THE MAGICIAN / MERCURY
AS ABOVE, SO BELOW
Will, mastery, organizational
skills, creative talents. Ability to turn ideas into reality.
Self conscious phase of personal
/ Sukkah / Alchemy
Mercury and the mind rules here.
The Magus is the channel between the infinite and the human realm.
"Bet" means "house" in Hebrew,
and is the protected space of the individual mind.
"B" is a contained sound,
first developing in a space enclosed by lips and mouth, an internal
activity, and so also, the symbol of "house."
The letters jumped
from the crown of the Creator, starting with Tav, pleading to be the first
Every letter has a shortcoming, disqualifying it, until Bet, the first
letter of "BeRESHeet," (in the beginning), the first word in the Bible.
Aleph was left behind, so God compensated by making Aleph the first letter
of the alphabet, and of the 10 commandments.
Bet is a "Double
Letter," with two sounds.
The first letter in the Bible
(Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy) is Bet, beginning the
word v'resheet - "at beginning":
The word above is "At
the Beginning" - "vuh-RAY-shees" - the first word in the Torah (Bible).
(Rosh, or resh, [Key
19] means "head;" same as "beginning;" "vuh" means "at.")
"Genesis" is a Greek word used for the same book that Jews call Bereishis.
"Bet" is also the first letter
of "Barukh" - the first word in a Jewish brakha, or prayer. Translated
as "blessed," it is primarily praise, and an expression of awe and gratitude
for the Creator, to whom the prayer is addressed.
"BRKH", is a verb that means
"to bend the knee," or "to praise, adore, to bless," and is used by the
prophet Isaiah: "Every knee will bend" (Isaiah 45:23). One interpretation
has it that this also means that the Creator, with infinite Mercy/Chesed,
is on bended knee, in order to bestow glory on Earth's creatures below.
It is useful to see the aleph-beyt
as a Hebrew tale of creation, beginning with Aleph
and ending with Tav. In this scheme,
Bet is the contraction of Tzimtzum,
coming after Aleph, the undifferentiated infinite.
Bet is the other, generated
from within the Infinite - Creator making boundaries within itself so that
difference becomes possible. From primal unity in Aleph, springs olam
ha'pirud - the "World of Distinctions," or "World of Separations."
Bet is a housing for
the divine energy, the form necessary for the unfolding of creative potential.
Every particle of creation is a bet of God. Aleph becomes Bet - God
The gematria of Aleph is one,
and that of Bet is two, again pointing to the differentiation process
- the unity creating other out of itself - from one to two.
The arbor over the Magician
is another house, one of the simplest kind. This house is conceptual, and
thus "portable," in a similar sense as the portable "body house" of
arbor is the succah, a temporary house built during the week-long
Feast of Tabernacles, to remind us of how fragile our security really is,
and to keep us in touch with the moon, stars, and wind. The flimsy walls
and roof of the sukkah are like the permeable membrane between our
consciousness and the Infinite, restoring our connection to the outside
world, it's danger, beauty, and comfort.
The roof of the sukkah is made of 'schach,' ideally cut palm or pine branches. Whatever is used must be of zero value. One must be able to see the stars through the holes in the roof.
One should spend as much time in the sukkah as possible. Especially pious people will endure cold and snow to fullfil the mitzvah. At each night's 'seuda' or holy meal, the 'Ushpizin' and 'Ushpizata' are welcomed. Each of these mystical guests are associated with one of the lower seven sefirot. The Ushpizin are Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph and David. The Ushpizata are associated with the seven prophetesses of Judaism: Sarah, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Abigail, Hulda, and Esther.
Sepher Yetzirah says
that "Bet" reigns in wisdom. Thoth, Hermes, and Hanuman are compared. This
path is called "Transparent Intelligence," resonating with Hod.
This "transparency" is also a reference to "transmission" from the spiritual
realm to the material, like a window pane, powerful and clear.
characterization of Bet/Mercury is that of a flowing, shifting, unstable
principle, always adapting and changing. This flightiness explains
the monkey who attends Thoth, and Hanuman, the monkey god. This "Tossing
of the mind" is called Vikshepa, discussed in Key
6, and Gemini, ruled by Mercury.
Mercury is the Quicksilver
Messenger; his winged helmet and sandals transmit thought with dispatch.
He is a sharp, sparkling, quick wit.
says: "I am he who carries his father's commands through the sky,
the son of Jupiter himself." Ovid
The number "one" refers to
concentration, attention, and focusing the field of activity.
- Key 1 is the first of the
first seven, commencing the powers or potencies.
Role of the son, ways in
which the son remains part of the father.
- This is also Norwegian Odin,
the eternal wanderer, who according to legend does not create the
world, but only plans and arranges it. Odin was also the inventor of poetry
and Norse runes.
