Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Major Arcana: MAGIC

The next card in the Major Arcana, the I card, is titled Magic in the Lover's Path. Traditionally represented by the Magician in the Ryder-Waite deck, I find that the transition from Magician to Magic is a subtle but significant one.

Here Magic is represented by Merlin, perhaps the most famous of all magicians. Merlin is the mystical figure associated with the tale of King Arthur, some claiming that it was Merlin who persuaded the Lady of the Lake to bestow upon Arthur the magical sword, Excalibur. which would empower him as sole monarch of the land. Others have also credited the construction of Stonehenge to Merlin; this massive and mysterious stone circle set in southwest England is full of magic and power.

Yet, as powerful as Merlin's magic may have been, it could not compete with the magic of love. After many years serving others through his magic, Merlin would finally find his love. He encountered and became besotted by Vivianne, an ethereally beautiful woman sometimes associated with the magical Lady of the Lake, and she begged him to take her on as his pupil. As a validation of her worth, she traveled with Merlin, living humbly alongside him with the beasts of the forest.

His devoted servant, she fulfilled all of his needs save one: she would not love him.

In time, the proximity of Vivianne got the better of Merlin's power, and he gave in to her against his better judgement. Unable to resist her pleading, he taught her all the he knew of the magical arts. And when he had no more to teach her, he begged her to take pity upon his devoted heart.

Vivianne decided to put Merlin out of his misery.

She gazed upon Merlin, now completely under her spell, and administered the coup de grace. Arthur's end varies, depending on which version of the Arthurian tales you read, but they all have the same result. Merlin would never return to Arthur's court.

Whatever happened, Merlin's end was clear. The magic which empowered him had been undone by the only thing more powerful: love had trumped his sorcery.

Here, Merlin is depicted at the moment of his transformation from beguiler to beguiled. He is surrounded by the instruments of alchemy, which he had taught Vivianne to utlize. As Vivianne casts her spell, Merlin is overcome by love, by magic, and by awareness come too late: He now knows something more powerful than himself.

The lesson of the Magic card is that we should never become too confident in our own powers, and should always remember the mystical and overshadowing power of love.

When the Magic card appears in a reading, it represents that the querent is developing the magic within. It could also mean casting a spell on someone else to create positive change. Self empowerment and actualization, a yearning to grow beyond perceived limitations, or the ability to transform your life through originality and personal power may also be symbolized by this card. When this card appears, it could signify renewed creativity and vigor or a yearning to grow beyond limitations. It is one of the most powerful, transformative cards of the major arcana.

When the Magic card appears in the reversed or weakly aspected position, however, it represents blocked power, when the querent is feeling under the spell of another's power. It could represent manipulation or the exploitation of others. It also represents a need to control situations behind the scenes and secrecy, or trickster behavior that creates distrust. A reversed Magic card should indicate to the querent that he or she should be very wary and introspective regarding deceit and manipulation.

On a personal note, when I see the Magic card, I am always reminded of the person who first helped me develop my own psychic abilities, for he had a great deal of his own magic, which he then shared with me.

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