The Magician (work in progress)



A comparison of The Magician from the popular Rider-Waite tarot deck with the Darkness of Light tarot deck (work in progress).

While a variety of tarot deck artwork was studied (Thoth, Tarot of Marseilles, Rider-Waite, among others), I chose to leave The Magician relatively unchanged from its original symbolism, which according to Biddy Tarot (using the Rider-Waite as an example) explains that "The Magician is the bridge between the world of the spirit and the world of humanity. His right hand holds a staff raised toward the sky, and his left hand points to the earth. He takes the power of the Universe and channels it through his own body and directs it to the physical plane. Above The Magician's head is the symbol of eternity. His magical table holds all four suits of the Tarot, each of which represents one of the four primordial elements of the alchemists: earth, air, fire and water. These symbolize the appropriate use of mind, heart, body and soul in the process of manifestation. The Magician's robe is white, symbolizing the purity and innocence found in The Fool, but his cloak is red, representing worldly experience and knowledge. In the bed of flowers at his feet this duality is repeated in the mix of pure white lilies and thorny red roses."

In the Darkness of Light version, the inner robe was changed to black, while the outer robe becomes white. This is to represent the duality between a variety of opposing forces in human nature: good and evil, innocence and lack of innocence, and to underscore the dichotomy between the human world and the spirit world as distinctly different planes of existence.

A similar philosophy was applied to the background where water was used instead of flowers. Water often represents change or transition, underscoring The Magician's role as the bridge between worlds. Additionally, its said spirits gather energy or are attracted to water, which I believe helps push the main concept and therefore the larger role of The Magician within the deck itself. Also, while the Magician is designed to "channel power from the universe and direct it towards the physical plane," a backdrop of water provided a more powerful aesthetic for conveying this idea.

Finally, I opted to paint The Magician's magical table as a form found in nature, in this case a rock, as I believed it more closely resembled the "purity" The Magician is supposed to convey, and created a bold contrast between the physical manifestations of the suits of the Tarot, and their natural symbolism.