The Magician Archetype
By Paul Murphy and Tim Drown

The magician archetype governs two primary areas of our lives. He is the diviner of knowledge and wisdom - the guardian of the intellect, and the master of technology (technology being the expression and advancement of intellect in the physical world). The man who moves in the fullest expression of the magician is a ritual elder who guides the process of transformation in his own life and in the lives of others. Such a man is a confident visionary who draws intuitively on the pool of knowledge held in the collective unconscious. He is the source of new and innovative concepts. His mystical and often unconscious connection with the invisible world of inspiration provides a birds-eye view of life, his society and the world. He works in a broader context than most and stands, almost prophetically, on the cutting edge of advancement. He is often thinking and functioning in a world of the future. Society at large,all too often,is not ready for his revolutionary perspectives.

The human magician has been initiated by life. He has been mentored into a deeper, almost mystical wisdom. One of his tasks is to initiate others. The magician is an initiate of secret knowledge of all kinds. Knowledge that takes special training to acquire is the province of the magician’s energy. This is a universal archetype that has operated in the masculine psyche throughout history. The seers, the prophets and shamans were all empowered by the magician. So too were the visionaries who changed the world – Martin Luther King, Albert Einstein, Leonardo Da Vinci and many others. The magician is equally accessible in its shadow form and we see both expressed by men today, in their work and in their personal lives.

The magician’s specialty is secret knowledge. He knows that which others do not. He knows, for instance, the movements of the stars, the phases of the moon, when to plant and when to harvest. He knows when the birds will arrive next spring, can predict the weather and he understands the hidden dynamics of the human psyche. He is one who can effectively bless and curse. He understands the link between the unseen worlds of the spirit and the physical worlds of humanity and nature.

It is to him that people go with their questions, their problems, their pains and diseases of the body and the mind. He is confessor and priest. He can think through the issues that are not obvious to other people. He is seer and prophet. This secret knowledge gives the magician incredible power. The most crucial initiation of the magician is the mastery power, lest it bring him undone.

Ours is an age of identity and personal chaos. Chaos is always a result of inadequate accessing of the magician. It is through the magician energy that we come to understand our lives with a degree of profundity that has become lost and uncommon in western society.

What does all this mean for us as men as we pursue our quest for happiness? As we seek to enhance the lives of our loved ones, our communities, our nation and the world? What function does the magician energy of the mature masculine perform in our daily lives?

The magician energy is the archetype of awareness and insight. This in itself is under-utilised by the average man. As we take awareness further, the magician opens our eyes to see beyond the immediate world into the mysteries that govern and support it. It is the archetype that gives us what is often called the “Observing Ego”. The Ego is vital to our survival. It is only when it is possessed by, identified with or inflated by another energy form that our ego drags us into shadow.

Its proper role is to stand back and observe, to monitor the data presenting itself from both outside and within. Then out of its wisdom, the observing ego under the magicians lead, makes the necessary life decisions. When the observing Ego is aligned with the masculine self, it is initiated into the secret wisdom of the Self. It is in one sense, a servant of the masculine self, but in another sense it is the leader and the channel of this self’s power. It is then a vital player of the personality as a whole.

The observing Ego is detached from the ordinary flow of daily events, feelings, and experiences. The magician archetype - in concert with this observing Ego - keeps us insulated from the overwhelming power of the other archetypes. It is the mathematician and engineer in each of us that regulates the life functions of the psyche as a whole.

The magician energy is present in the warrior archetype in the form of his clarity of thinking. Whenever we are faced with what seems an impossible decision, whenever we make decisions with careful and insightful deliberation, we are accessing the magician. The magician often comes on-line in a crisis. In difficult situations people are forced to dig deeper within themselves than they usually do, activating an aspects of the psyche other than superficial self that has been moulded by the physical world and lower ego.

The activation of this secret space is something that men who are guided by the magician know well. It is expressed in myth and modern story equally through the secret caves of Merlin and Batman – both classic examples of the magician archetype. The initiated magician will place himself into this space deliberately. When faced with difficulty in life or confronted with the need for creativity, he may withdraw to this sacred space. Some do so through prayer and meditation, others by returning to nature.

In a less conscious way, modern men disappear into their sheds and gardens to connect with their magician energy. In the shadow of the archetype it may be the local bar or hotel. The initiated magician will frequently emerge from the inner space refreshed, empowered and ready to respond to the world. The magician wisely understands the power of inaction and will frequently find the peace and focus that enables him to navigate the trials of life with little effort, as he surrenders his conscious will and follows the voice of his intuition.

The primordial magician in men has manifested itself in what anthropologists refer to as the Shaman. The Shaman, in traditional societies was the healer, the one who restored life, who found lost souls and uncovered the hidden cause of misfortune. He was the one who restored wholeness and fullness of being to individuals and communities. The magician, as the Shaman, seeks to achieve the highest good for all people in all situations.

As positive as the magician archetype is, like all the other forms of the mature masculine energy potentials, it too has a shadow side. If ours is an age of the magician, then it is also an age of the shadow magician. We need only to think about the mushrooming problem of toxic waste poisoning our planet as a by-product of technologies created by the fragmented magician energy of the modern era. In the darkest eras of history, it was the shadow magician that handed us the technology of the death camps and the explosive power to destroy our planet.

The empowered magician masters nature with gentleness and equanimity. He knows the importance of caring for nature, even as he seeks to benefit from it. Our relationship with nature today is more akin to tyranny. The shadow magician is easily seduced by personal gain and cannot help but curse all that he puts his hand to. A man under this shadow doesn’t guide others, as the light magician does. Rather he manipulates them from behind the scenes. His interest is not in initiating others into better, happier and more fulfilled lives. Rather the manipulator manoeuvres people by withholding the information they need for their own well-being.

Forgetting his own humanity, the shadow magician creates a god-like façade and seeks to amass a following. He revels in the illusion others hold of him and falls into denial of his own shortcomings as he gradually grows to believe in his own deception.

The shadow magician is detached and cruel. The man under the power of the manipulator not only hurts others with his cynical detachment from the world of human values, but also himself. This is the man who thinks too much, intellectualising everything. He stands back from his life, a master of theory and philosophy whose knowledge does not translate into mature living. Whenever we are detached, unrelated, or withholding; whenever we use our knowledge as a weapon to belittle and control others or bolster our status at their expense, we move with the shadow magician.

As we access the magician archetype, we need to regulate this energy with the other three main archetypes. None of them work well alone. We need to mix with the magician, the kings maturity, generosity and concern for his community, the warrior’s ability to act courageously and decisively and the lovers deep union with all things. We will then be using our knowledge, power, and channel our creative energy flow for benefit to our selves, our loved ones, our communities and our planet.