Understanding the Magician Archetype

According to Carl Jung, the magician is the most powerful archetype; he is the bearer of knowledge both ancient and new. He promotes advancement in this world thanks to his ability to confront and embrace his shadow, therefore acquiring true wisdom; wisdom not based on theory only but experience. The Magician archetype is synonymous with cognition. In his fullest, the Magician is wise, thoughtful, reflective, healing, contemplative, and transformative.

If you don’t know what an archetype is, let me give you a quick explanation: it is a collection of patterns found within; thoughts, feelings, images, behaviors, DNA. There are many different archetypes within our psyche; however, one will usually be predominant; few hold such importance as the magician archetype.

The archetype of the magician is one of the most interesting figures in analytical psychology; however, the archetype is much older than that, for Carl Jung based this archetype on the Alchemist–the seeker of truth and balance through the exploration of self and the primordial rules of life; seeking to discover within self, the philosopher’s stone–in other words, seeking to transcend.

The primary role of the magician is to commune with the powers within and without; to experience, contain, channel and transcend energies for the good of self and others–shadow work, philosophy, sacred arts, thought, science, transformation, inspiration, innovation. People with this archetype are people who change the world for the better; although at their time they are misunderstood, often challenged, belittle or called crazy because of their passion, perhaps even obsession with their archetype and with life and its mysteries.

Despite what most believe, without them we would be stuck in the dark ages–as such we can find people like Vincent van Gogh, Mozart, Beethoven, Leonardo da Vinci, Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi, Nikola Tesla, Virginia Woolf, Ayn Rand to name but a few representatives for the archetype of the Magician. One needs but to learn about the lives of those just mentioned, to realize just how misunderstood these people were; often called crazy, misfits, troublemakers–people who at their time, their accomplishments or philosophies were not given the credit they deserved.

It is curious how in relation to other archetypes, the magician– the one capable of dancing with darkness– is the hero and it always stands out, yet it is always the one most want to destroy or seek to hurt. We admire heroes because they are the ones willing to show themselves as they are, they are the ones willing to stand up when others seek to hide, they are the ones that seek truth and rawness over complicity and congeniality, yet they are also the ones who are the most mistreated. They are the first to be offered as the sacrificial lamb and the last to be recognized by the majority of people; people who often have trouble understanding people different than the “norm”

According to Carl Jung, magicians are actually the most remarkable personalities on the scale of archetypes. They are associated with the intellect but not in a limited sense–he was referring to the connection between the left and right hemispheres of the brain. While within most people one of the hemispheres is predominant, for the magician, both are quite active; hence the magician is dynamic yet quiet, active, spiritual, and transformative. In other word, the magician does not fit within one box and his learnings are not limited to one discipline.

According to Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette, the magician possesses and innate secret knowledge (in other words he is in tune with life and life expresses its many facets through the magician) this gives the magician his power. He has knowledge of energy flows and patterns within nature, in human individuals, and societies and speaks to the Gods (sensitive to pure energy). He is not afraid of his unconscious where his demons and angels await, for he seeks to be the master of channeling power (discovering self sovereignty vs. willful slavery).

Jung negated the concept of “Tabula rasa” which is the idea that we are born free of any inclinations and are simply conditioned by our life experiences. Carl Jung challenged such idea; believing as ancients did, one is in some way predestined (not destined) by our archetype. This doesn’t mean one is not free to choose (destiny meets free will); what it does mean is that life’s energies cannot possibly be contained within one cookie cut version of expression. One needs to look no further than two people who are born at the same time, same life conditioning and experiences yet their interpretation of the world will not be the same nor their responses to exact events. To believe life has only one form of expression would be to deny the diversity life offers us each and every day.

The archetype of the magician is associated with Alchemy (pure science) and the Esoteric (pure knowledge) and they both are rooted within introspection–in other words the ability to succumb to the contemplation, learning, experience and wisdom hidden within our shadow. It is a reflective mind in constant learning and experiencing of life–the saying the teachings of a sinner are wiser than the naivete of a saint, certainly drives the point home. While other archetypes seek contemplation only, the magician seeks to learn and to experience in order to know vs superficial belief.

Although the magician is at top of the archetypes, he is the first one to know he doesn’t know everything, and seeks to learn more and more; his whole life is one big learning experience. That continuous learning and experiencing is what gives the magician his wisdom. He adapts the wisdom of his experiences shamelessly to his own perspective, so he may then transmit it to his environment in a more powerful, more transformative way yet without imposition.

