divinerguy, we had a magician archetype here in the UK, a Doctor Shipman. Turns out he was a serial killer and had been bumping off scores of his patients for years. To all of them his “face” was that of the traditional, reliable, family doctor.
HudsonGray, I agree he is the first step for The Fool to encounter, but sadly there are some that don’t make it past The Magician. Take the drug addict for example. The lure of the needle, but never getting the better of it. For some the inevitable O.D., let’s not go down that road……..
Thirteen, I agree, he is amoral. The politics of right/wrong good/bad don’t come into it. It’s a way of life for him.
NeXoRiouS, I laughed when I read your Jack of all trades, master of none. The jury’s out on that one, but who knows?
Indigo-lady’s “man in power” oh yes I’d go along with that.
Call me cynical if you like, but should he come up in a reading, I shan’t take him at face value,
I shall have to investigate what lies behind the “mask”
However,I think we would all agree on one thing, The Magician is extremely talented and warrants respect.
Many thanks, Gloria. 

jmd  26 May 2003 
The Magician, the legerdemain, the prestigiator and prestidigitator... the manipulator of the elements, the mastering of the tools of the trade... and what an glorious comment in your last post, gloria:
    'I shall have to investigate what lies behind the "mask"'
...or should this be read as:
    'I shall have to invest -igate.... ... ... What lies behind the mask!'
This has indeed been a wonderful thread, and the Bateleur's many skills and offerings are there for the journey. 

Thirteen  26 May 2003 
Originally posted by gloria
Talking about doctors divinerguy, we had a magician archetype here in the UK, a Doctor Shipman. Turns out he was a serial killer and had been bumping off scores of his patients for years. To all of them his ?face? was that of the traditional, reliable, family doctor.

Although the Magician is most definately the card of doctors and charismatic faces, I thnk we can safely say that this fellow was NOT a Magician Archetype! The TOWER maybe--all false facade tumbling down to reveal a catastrophic truth--but never the Magician. It's just NOT his style. Thief, yes, absolutely. Take the money and run. But serial killer? You don't kill off your audience--or your marks!

No. Too messy, too ugly, too dangerous, too vulgar. If the Magician is going to kill you, he'll do it in public and with a bolt of lightning so that everyone watching is astonished and in awe of him. Even then, I can't see it. Merlin is more likely to turn someone who badmouths him into a toad, rather than kill him. MUCH more impressive.

Our Magician Archtype is far more likely to be the guy in CATCH ME IF YOU CAN--Playing Doctor so he can sweet talk the nurses and get away with a trick, not feed a murderous obsession. Remember also that most Serial Killers maintain that other persona; it's often very "REAL" to them--like having a split personality. This is very different from our Magician's many costume changes--which he can put on and toss aside with no regrets, often with no emotional investment. In that you are most certainly correct: the Magician IS a showman and it's rare indeed that you see anything beneath that glittering surface. He's that "onion" type, layer after layer--but never a center. 

gloria  27 May 2003 
I agree Thirteen that murder isn’t The Magician’s style. That is, not an upfront, in-your-face type of murder. Thereby endorsing the fact straight away, he’s not an upfront kind of guy! But then it wasn’t the end product that was under discussion.
I used Dr.Shipman as an example of how The Magician would apply tactics of sheer cunning to get what he wanted.
I think we’ve already established the fact that he operates under many guises. Dr.S’s patients saw him as a kind and trustworthy man. A”front” he had to employ to gain their trust. If he’d merely told his patients,”hop up on the couch, strip to the waist, I’m going to give you a lethal injection,” I doubt they would have gone along with that.
I think the Dr. Shipman case was a good illustration of one of the many facets of The Magician.

Regards Gloria. 

LittleWing  27 May 2003 
for me the magician is powerful - in a positive way. great mental powers - by mind over matter, he can accomplish anything.

if there is an air of trickery about this card (which sometimes is yes) - it would be , for me, the power of success - for example, someone whom is not a specialist having the great abilityand power to succeed in a certain subject or area.

trickery is not always a bad thing. it is just a way of saying that you did not know what was going to happen. 

gloria  27 May 2003 
Thanks for that LittleWing.
You have reminded me that there is indeed a positive side to The Magician.

Thirteen  28 May 2003 
Originally posted by gloria
I agree Thirteen that murder isn’t The Magician’s style. That is, not an upfront, in-your-face type of murder. Thereby endorsing the fact straight away, he’s not an upfront kind of guy! But then it wasn’t the end product that was under discussion.

Ah, but you see, Gloria, the end product IS under discussion. Because the Magician is not the only card in the deck that, archtypically, is about things/people not being what they seem--or about cunning for that matter. The Devil presents himself as ready to give you anything you want--but what he's really trying to do is trap you. VERY cunning! The High Priestess seems a closed book, but she's really a compendium of knowledge--very clever of her, as only those persistently in search of that knowledge stick around to get it.

And the Tower is the most amazing structure on Earth--but that's just the facade. In reality, it's ready to crumble to the ground, crushing everyone inside. Fools many people who invest in those lies--and then are shaken to the core when the truth is revealed.

Others may not agree with me on this, but hear me out: this is what I believe:

Just wearing a friendly face or being cunning does not make one a Magician. Nor does it even indicate a use of Magician tactics--NOT unless the END PRODUCT is something only the Magican (not the Devil, the HPS, not the Tower) would want. What did Dr. Shipman want in the end? Did he think he was doing people favors, being kind? Did he think he would be admired and applauded--and wanted folk to find out? Or did he want to keep it all secret, forever? Did he just have a compulsive urge he couldn't stiffle--and no matter what line of work he was in, he would have found a secret way to satisfy it?

It matters. The Magician ONLY wants to keep his method a secret--not the results. If he's going to kill, you'll never know how he did it--or THAT he did it for sure (he's NOT going to get convicted if he can avoid it!). But the end product will be very fashly and spectacular, like the conclusion of a trick. I can, in fact, tell you EXACTLY the sort of murder a Magician would do. It would go something like this: he tells his victim they'll be dead in two days. The victim locks themselves away with bodyguards and dogs and such in an imprenetrable fortress. Food is checked, etc. Nothing can get in or out. The victim is sure he's safe. On the second day, he's found dead. No indication of how, famboyantly laid out, a horrible expresson on his face.

How did the Magician do it? And did he, in fact, even do it? That's the sort of murder you get with the Magician. If Dr. Shipman was trying to do something similar, then I argree, he's a Magician type. But if he was trying to satify that serial killer urge to murder, then, no, that's not the Magician, even if the method involved cunning. The END PRODUCT for the Magician, the reason for wearing the face, is to inspire awe, amazement, etc. And it's that end product that distinguishes the Magician from the Devil or the Tower, who can be equally cunning and false, and friendly on the outside, but not so nice on the inside. 

oliveoil  28 May 2003 
To me the Magician represents the ability to shape great things, however, lacks the maturity (the Fool's Journey) to maintain or take responsibility for what "he" creates. I'm not sure he even cares what happens beyond what he effects. 

The The Magician - Jekyll and Hyde? thread was originally posted on 25 May 2003 in the Using Tarot Cards board, and is now archived in the Forum Library. Read the threads in Using Tarot Cards, or read more archived threads.

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