The Magus and the Priestess

There are two paths to power, the masculine and the feminine, and the absolute of these two paths are represented by the Magus and the Priestess. The Chariot and Strength represent their respective powers in action.

The power of the Magus lies in altering the rest of the universe to conform to his will. Their is a duality in the Magus’ perspective of the universe since there is him and there is everything else (in this way he differs from the Fool who exists as a singularity; he is everything). The magus decides what he wants, and then he exerts his will to change the universe to change it. He is masculine. He forces his will onto the universe.

His power in action is represented by the chariot, where a figure has bound two animals together in order to carry him. In some instances these animals are the sphinx, which was defeated by Oedipus when he discovered the sphinx’s secret. This implies that the secret to the Magi’s power lies in acquiring secret information. In some instances the Magus is not being carried across land, but rather through the clouds, implying a spiritual rather than physical power. In any case, the important fact about the chariot is that the Magus has used his power to bind these creatures so that his will can be forced into the universe.

The converse of this power is the feminine power represented by the Priestess. The Priestess is entirely receptive. In her absolute state she allows the entirety of the universe to pass through her. She becomes one with the universe and aligns herself with its will.

Her power in action is represented by the strength card. Here we have a woman holding open or shut the jaws of a lion. The card itself corresponds to Leo. The constellation of Leo is in reference to the indestructible lion killed by Hercules, which is the lion represented in the card. And here we a woman who does not appear to be physically strong and yet she is able to hold open the mouth of this super-lion.

The woman can do this because her will is aligned with the lion’s. The lion wishes for her to hold open his mouth, and so she is able to hold open the lion’s mouth, and is aided in opening the lion’s mouth by the lion’s own jaw muscles.

In the same way neither the lion nor the woman need to be bound here. Both have the same wants, and both are working towards the same goals.

In a lot of ways the differences come down to swimming against the current and swimming with it. The Magus makes himself very powerful so that he can exert large amounts of energy to bring about change in the universe. Meanwhile the Priestess moves with the universe, she aligns herself with its will, and she works within the directions that the universe takes her, and consequently she is able to bring about changing by exerting very little power because the universe is doing most, if not all, of the work.

8 Responses to The Magus and the Priestess

  1. Rob, can I ask you – what is the significance if my soul card is the Magus?

  2. Rob says:

    Why do you think your soul card is the Magus?

  3. Well, in my very limited understanding of the Tarot, what you do is that you add up the digits in your date of birth in a certain way, and you end up with a set of numbers which represent your soul card; your personality card and your shadow card.

    No. 1 would be my soul card number, that means the Magus, right. Apart from that, I kinda look at the card … and I … *like* …. it … Sorta like, identify with it, but can’t explain why.

  4. Rob says:

    Ah. I’ve seen similar systems that deal with astrology going back several hundred years. I think I may have seen something like this dealing with the tarot before too, although I can’t remember where.

    Anyways the tarot is a very complicated system that branches off into several other very complicated systems and demands actual experience before some things can be understood. It typically takes years of working with the tarot before a person can do worthwhile readings, and it usually takes years more to learn some of its secrets. Not to mention all the fun to be had with collecting decks and learning about the history. It’s a hobby that can last a lifetime.

    Astrology meanwhile deals with lots and lots of math and it still requires many of the same interpetative skills used to do a tarot reading, but at the same time is different enough that even if you’ve already learned the tarot, you’d have to start over from almost the begining. Once again, years of study before you can see real results.

    But people with a much more passing interest have always been fascinated with divination, and cartomancy in particular has been a pass time of housewives since about the time playing cards were invented.

    The end result are these systems, like the one you describe, that deal with simple math involving a person’s birthdate and name and try to develop some sort of divantory system from it. It’s a poor man’s divination system. In a lot of ways Sun sign astrology is just an extension of this. Ultimatly though there’s no real basis for these systems, they don’t do much, and they’re far too simple to have any real value.

    These may be somewhat validated by Gemetria, but this is intimately connected to the Hebrew and Greek languages. Granted there are some other later forms, but none with a major following that use English.

    In other words, I don’t the fact that the Magus came up as your soul card means anything in particular.

    As for you being drawn to the card itself, which Magus card? The tarot itself is a medium and a lot like a book. It does have several specific limitations and advantages though, and a fairly tight structure. However, like a book, almost anything can be written on its pages. It can be something worthless like a grocery list, a work of art like Shakespeare, or a major spiritual work like the Sepher Yetzirah.

    Even if the card does follow the standard attributions of the occult tarot more or less, one authors interpetation of a particular card can be very different from anothers.

    In any case, every tarot card has infinite meaning, although those meanings are set within a limitation. Think of it as being all the numbers between 1 and 2. There are infinite numbers that exist between those two, like 1.2, 1.56, 1.9884390, ect. although not all numbers fit into that criteria, e.g. 54. Likewise a greater understanding of any tarot card can be gained by looking at it with a second card. You’ll understand the Magus better by also understanding the Fool and looking at those two together, and by understanding the Tower and looking at those two together, and by understanding the three of cups and looking at those two together.

    What I’m getting at is that the true meaning of the Magus card is huge. You can write several hundred books on just that card and still not manage to cover a significant number of its meanings. Ultimatly tarot isn’t something that can be read about in a book or a blog or learned through rote memorization. Outside views are good to get an idea of what others think and to get an idea of things you may not have realized before, but to understand a tarot card you have to understand the tarot card.