Joseph Campbell called the magician “the mentor with supernatural aid”. Although often mocked, misunderstood and often abused, the magician plays the role of the ritual elder who blesses the younger generation (in other words he is an old soul experiencing life surrounded by younger souls) allowing them to mature into manhood by teaching them not to fear the darkness but to embrace it ; which is the function of the heroes’ journey. The magician does not seek to ran away from his own shadow by repeating niceties or abusing self, rather it seeks to integrate both aspects of the primordial energies found within our psyche as well as within life itself.

With the power to create worlds also comes its opposite: the ability to manipulate and destroy them. Therefore the most significant lessons we can learn about the Magician archetype comes from his ability to take a closer look at his shadow, for until we do the same, both individually and collectively, this shadow will continue to rule us from the darkness of our unconscious.

In neo-Jungian, like all the archetypes, the Magician has a bi-polar shadow with an active and passive side. Because of our bias toward thinking and the mind, the fast track to accessing the Magician archetype is through the body and the heart. Drawing excess energy from the mind to the heart and gut regions, allows us to integrate the Magician energy constructively without succumbing to its shadow but embracing it. By holding to our center, we naturally access the Magician’s energy. When we fall out of Center, the shadows take over–this occurs every time we move too fast and we cut ourselves off from our feelings or when we live in our minds only.

Although few people are born with the magician archetype as predominant, everyone can help awakened those characteristics within self, but it requires work, intuition and passion. To access the Magician archetype more often:

  1. Reforge your connection to your body and nature: ground yourself and breathe (meditation, yoga and breathing techniques can be very helpful)
  2. Realign your body’s energy system: find your center–there’s a center of quietness within, which has to be known and held. If you lose that center, you are in tension and begin to fall apart. The Center doesn’t have a specific location, yet there are physical regions associated it. It’s more of a dynamic point of psychic equilibrium or real inner balance–this means one hasn’t fallen victim to either extreme (false holiness or false rebellion). When you’re in the Center, there’s no resistance to express yourself as you are, raw beautiful you; despite what others may think.
  3. Reclaim your power that you were tricked into handing over to others: reclaiming your inner gold–this means, stop trying to fit in, to be like everyone else, to be average or “normal”. Even though our systems sadly support this horrible surgery of the soul, this systems are highly effective at stripping away our inner genius. Learn to be you, no matter what and seek to expand, to work on yourself. If you want real freedom vs superficial freedom, then you got to be willing to accept self responsibility, for with great power comes great responsibility. With being you and choosing self expansion, accepting yourself and choosing to embark on a path which honors your unique way of seeing the world, won’t be easy because others will always try to make you fit into a box. Good or bad, whatever happens in your life, it is your responsibility–it is okay to feel hurt, it okay to experience moments of pain; it is not okay to use that pain as a crutch not to keep going.
  4. Connect with your emotional body and listen to your emotions: cultivate self leadership instead of handing your power over to others in exchange for being relieved of your responsibility or not to do the work required to your own healing and expansion. More importantly choose to live your life in a way that honors the unique in you but always with self awareness.
  5. Create your own inner world: activate your imagination; real imagination is important to put knowledge in practice. Real imagination isn’t the make up of falsities but the ability to see past the veil presented to us. Also learn to dialogue with your inner archetypes or what others called your conscience. However, it is important to learn to differentiate your inner voices from the voice of false guilt or false shame imposed by dogma –false holiness, false morals (rigid attitudes which are only there to cage not to expand) or the voices which push you towards the raping of your body and soul; in other words false rebellion which leads to degradation of self. Your own archetypes will serve the best in you, despite of what others may think.
  6. Accept responsibility for your outer world.
  7. Be honest with yourself: We tend to lie to ourselves about how “good” or “bad” we are. If you want to learn to live by your own rules, knowing they are serving the best in you despite what others may think, the only way is to face, confront, embrace your shadow. Dance with your inner genius–the only way to do that is as some philosopher’s say “dance with your own madness, for in there your genius can be found”.

Although feared and misunderstood, the archetype of the magician has always sough to help, even at his own expense–for his life’s values lies in following life’s calling whether understood, accepted or not.

“I would rather be hated for you I am than be loved for whom I’m not”

**By Sofia Falcone


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