Tarot 101, My Way – Major Arcana: The Fool and The Magician

Now we dive into a card-by-card examination of the Major Arcana, which I’m taking two at a time since they are brief “thumbnail sketches” (supported by links to my previous posts). Since my approach to the tarot is esoteric in the main but with a practical slant, I’ve decided to begin each sub-section with commentary on the subject card, extracted from my three primary sources (Mathers’ Liber T, Waite’s Pictorial Key to the Tarot and Crowley’s Book of Thoth), that will be the most useful in mundane reading situations, leaving the more occult metaphysical elements aside to the extent that is possible when discussing archetypes. The visual references are to the cards of the Waite-Smith deck, which in the case of the Major Arcana are close enough to the traditional designs to serve as the umbrella for all three viewpoints. I end each presentation with my own observations and suggestions on the various ways the card can manifest in “real world” terms.

The Major Arcana: Trump 0 – The Fool


Golden Dawn “Liber T” (S.L. Mathers):

“Idea, thought, spirituality, that which endeavors to rise above the material.

Regarding a material event of ordinary life, this card is not good, and shows folly.”

The Pictorial Key to the Tarot (A.E. Waite):

“His countenance is full of intelligence and expectant dream. He is the spirit in search of experience.”

The Book of Thoth (Aleister Crowley):

“. . . the essential of this card is that it represents an original, subtle, sudden impulse or impact, coming from a completely strange quarter. All such impulses are right if rightly received; and the good or ill interpretation of this card depends entirely on the right attitude of the Querent.”


This card is generally interpreted as predicting a new beginning or fresh start, in which all preconceptions and past associations are cast aside in favor of setting out for a completely unknown destination. In the throes of this ecstasy of self-discovery, intelligence (shown by the small dog) takes a back seat to the Fool’s heedless adventurousness, and is relegated to leaping at his heels in warning. The Fool is carefree, traveling light and unencumbered by material possessions, but also careless in that he isn’t paying attention to where he’s putting his feet. The gist of this card is to trust one’s instincts and spiritual clarity of vision (“second sight”) to point the way safely along the cliff’s edge. It shows the need for absolute faith in one’s sense of balance and self-confidence in confronting an uncertain future. To falter at the very edge of enlightenment is to fall into error. In practical matters, however, it can imply naivety and foolhardy risk-taking; it doesn’t favor any kind of high-stakes gamble involving one’s livelihood, because critical details are likely to be overlooked in the rush to reinvent oneself. There can be an urge to act now and think later, letting the chips fall where they may. The Fool is an exemplar of the aphorism “It’s often easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.” (When you’re ready for deeper pondering, here is a link to the earlier post this paragraph was quoted from:  https://parsifalswheeldivination.com/2017/11/19/the-fool-abides/)

The Major Arcana: Trump 1 – The Magician


Golden Dawn “Liber T” (S.L. Mathers):

“Skill, wisdom, adaptation. Craft, cunning, etc., always depending on its dignity.”

The Pictorial Key to the Tarot (A.E. Waite):

“. . . the descent of grace, virtue and light, drawn from things above and derived to things below. Skill, diplomacy, subtlety, self-confidence, will.”

The Book of Thoth (Aleister Crowley):

“Skill, wisdom, adroitness, elasticity, craft, cunning, deceit. Sometimes a quick impulse, ‘a brain-wave.’ It may imply messages, business transaction, the interference of learning or intelligence with the matter in hand.”


In practical terms, this card often represents the desire for new creative experiences, accompanied by the skills and talents that can be successfully brought to bear in their pursuit, and the willpower to see things through; thus, the ability to turn ideas into reality through the application of innovative methods. He channels inspiration from “above” via the wand in his right hand and directs it with his left hand into the “below” of concrete manifestation. Focus, concentration, motivation, goal-orientation, organization, coordination, communication and a willingness to take risks are all present in abundance, making it a good portent for the success of any initiative or enterprise. Discrimination between various points of view is part of the process of self-realization implied by this card. Subtlety and artfulness are also suggested, such that it can be difficult to tell whether truth or falsehood holds the upper hand, and whether the Magician will pursue his ends by “fair means or foul.” The medieval image of this personage shows a sleight-of-hand “juggler” or trickster, conveying the notion that this is not someone to be trusted unconditionally. (To view the original post this paragraph was extracted from, click on this link:  https://parsifalswheeldivination.com/2017/11/20/jiggery-pokery/)

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