The Magician and “Imposter Syndrome”

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Sometimes the Magician gets a well-deserved “rap on the knuckles.”

In all his sly cleverness, the Magician can come across as insincere; there may be disarming assurances of proficiency or protestations of virtue where no such qualities exist. I’m reminded of the “Imposter Syndrome” in which we find ourselves in an uncomfortable position where we feel like pretenders who aren’t up to the task we’ve accepted even though others don’t see it immediately. When I first got the job that led to my long, successful career, my mother remarked unkindly “You talked your way into it!” (She clearly thought I was a poser.) Interestingly, after I had been in more advanced positions for a few years, one co-worker told me that I “reek of self-confidence.” I laughed off both of these misapprehensions (although I did a metaphorical “pit check” on the second one). The Magician never questions his knack for convincing all doubters of his legitimacy, even when he’s flying by the seat of his pants.

It was only when I began reading tarot cards in a face-to-face setting that I felt twinges of what might be called “Post-Tarot Stress Disorder;” the “woulda-shoulda-coulda” kind of angst that comes with realizing only after the sitter has gone out the door that important things were left unsaid because the art of on-the-fly interpretation is so chancy. The core knowledge for each card only provides broad hints about where to start, and the diagnostician must still find the pulse of the reading and come up with credible observations. This improvisational challenge can be daunting at best; at worst it can lead to the rueful acknowledgement that we missed the mark even if the querent doesn’t realize it (yet). The imagination can go into overdrive and we come up with a yarn that sounds impressive but may in fact be hollow at its heart. Here is the Magician in full plumage, tap-dancing around the boards for all he’s worth.

In our zeal to put a positive (or at least constructive) spin on every card, we sometimes gloss over the less flattering characteristics of the Magician. In the early decks he was considered something of a mountebank, a stage magician who would dupe the rustics out of their coin with his sleight-of-hand “magic.” Now we play up his skills, versatility and practical wisdom, only giving the slightest nod to his native duplicity. When the Magician enters someone’s life they need to guard their reputation and their purse. In a love situation he may be the “perfect imposter,” able to feign fidelity when he intends nothing of the sort. He could very well “whisper sweet nothings” in your ear and not mean a word of it. Mark this down to Mercury, the Trickster.

The esoteric Magician is another matter. His only occult role is to serve as a conduit from the “Above” to the “Below.” MacGregor Mathers termed it “. . . the descent of grace, virtue and light, drawn from things above and derived to things below.” I sometimes think of him as the “Hand of the Master.” The noble magus has no truck with the shyster of old, his sights are set on a higher purpose. However, my bet is that he would eagerly backslide if the opportunity presented itself and he was sure he wouldn’t get caught. The “New Age adept” presented in the modern rendition enters the picture mainly in psychological guise when reading for self-awareness and self-development. In a more “action-and-even-oriented” forecast I would be inclined to consider the potential for some kind of dishonesty. When he comes up as a “force to be reckoned with” in the situation, we might reasonably give him the benefit of the doubt (I see this card as one of the “neutral” trumps) but keep a very close eye on him; I’m reminded of the old Ronald Regan admonition about nuclear disarmament: “Trust but verify.”

Originally published at http://parsifalswheeldivination.wordpress.com on October 2, 2022.

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I’ve been involved in the esoteric arts since 1972, with a primary interest in tarot and astrology. See my previous work at www.parsifalswheeldivination.com.

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Parsifal the Scribe

Parsifal the Scribe

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I’ve been involved in the esoteric arts since 1972, with a primary interest in tarot and astrology. See my previous work at www.parsifalswheeldivination.com.