Magus - Aleph
The name of the first character of the ancient alphabet is linked to the first hieroglyphic symbol of the Tarot.
The original design of this character (pre-1200 B.C.E.) looks like this...
The letter A is represented in the ancient alphabet by the word אלף, which is formed from a triliteral stem that is composed of the letters א, ל, and פ and has the basic meaning of “to know” or "to be accustomed." From this basic meaning, the more commonly known meaning of “ox” was derived from the sense of domestication (a creature that is accustomed to human presence).
The basic nature of the essence represented by this Tarot icon is that of the creative expression of knowledge itself and the ability to use this knowledge in both practical and imaginative ways. Thus, the imagination is specifically tasked to have fun with the many spells and enchantments that allow for the intellect to develop and improve. The intellect is also responsible for locating different types of qualifying filters that allow more critical bits of information to be stored and subsequently converted into practical knowledge; it also discards those things that can be classified as detailed minutia. This type of processing is critical because it allows the mental facilities to develop in a far more unhindered way once the chains of irrelevant data no longer burden one's cognitive processes.
Thus, we have the playful Magus devising new tricks to employ knowledge in a practical way. We also have the magician's assistant only handing the benevolent wizard the correct tools necessary for the employment of such a task. The tools that are either broken or irrelevant are conveniently whisked away and do not clutter the table in front of the thaumaturge. Also, all of the supposed stage props, grimoires, and top hats used by false magi are also instantly seen for what they are and are immediately discarded.
Because of the superior nature of the benevolent magus, he has no emotional need to evangelize and preach his cause to those around him. The role of motherly guidance and instruction is rightfully left to the high priestess of the second Tarot hieroglyph. Therefore, the man of science and art that is depicted on the Magus trump would therefore exemplify the virtues of the noble and demonstrate the happiness that is naturally inherent in a lifestyle that practices moderation over excess in order to produce healthy and lasting long-term benefits. This most elegant and graceful individual would be able to prove his thesis of virtue merely by example alone. All that were ready to accept his higher realms of reality would intuitively know this and would observe closely with reverence and dignity while those who were too emotionally immature to accept the rationale of his higher virtues would simply not be aware.
Marseilles Version of the Magus Hieroglyph
The Magus trump as depicted by the Marseilles tarot does not undergo much substantial change, as can be seen in the four images above, which depict a chronological progression of the most popular and influential versions of the Magus of the Marseilles Tarot. They are (in chronological order from left to right) the Noblet, the Dodal, the Conver, and a modern 20th century version of the Magus trump of the Marseilles deck. Most observations of this hieroglyph have suggested that the objects on the table of the Magus are the four symbols of the elements of the Minor Arcana (pentacles, cups, swords, and wands). However, there are other objects that appear on the table in addition to the four elemental symbols. The central figure is clearly holding the wand of fire in his left hand and a coin of earth in his right hand, and there are three cups and two knives on the table. The Noblet version shows some slight differences from the later versions.
The Noblet version shows what appears to be a pen (or pencil) and paper on the far right side of the table as one faces toward the Magus. In the later versions, the writing utensil has been rendered to appear more like a knife. The Noblet version also shows three cubes on the table as well. These cubes could be possibly be dice or something else. So instead of merely the symbolic objects of the elements, there are also symbols of education and learning that reinforce the thesis that states that the Magus trump is symbolic of the ability to employ knowledge.