The Magus holds his arms in
the "coagula/solve" position - meaning "coagulate (or join) - and "dissolve."
The "coagulation" is a drawing-in of energy. The "solve" is the use of the
energy to dissolve, or cut like a laser. This illustrates the maxim: "As
above, so below." Keys 0, 1, 3,
& 15 share this symbolism.
and the Etz Chayim
Coagula-Solve is a ritual gesture,
called in Sanskrit a 'mudra-' part of the Alchemical process, which is in
the realm of the Magus, Hermes/Mercurius. Connecting the upper and lower worlds,
the Magus uses the Tree of Life as a metaphorical alembic - a chamber
for containing and observing chemical reactions, and for isolating compounds.
Alchemy could be called 'proto-chemistry' - it was in fact the chemistry
of the Middle Ages. The word itself is of Arabic origin - like al'jibra
(algebra), or al'kahal (alcohol), or al'gorism (algorhythm) - all discoveries
made in the Moorish/Islamic enlightenment of Spain between 760 and 1200
The process follows a simple formula. The Magus begins with the massa
confusa - the base substance, the crude ingredients. They are placed
in the alembic - the vas hermeticus - a sealed container. Heat is
applied to the container and a series of operations are conducted on the
substance to change its nature and transform it into something more precious
- perhaps gold. The operations can include condensation, distillation, "repetitio,"
"mortificatio," and the "marriage of the king and queen."
The massa confusa is equated with the rejected cornerstone of the biblical
tradition. The god, or golden child, created in the end is equated with
the birth of the soul.
The figure-eight over the head of
the Magus is like the right and left brain, here in balance. We know now that
the right half of the brain controls visual memory, spatial judgement, and
verbal skills, and the left half controls logic, mathematical thought and
exacting dexterity. Left brain subjects focus on logical thinking, analysis
and accuracy. Right-brained subjects focus on aesthetics, feeling, and creativity.
- Eden Gray says the Magus
reaches up to take the hand of the Creator, and reaches down to take the
hand of Earthly beings, offering guidance and encouraging their evolution.
He unites Spirit and Matter in Eternity.
- The downward hand points,
particularizing, focusing, itemizing. There's the idea that the Magus
is Adam, the first man, who named all of the animals.
- Accurately naming things is
a fundamental part of the maturing process. When we can "put our
finger on something," we have more control. Ambiguous, uncomfortable
emotion is debilitating. Articulating (Mercury) our needs clearly gets
us better results in the world, and makes it easier to deal with our own
inner voices. Naming something is part of the process of creating personal
- Names range along a continuum
of certainty - when we say "the sun," or "food," everyone
understands. When we say "God," or "imagination,"
it's not so clear what is meant. Some words are metaphors,
our only tools for describing the eternal or abstract - boundaries between
Chochma and Binah, where undifferentiated wisdom becomes clearly articulated.
Words that give us control, and words that verbalize our lack of
control are all in the realm of the Magus.
- Once depicted as the Juggler,
the Magus also shows the artifical thought-bubble of our Human consciousness
- an ability to suspend a variety of concepts simultaneously in our mind's
eye (the table) - infusing mind and matter to create new things
and ideas under the sun. Juggling also requires concentration, another
association to this card.
- On the table are a cup, a
rod, a sword, and a disk, representing the four magical principles - To
Know, To Will, To Dare, and to Be Silent. They also represent Water, Fire,
Air, and Earth, or Will, Imagination, Action, and Physical Embodiment.
- The disc appears only
in Key 1. The pentagram, the star with five points, extrapolates our
concept of "5" into geometry. FIVE is so basic to us, because of our
five fingered hands.
- Swords appear in Keys
1, 10, and 11.
- Cups appear in Key 1
and Key 14.
- Herme's rod is used to
induce or ward off slumber, and it's identical double ends show the
two ways of using power - for good or for evil. Rods (or wands) appear
in Key 0, Key 1,
Key 7, Key 9, and
The Caduceus wand mirrors archetypal DNA/Kundalini.
The Caduceus image comes
from this mystifying Biblical passage: "Moses made a serpent of
copper and placed it on the pole; so it was that if the serpent bit
a man, he would stare at the copper serpent and live."
[Num 21:9] This suggests the idea of the disease and the cure
being the same thing; that snake venom is used to make snakebite antidote
is only one of many examples from modern science.
Magus is Mercurius of alchemy,
the chameleon of elements.
- An infinity symbol hovers
over his head, as in Key 8, Strength.
In Key 21, The World, the same symbol
takes the form of ribbons. The horizontal figure eight is ascribed to
Hermes/Mercury, and shows dominion and mastery of the level plane - the
Julian Jaynes says that before
the Greeks, human brains were not yet unified, and that God-concepts arose
from our hearing one half of the brain as a voice from outside. The Brain
was still learning about language and the ordered thought it engenders.
