What does The Magician represent? Power. What kind of power? The power of limitless and infinite potential!!
Okay, it’s a little more complicated than that – I mean, we have a minor arcana card that means “power”. So what is The Magician? Well, think back to anyone who has blown you away by doing something amazing – maybe watching Bruce Lee do some kind of crazy martial arts move, or a (non-magical) magician who pulls a tiger out of thin air, or that guy who managed to fix your car with a toothpick. These people are Magicians to you. Why? Because you have no idea how they did that! You certainly could never do that. But in truth, they’re not the chosen one or anything – you have the potential to become them. The only thing stopping you is a lack of knowing how, and your constant thoughts that you could never do it. That’s the difference between you and the Magician: he has the Knowledge to change the world, and the Will to actually do so.
Knowledge here doesn’t just mean knowledge of physics or magic or the world in general, although the Magician has a lot of that as well. But note that the Magician has all of the tarot card suits before him – the sword of intellect, the spark/star of spiritual fire, the cup of emotions, and the coin of earthly matters. The Magician has command over all of these, and he uses them to enact his will. He’s incredibly resourceful, using everything in his power to achieve his desire. Note how many of those elements are internal. The Magician knows himself and he knows the world around him. He knows what he is capable of – and what he is capable of is… anything. So long as he has the determination, will, and resourcefulness, the Magician is capable of anything. This card is a reminder that you… yes, you… have that potential and power. Give a man a long enough lever and a place to rest it, and he can move the world. That’s the Magician.
Is there any downside to this card? Well, the Magician isn’t the most introspective person. He knows himself in that he knows his potential – but just because you can do something, doesn’t necessarily mean you should.
“Power tends to corrupt, absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Yeah, you can probably guess where this is going. This is the guy who uses magic to make his tea because it’s too much effort to do it the normal way. Knowing his potential has turned him into a self-serving prat, completely wrapped up in how utterly awesome he is. He’s selfish and has turned his will to selfish ends. Oh, he’s still very powerful, but his power has, ironically, weakened him. He’s become myopic and dependent upon the way he does things, ignoring the fact that his true strength comes from his resourcefulness and will. Take away the things he’s come to depend upon, and he’s helpless – he’s forgotten how to do things any other way.
Take this for an example – put two mages in front of a chasm with a single rope, and tell them to cross without casting a spell. The true Magician will make it across, but the inverse Magician can’t – he’s become too dependent on his ability to fly, and all his thoughts will be turned to what he could do if he wasn’t so limited, and not what he could do with what he has at hand.