Rider-Waite Version of the Magus Trump
There are a substantial number of changes to the Magus trump of the Marseilles Tarot that are found in the Rider-Waite version. A. E. Waite describes the Magus hieroglyph in the accompanying text of his deck where he states, “A youthful figure in the robe of a magician, having the countenance of divine Apollo, with smile of confidence and shining eyes. Above his head is the mysterious sign of the Holy Spirit, the sign of life, like an endless cord, forming the figure 8 in a horizontal position. About his waist is a serpent-cincture, the serpent appearing to devour its own tail. This is familiar to most as a conventional symbol of eternity, but here it indicates more especially the eternity of attainment in the spirit. In the Magician's right hand is a wand raised towards heaven, while the left hand is pointing to the earth. This dual sign is known in very high grades of the Instituted Mysteries; it shews the descent of grace, virtue and light, drawn from things above and derived to things below. The suggestion throughout is therefore the possession and communication of the Powers and Gifts of the Spirit. On the table in front of the Magician are the symbols of the four Tarot suits, signifying the elements of natural life, which lie like counters before the adept, and he adapts them as he wills. Beneath are roses and lilies, the flos campi and lilium convallium, changed into garden flowers, to shew the culture of aspiration. This card signifies the divine motive in man, reflecting God, the will in the liberation of its union with that which is above. It is also the unity of individual being on all planes, and in a very high sense it is thought, in the fixation thereof. With further reference to what I have called the sign of life and its connexion with the number 8, it may be remembered that Christian Gnosticism speaks of rebirth in Christ as a change 'unto the Ogdoad.' The mystic number is termed Jerusalem above, the Land flowing with Milk and Honey, the Holy Spirit and the Land of the Lord. According to Martinism, 8 is the number of Christ.”
The most noticeable features that have been added to the Rider-Waite version are the roses and lilies that adorn the upper and lower part of the image. The wand is now present in the right hand; on the table, there are the four symbols of the elements. While the hat of the Marseilles Magus resembles the symbol of infinity, the Magus of the Rider-Waite version has no hat, but instead has the actual sign of infinity over his head. This overall change of complexion seems to imply more of an aggressive, masculine approach to wielding magical currents.
The Progression of the Energy Currents of the Magus
The Magus as the Target of Ascension from the Popess Trump
The book of instruction in the lap of the popess has become the wand of the Magus. The maternal need to teach has now been transformed into the ability to employ knowledge in creative and practical ways. The various implements on the table represent a further extension of the concept that asserts that the intellect has the ability to improve upon basic design templates and usable structures. The magus also represents the natural urge of the playful intellect to imagine new ideas for new things and new ideas for old things as well.
Since there is no higher trump for the Magus to progress, The Magus can be seen as a sort of pinnacle of sorts. The foundational essence of the Magus is the pinnacle of ascension for the right-handed energy currents. Beginning with the erotic currents of the letter Zain found in the root chakra, the right-handed masculine energy ascends up the spine and into the middle of the skull where the crown chakra resides. This type of progression would then lead one to draw the conclusion that the energies of the lower chakras provide the foundational substance that may be transformed into the higher elevations of the upper chakras of the intellect.
Thus, the highest degrees of human endeavor involve the intellectual ability to reason and use logic tools so that the creative genius that resides in everyone may be more active. Once these frequencies permeate the mind and soul to a greater degree, then the output of one's higher mental facilities becomes a thing of reality. This reality is the greatest beauty of all and gives an individual the great satisfaction.
The happiness that comes from using the intellect is the most enjoyable aspect of human existence.
Balancing with the Left-Handed Energies of the Devil Trump
The right-handed frequencies of the crown chakra that are expressed in the Magus trump are balanced with the empathic abilities expressed in the Devil trump. Thus, the energies of the goddess Astraea are fed by the currents of both hieroglyphs. The Magus provides the Justice trump with the powerful ability of logical thought and the valuable tool of creative insight. However, most importantly, the Magus energies provide Astraea with the ability to apply logic to the creations of the imagination so that pragmatic endeavor may be known. It is this practical employment of the mind that allows the goddess of the Golden Age to possess the great sword that she wields in her right hand of formidable might.
Thus, the great sword in the mighty right hand of the virgin goddess is the final culmination of the right-handed energies of the Tarot. With this sword, Virgo can now deliver justice to whatever situation that she deems fit. Justice is the force of the universe that always ensures that good will eventually prevail. Justice is the force of heroic goodness. Justice is the salvation of humanity.
Justice is peace.
* * *
* * * * *