The Fool starts out on his way without a care in the world.
He sees the World as an entrance into the wondrous, the wide-open. To him, it is like a mysterious and sensual woman beckoning to him from behind a thin veil, and he eagerly moves to embrace it. He is naive, credulous, and takes things at face value.
He is not a Fool because he is stupid- he simply lacks experience, and has not wandered wide enough to attain insight or wisdom. Already, he courts danger, as he does not look where his feet are going, and a cliff lies in front of him, a yawning precipice that represents all the dangers and pitfalls of the world- its lights of illusion, its addictions, its hollow pursuits and many despairs.
On his shoulder, he carries a pack tied to the end of a stick, his essentials thrown into a cloth and bound up to take with him on his long way. One can imagine that he has not packed or prepared well for his journey, having never undertaken anything of the sort before, and therefore not knowing what he even needs on the way without.
He is the archetypal youth- untested, untried, and unknowing. But he is on the road, and this is act of heroism is the first step in becoming- simply daring to set out from the comforts of home, he has begun a process of ascension that most will never be intrepid enough to attempt.
The Fool, he may be, but he is no coward, and his willingness to tread the endless path marks him a son of fire, destined for greatness and glory.
On his road, he begins to gain experience. He commits himself fully to the Great Work of experiencing all that life has to offer to him, cruelty and mercy, love and hatred, sex, fear, death, creation and the emptiness at the heart of it all.
His walking stick becomes a symbol of his will, energy, and determination, as well as his impulse to create, and the Inner Fire- the true mark of the Magician he is becoming. He grasps the mysteries of thought and learning, elevated consciousness, and is initiated into the esoteric truths of the cosmos and reality. He goes raving mad on plants and powders, and experiences clarity from years of abstinence, and can switch from one to the other in a heartbeat.
Along his way he attains an understanding of the various elements of life, of which the wand or staff is one: the Chalice- symbol of emotion, feeling, as well as social interactions between human beings, and the ability to predict them, dissect them and examine their meanings. He experiences love, friendship and connection, as well as heartbreak, betrayal and isolation. He knows that all are as meaningful and valuable as the other, and all just as critical to assimilate and distill.
The Pentacle, or Coin- wealth, power, freedom, exchange and material dominion, its attainment and leverage, and how to utilize it to his benefit. He experiences luxury, comfort, and satisfaction as well as deprivation, wretched excess, decadence and abject poverty. All are known to him and he is equally at home in silk as sackcloth, and has drunk wine with kings and stolen food with beggars.
The Sword- he wields the blade of action and courage, ambition and power like a fencer. He experiences domination and slavery, both as master and slave. Deep despair and stagnation are encountered and bested, empires are built and enemies crushed utterly.
Through these years of applying himself to everything that comes within his aegis, he attains the title of Magician, and these elements of the World are his tools. No longer is his pack filled with trinkets and nonsense, but well honed and well known implements of his trade.
Above his head, the eternity symbol can be seen by those with eyes to see it, the number 8, the Dagaz rune, showing his balance and reconciliation of opposites, his experience across the gamut of human experience, and his ongoing work of mastering them and finding the place that exist just there at the crossover in the center.
Around his waist is the Ouroboros, the serpent swallowing its own tail, a reminder to him that all comes full circle and completes and devours itself at once. Every idea contains its own opposition.
He points to the earth and sky, the knowledge of Hermes Thrice-Majestic displayed in this mudra: That which is above is like that which is below, and that which is below is like that which is above. Anything can be understood by knowing anything else. A cell can explain man as surely as man can explain the entire cosmos.
As the Magician, his path will lead him yet to many diverse places, and into the darkest and most sublime realms imaginable. He will unify himself with the divine feminine, in the form of the High Priestess and the Empress, in a holy union that may take many forms and lead through various gateways.
He will know the secrets of the rulership of the world, and the inner keys to both Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy as he plumbs the depths of belief and praxis and finds that one leads to the other, and back again, as it must be.
Partaking in the Sabbath, achieving consonance of the mind and yoking the mighty Sphinx as he gains mastery over the often fickle inner processes, its riddles known to him plainly. Finally, achieving the little stone, he comes to Strength and Fortitude as a master of much and many.
And yet, this is a false victory- a premature enlightenment, that leads to a renunciation of the world, and a drawing within. The Magician embraces the true nature of the Work, and becomes the Hermit, solitary, and yet still acting as a beacon to others who see him as a symbol of what they could become.
He stands at the same cliff the Fool walked toward at his beginning, somberly, and holds the light of truth up, apart from the world and yet still desiring its salvation, but unable to exist as a part of it any longer. He is pariah by his own hand.
At some perfect, crystallized moment, the Hermit will feel the stirrings again, deep within him, and his feet will again seek the road as it calls to him, wondrous, wide-open.
To him, it is like a mysterious and sensual woman beckoning to him from behind a thin veil, and he eagerly moves to embrace it.