When "consciousness," as we know it, developed, the voices in our heads
became unified, and we became our own masters.
The left side of the brain controls
the right side of the body, and the right side of the brain controls the
left side of the body. This interplay is reflected in the infinity symbol
nimbus over Key 1's head, as the two sides do their dance.
The "8" is a sine-wave, or a
mobius strip. It represents rhythm, involution/evolution, the double helix
of DNA, the cyclic nature of the universe. It is related to the Yin-Yang
glyph, and the Tipharet Helix.
- The Magus draws power from
above, acknowledging that we are only channels or transmitters for the
life force that comes from the infinite. We are allowed its use for a
slice of eternity.
- The white cloth binding his
black hair shows the limitation of ignorance by knowledge. The red roses
show desire channeled into art by way of intelligence - the garden is
the subconscious mind cultivated by acts of attention and the conscious
mind. The roses are the desire that shapes all self-conscious activity.
The white lilies represent thought undistracted by desire.
- The Table is the "Field of
Attention." The concept of "table" carries deep symbolism. One "tabulates"
data, and a chart or map is a table. We eat at a table, and eating is
one of our most primary activities.
your table as a table before the Lord: Chew well, and hurry not."
- The Talmud says: "Lengthen
your table and lengthen your life." One way to interpret this is
"Eating slowly is healthy," which most nutritionists agree is
true. Another idea comes from the fact that when you have guests for dinner,
you have to put leaves in the table (lengthen it) so everyone will have
a place to sit. Having guests for dinner is also a healthy and life-lengthening
thing to do.
- The objects on the table,
aside from their individual significance, represent tangible creations
- ideas that have taken physical form - "thoughts" that can
be picked up and weighed in the hand. These are the "marks"
that are referred to in the saying "making your mark."
- His white undergarment symbolizes
wisdom, and his belt, a serpent with it's tail in it's mouth, represents
eternity. Dr. Waite says "Here it indicates more especially the eternity
of attainment in the spirit."
- The red cloak shows activity
and passion, and is worn without a belt, showing that its Martian (red)
nature is a choice. The Magus chooses when to take action and when
to abstain from action, depending on circumstances.
- This key shows human will
in union with the Divine, achieving the knowledge and power to bring desired
things into manifestation through conscious self-awareness.----
concentration is perfect transparency, in which personality becomes
a free, unobstructed channel for the passage downward and outward of
the superconscious radiant energy."
P. F. Case
- Another tradition holds that
the Magus represents the showman, actor, market trader, and trickster.
He is therefore the polar complement of the Fool,
Key O. Magus is also a traveler, carrying the ambience of another
world with him, teasing our curiosity, testing our wit.
- Magus is the Director in
the Quest for Self. He is at once the potential of all opposites and the
means for their reconciliation.
- This is the Animus, the archetypal
male human, again, Adam. He loves to expound on things, he is wordy, and
doesn't like to admit error. AND, he can change his mind at the drop of
a hat. For a woman, the Magus is the Men in her life. For a man, The High
Priestess, Key 2, is the Women in his life. All other archetypes can
be said to descend from these two.
- The Animus is concealed by
the Persona, or mask.
It is a general principle in Jungian thought that inner and outer personalites
are complementary: a methodical and scientific Persona usually suggests
an emotional and irrational inner being.
- This card, connecting Binah
and Keter, taps into the infinite cosmic force. It reminds us that the
goal is not to depart from manifestation, but to forge an effective
and enlightened oneness with the physical world. This is the Bodhisattva,
who forgoes complete release into enlightenment, to stay in this world,
assisting all creatures in their path to the light.
- Some say the Magus has successfully
accomplished the union of opposites, with the four elements at his disposal.
Others say he is an eternal gambler, relying on luck to achieve his ends.
Mercury's placement at birth
sets the character for the person's mental style. It shapes the way our
minds work; it is the connection between the spirit (Sun) and the personality
Mercury infuences communication.
Afflictions to Mercury commonly create misunderstandings, or mental phenomena
like dislexia, speech impediments, or stuttering. Strong Mercury aspects
give the native brilliance in speech, wit, writing or music. Mercury is
dexterity, as best shown in Virgo; but undoubtedly many a jeweler, juggler,
or surgeon has good Mercury placement. Mercury moves quickly, completing
it's orbit around the Sun in 88 days. As one of the 'personal' planets,
it's constant changing reflects interpersonal dynamics we see around us,
and short term mood swings in ourselves and others.
Mercury retrograde causes misunderstandings,
false starts, lost keys, and missed opportunities.
Mercury is Exalted in Aquarius,
and Rules Gemini/Virgo.
Mercury's detriment is Sagittarius,
and its fall is Pisces.
The Sepher associated with Mercury