As the second card, the Magician is the first person The Fool meets on their journey: a confident figure who may even have, in some way, become the sort of person the Fool hopes to be. They are at the very least a guide, if not a complete mentor. They have learned how to use their willpower in perfect conjunction with the resources around them to achieve their goals.
In addition, this card is of particular note for writers of fantasy, as another of The Magician’s talents is the ability to connect the unseen with reality.
Common Symbols: A wand, roses, an open book, the four elements (Earth/Air/Water/Fire), the connection of earth and sky, and the lemniscate (infinity symbol), the planet Mercury.
Examples in Plot: The main character sets out on their journey and assists a traveler on the road … who ends up giving them a piece of wisdom or some necessary tool as thanks. Or perhaps they are brought to an authority figure who points them in the right direction toward their goal.
Character Archetypes: The Mentor, The Master, The Messenger.
Upside-Down: Overconfidence, lack of resources, a person with their head in the clouds.
For the character: How hard is your character willing to fight to get what they want? Are they actually able to fight as hard as they want to? Or is something affecting their willpower?
For the author: Sometimes, writing is simply about sitting down and making the words come out, whether they’re good or not. Some days, it’s far harder than others. This is your sign to put your pen to the page and knuckle down!
For the character: What does your character need to be paying attention to, right now? Or, should they be focusing on something else so that they miss something important that will cost them, later?
For the author: Make certain your scene is focusing on the right event or character. It may be tempting to show your reader how things look from someone else’s point of view, but if the main character is there for a reason, shouldn’t they be holding the camera, so to speak?
Order In Chaos:
For the character: What does your character do to settle themselves when life gets crazy? Maybe there’s a clue they can find which will help them make sense of what’s happening in the scene. Or perhaps there’s another character who is able to help them calm down.
For the author: Okay, if you’re a plotter, this one’s easy: go to your outline! Give it a good look… see if something might need to be rearranged. If you’re the opposite, what some call a “pantser”… maybe this is your sign to try outlining, even if it’s just for this one scene. Sometimes putting your questions on paper is all it takes to make the answers start to come to you.
For the character: They’ve got to have something to prove, right? How do they need to prove it? Break it down … either it’s one small thing for the scene, or something that arcs through the entire plot. For example: In a scene. Buster Heywood can prove he knows his neighborhood is safe to walk in, but for the plot, he must stand up for himself no matter where he is.
For the author: Make a formal commitment to your writing, to yourself, if you haven’t already. Put it in a notebook, pin it to the wall, do whatever you like with it … but before anyone else can call you an author, you have to do it, yourself. There’s more power in it than you might realize.
Mastery of Resources:
For the character: Is there a skill the character knows that would come in handy in this scene? Or maybe they don’t have everything they meant to bring? Maybe the Magician is a sign that your character needs to consider the tools they have at hand, and see if any are missing or not good enough.
For the author: Stuck on a scene? Time for research! Or, if you’ve already researched and you’re stumped, try reaching out to someone else who might have the information you need.
Power or Energy:
For the character: What makes your character feel powerful or energized? Give them a taste: approval from a colleague, their favorite kind of pie, a morning jog, the satisfaction of finishing a crossword in ink...
For the author: I’ve a feeling I should slip a joke about caffeine or the writing snack of your choice, here … but really, this card may be asking you to take stock of your energy. How do you feel, right now? Are you refreshed? Tired? Maybe you need to sit with yourself a moment and give yourself a pep talk. Give yourself permission to be tired: the words will come out, anyway, and you can plump them up a bit more when you’re feeling rested.
For the character: Let something in this scene boost your main character’s confidence ... or give them an opportunity to let themselves shine. Or perhaps there’s a side character who’s been biding their time, and now it’s their chance to prove why they’re important to the story. No matter who gets the spotlight for this scene, they know they deserve it!
For the author: Every author reaches a point in their process where they are convinced that what they are working on is The Worst Thing In The World, and that no one will ever want to read it. Consider the Magician your cheerleader, and a sign to have confidence in yourself and in your work.
Making The Unseen Real:
For the character: Is there something in this scene that the reader should see that you aren’t showing? Or, maybe, there’s an influence to the plot which needs to be revealed. Those of you writing fantasy... maybe this scene needs a little magic, or maybe it’s at work in some subtle way that your reader will see, but your character may not, just yet.
For the author: This is what we do, isn’t it? You and I: we are the Magicians of our stories. We have power beyond even our comprehension, from the character’s point of view. We can give them everything they need, or take it away. Take a moment and bask in that fact...
Despite his short stature, Janus radiates confidence. He has enough experience with magic and with the people and places it affects to know just which people need his help … or need to help others. He waits patiently for those willing to sign their name to his roster, keeping the rest of his knowledge close at hand for when it is needed, and not a moment sooner.