What Does The Magician Archetype Look Like?

The mature Magician archetype is focused on problem solving, finding solutions, creativity, rational thinking, logical thinking, and creative thinking. He also finds ways to protect us in the face of danger and is an expert in going within to find the gifts of healing and transformation.

In its mature form, the Magician archetype embodies the following qualities:

He is all about creativity, thinking and problem solving. He likes specialist knowledge that requires expertise and learning to master. He may have served an apprenticeship to a master to become qualified in his specialism.

At the same time, he is master of introspection, going within to find the gifts of self-knowledge and healing.

Magician energy is seen in professions such as doctor, counselor, therapist, computer programmer, computer technology, architect, builder, scientist, writer, musician, and actor. However he is active in any profession when problems need to be solved or strategies need to be devised.

He is usually oriented towards goodness, but knows about the dark. Sometimes he is a master of the dark arts and the healing arts.

He is not so much motivated by feeling as by results. He may believe “the ends justify the means”.

He tends to come online when we feel anxiety or fear, energies which signal that something is dangerous or that something needs to change in our lives.

A Magician may live to serve by moving through the world creating right order, teaching people a good way.

The mature Magician desires right order, virtue and wisdom. He seeks to provide counsel to the King, and desires to be respected for both his wisdom and his ability to advise the King. He probably sees himself as being at least as important as the King.

He may be a master of ceremony and ritual and knows about the routes to exploration of soul.

He often comes into being very early in life to protect the Kingdom (and especially the Lover archetype) from wounding, by finding strategies to stay safe in a hostile childhood environment. These include disassociation, risk management, avoidance of certain situations and behaviours.

Additional descriptive words for the Magician archetype include: advisor, counselor, seer, interpreter, articulate, available, planner, solver, objective, thoughtful, visionary, guide, Shaman. Read more about magician archetypes here.

In its purest form, the emotional wound here is “I’m bad.” This is where a lot of shame lives.

A child may be shamed for his very existence, or pick up on subtle or not-so-subtle clues that his presence in the world is not wanted or acceptable or even approved of by his parents, siblings or peers. He may be told – either overtly or covertly – that he is bad, that there is something wrong with him, that he is unlovable because of his nature. He may learn he is evil in certain religions and cults – as in the concept of original sin: “We are all born bad and need to be saved.”

The essence here is about being shamed for who he is, the message being that the essence of who he is, is somehow defective. As a result a child learns to step out of himself to some degree, to watch his behaviour, to modify it so it suits others, so he stays safe. In this way he becomes detached, an observer  in his own life, and grows his magician energy.

Alternatively, if a child lives with danger, violence, rage, manipulation, or exploitation, or for some other reason has a strong need to stay safe in an unpredictable environment, he may grow magician energy to both watch for danger and to come up with strategies to stay safe.

In the extreme, he may become hypervigilant, always on the watch, afraid to inhabit his own body. Sometimes men describe leaving their bodies during childhood (or later in life) and finding themselves watching events from a higher vantage point.

Whatever this experience represents, we can be sure it was the Magician archetype within who was seeking to keep these men safe from the knowledge and feeling of terror about what was really happening. This is one way in which the aspect of the Magician sometimes called the Risk Manager or Safety Officer can deal with trauma.

The Risk Manager or Safety Officer seeks to protect all of us by forming childhood strategies which are designed to try and keep us safe from harm. Unfortunately these strategies will persist into adulthood and can become very outdated, and therefore restrictive in living a full and rewarding life, unless they are attended to (usually by another Magician skilled in the healing arts).

Magician on video

When magician energy is not required, it will be put into shadow by the child or adult. There it can inflate or deflate, and then it finds two ways of expression.

The inflated shadow Magician 

His feelings are overwhelming fear and shame. He knows he’s bad in some fundamental way. But often he “knows” you are as well, and he may seek to show you how, or to make things better for you (whether you asked him to or not). Or he may switch into persecutor mode, which is another way of staying safe (by making you bad).

He talks and talks all around his truth. Then he talks and talks some more until you finally believe him or just give in. He is all-knowing, with perfect perception, and must show you how.

He connects through understanding and exchange of ideas, not through feeling.

He believes you are not smart enough, no one else is; but fortunately he is here to help.

He creates a following by disingenuous if not dishonest behaviour. After all, the end justifies the means. This may mean a lot of dancing around with words. The desired outcome is that he is in control, which is necessary for him to believe he is safe.

He may be always thinking. His mind may seem unstoppable. Although  creative, his thoughts are chaotic, because he is thinking of many different possibilities at once.

He needs a strong King to give him clear direction and boundaries so he can stop trying to figure it out all on his own. (He is often a quite young child inside you who had to learn a lot precociously or who had to do the thinking for a family who could not run their own lives.)

He may be example predatorial, vindictive, cynical and uncaring. He may carry an urge to punish, or an energy of sadism. He may believe that an underhand, sideways attack is the best form of defence, and so gets his arrows fired into you in an almost offhand way, the sting of which you only feel sometime later.

The deflated shadow Magician

He may seem frozen, paralysed, confused, and unknowing.

He can hold many different possibilities and seem unable to choose between them.

He may be masochistic, self-blaming, extremely self-critical and harshly judgemental of himself, holding a feeling of incompetence and inability.

The Shadow Magician archetype sabotages plans, and criticises and judges other people and himself.

Additional descriptive words for the shadow Magician include: always in his head, analysis paralysis, hyper-cautious, agent of chaos, deflecting, detached, disruptive, isolated, manipulative, micro-managing controlling, misdirecting, self righteous, the voice of criticism and disapproval, indispensable and opinionated.

The Mature Magician

You know your mature Magician is supporting you when you accept that fear is unavoidable. After all, change, threat, uncertainty, and even danger, are inevitable. Then your Magician can really support you to find new ways to be in the world. And in this, he can help you open to input from people who know more (or even less) than you.

This reduces any risk attached to what is, or may be, about to happen. This becomes less about being clever and knowing it all on your own and more about being supported and working with support. Another technique for looking superior is to shame someone else. These are behaviours which stem from your core belief that you are somehow bad or defective or inadequate.

Shadow Magician

You know your Shadow Magician is sabotaging you when you hide you disconnect from others. This can look like you are right, whatever the situation, and not open to other input. Or maybe it looks like you’re paralysed with fear or indecision and you stay slumped in a place of not-knowing or repeatedly-doing-the-same-thing. This doesn’t work no matter how hard you try (because it’s based on a strategy which evolved when you were a boy).

And if you feel deeply ashamed of yourself, your shadow Magician is usually at play, trying to protect you from danger by doing what he’s always done: stopping you from expressing some aspect of yourself. After all, once upon a time, that might have been a great way to avoid being shamed even more.

Discover Your Archetypes and Explore the Shadow In You!