  5. I was thinking of the Magus in Crowley’s deck, the golden shining figure.

    You wrote about the Magus being able to alter the universe through his will. This is one of the elements of the Magus that I can really identify with. If you take a quick look at my blog, you’ll see what mean. I am constantly setting goals for myself, in different areas of my life – quite big goals which other people think are unrealistic and fanciful – yet I am quite confident that all are achievable (and I often do make them happen).

    Not merely because of my own ability. But also because at the right times, events and circumstances will conspire to give me the good luck & opportunities I would need to achieve those goals.

    Oh, I was already like that ……. before I ever heard of the Tarot. But in Tarot terminology, one could say that I, a magus, am just constantly bending the universe to my will, and making things happen.

  6. Rob says:

    To some extent we’re all able to alter the universe via our will. We have free will, we live in a cause and effect universe, and results are predictable to some degree by most. There are things contained in every tarot card which each of us can connect with to some degree, especially since they reveal certain truths about the make-up and reality of this universe.

    The title of Magus extends to much more than setting goals and achieving them however. A Magus is able to bind the universe to his will, to move it as he wishes, typically through what would be considered supernatural means. The difference between a true Magus and true psychic is that a psychic simply has some power and ability which wildly manifests and they’re able to utilize. A Magus has control over his power and a given situation however, and a Magus is able to fully understand and manipulate his powers as necessary.

    The goal of a Magus is to follow their personal spiritual path seeking the truth about themselves, their growth, and their place in the universe. There are of course other things to be sought along the path too. And not all of us will seek the same things. But in doing this it becomes necessary for the Magus to aquire both power and knowledge, however these are not the ends which the Magus seeks, but the tools he utilizes to achieve his goals.

    One of the first things a Magus needs to do is conquer themselves, which is why so many occult books read like self-help books. A magus needs to be psychologically well and balanced. They need to be physically and mentally fit. And they need to be able to honestly look at themselves, see the truth of what they are, and work towards improving upon their weaknesses. This isn’t an end goal, but rather the first step that acts as a spring-board to greater things.

    And as the Magus gains control of themselves, and they become knowledgeable and more aware of themsleves, they’ll become more knowledgeable of the universe in general, and have more power over the external universe. And as their external power and knowledgebase grows it will eventually turn back in on themselves, and they’ll gain greater control of the self, and have a better understanding of themselves. And this cycle will continue on as long as they continue to allow themselves to grow. This is what is meant by the idea of the microcosmos and the macrocosmos, and one of the interpetations of the Hermatic axiom.

    Too many out there claim the title of Magus and yet they show no control over themselves. Many have major psychological issues. Many do not have the discipline to train their bodies or minds. Typically they won’t get far attempting to utilize magick. Those that stick with it though may get somewhere, but it will ultimatly lead to their destruction. Magick will ultimatly turn on you and exploit even the smallest psychological defect if it exists. It will also lead you to things which will prey upon whatever weakness you have. Complete conquest of self is essential not only to further ones path, but also as a matter of survival.

    As I brought up earlier, Oedupus was a Magus, probably considered one of the greatest and weakest Magi that ever existed. His mythology as it exists now is rather dumbed down and made mudane, but an initiate can see some of what lies beneath the surface and the lessons the story was originally meant to teach.

    When Oedupus faced off against the Sphinx he didn’t solve some small riddle to defeat it. He knew some great secret, and the nature of that secret is somewhat implied in the answer to the riddle, man. Oedupus knew where the power laid, and because of that he was able to bind the will of the Sphinx and force it to destroy itself. Ultimatly Oedupus had destroyed a diety while remaining mortal (in contrast when Perseus slayed Medusa and thwarted Posiden he had achieved divinity himself). Oedupus’ power was great.

    However this power ultimatly turned inward on him, and he found the truth of himself. He could see himself for what he truly was, not a great king and hero, but one who had committed patracide, who had engaged in an incestual relationship with Jocasta after murdering her husband, and one whose children were an ambomination within society and a constant reminder of his disgrace. He guaged out his eyes not as a matter of repentence, but in a vain and desprate attempt to undo what he had done to himself. He no longer wanted to be able to see, he wanted his knowledge to disappear and his ignorrance to return. But that’s impossible, and once certain doors are opened on a practitioners path, they can never be closed and a person is left only with the option to deal with what has been released.

  7. Wow, very interesting. But way too advanced for me. My idea of a “Soul Card” is that everybody has one (based on their date of birth) and mine happens to be the Magus … Not that I actually practise magick or anything. But I do find your blog very interesting … in fact the most interesting website on this kind of stuff, that I’ve ever come across.

  8. Rob says:

    Thanks for the compliment.

    I’m somewhat surprised that there aren’t more websites like mine out there. The internet seems to me like an ideal method for the community to communicate. It can be free, it’s easy to remain anonymous, we don’t have to worry about meeting someone else’s criteria or offending someone, and we don’t have to worry about censorship.

    I already know that message boards and open discussion groups will not work. But blogs and websites could be very effective at getting information out there. As for teaching, it typically, but not always, requires physical closeness. But for just a transmission of ideas between practitioners words do find, and typically only an idea needs to be stated in order for a second to be able to figure out how to make it work.

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