We all love a good magic show. Magic is, well… magical, delightful, surprising! Done well, it can be entertaining. It can be transformative. It can be frightening and freaky as well. It can be trickery, and prestidigitation, slight of hand that feels a bit like you’ve been cheated. Beyond the wiz bang of disappearing items and sawing people in half and escape artistry, and an Illusionist based magic, there’s a deeper kind of everyday magic. It’s the magic of manifestation. How a thought or a dream vision you have, can become materialized into reality right before you. How a struggle or challenge you have had can be transformed into a triumph of insight and revelation.
Mature Magicians are quite simply the purveyors of this every day supportive magic. This is the kind of magic that is founded in wisdom and awareness. And there’s a serious level of training and skill development to learn to apply the wisdom teachings into every day life. How to care for yourself, how to eat, how to deal with pain, how to deal with pleasure, how to answer the great eternal questions, who am I and what am I here for? These are the essential province of the mature magician, and a good magician, possessed of wisdom tools can help you transform out of the most dire of situations into the heart of realization and transcendence.
This is why magicians are so sought after in our world. They lead us from darkness to light, from ignorance to awakening, from the mire of self deprecation to the depths of self-appreciation. Indeed the mature magician is a powerful, important and esteemed resource in the community. And developing it within yourself, so that you can experience personal empowerment as a co-creator of your life, is essential work. A myriad of life skills fall into line with this great endeavor, and skilled guidance along that journey can make all the difference in the world.
So, what of the shadow aspects that can show up when the immature magician is running the show? Here we look to two aspects that are important in identifying these shadowy figures. The Trickster and the Know-it-All. The trickster and the know-it-all are indeed shadowy representations of the magician, and once you become aware of them, you can begin to dance more deeply with this process of transformation.
Let’s first look at the trickster. In many indigenous cultural teachings the trickster shows up as a teacher. A teacher of some renown and presence. The reputation of the trickster is one of great caution, and ultimately a level of acceptance is involved that can lead one through an encounter with the trickster to a level of greater self realization. But face it, it’s no fun to be played a fool. And yet everyone does, at one time or another. Be it wishful thinking, or desire for quick results, or a willingness to be easily mesmerized into a pretty illusion that seems to promise so much, it is just darned easy to be trapped by the trickster. The old adage “All the glitters is not gold, can keep you alert to the designs of the trickster showing up in your life.
In one Oglala story, the trickster is seen as the one who delights in making people look ridiculous! Now, that may ring a few bells, as you contemplate any manner of foibles and follies that have been a part of your life. And it’s not just on the receiving end of these tricks that you may find yourself. You may yourself be guilty of practicing an occasional trickery yourself. It so often seems that maybe the best way to get something you seek is to kind of make a play, to joke around, maybe even to tell an outright falsehood. How many times have you pretended to be something you were not, just because you thought, “if I really show who I am, I will be rejected!” Or, how about that art of the “bluff” in any brilliantly played poker hand? Yes… you see, in certain situations the trickster gets rewarded. (I hate to be topical, but a master trickster tricked his way right into the white house, and the whole country gets to play the fool here.) But you see, fools can ultimately awaken us to wisdom.
In many senses, I believe that wisdom is simply one side of a two-sided coin, with foolishness on the other side. if we did not ever get fooled, we would likely never find our way to wisdom. And so, the trickster plays at being a magician, and in a high sense of the word, could be a truly masterful magician in many ways. But its the unconscious trickster that is perhaps the most dangerous. The self-serving trickster, with no regard for the greater consequences that could play out for years, that is the one to be on the look out for.
Oh my, my story bank is so full of trickster stories, that I hardly know where to contain myself in this short piece on this shadow of the magician. At this point, I will rest from exploring the trickster, and let this suffice for now, and move on to that other tricky little shadowy aspect of the magician. The Know-it-All.
There are perhaps equal volumes that could be written on this fine character, but suffice it to say, know-it-alls are a bore, and they keep you disempowered. Knowledge is power they say, and all too often this know-it-all character is actually involved in a subtle, or not-so-subtle power grab. They love throwing their weight around, spinning stories as apparent fact, grabbing the ownership of the pool of meaning, and allowing no others to contribute their perceptions or thoughts into the conversation. They do this as a way to protect their own fragile position. Ultimately, they are not powerful at all. At times, however, they are indeed in possession of important knowledge and insight.
Now when you get a know-it-all in a position of power, that’s when it can get most dicey. A know-it-all may indeed possess exactly the needed knowledge to help transform a given situation. But it’s the way they hold it, and then hold everyone else hostage, that makes the application of that knowledge a shadowy undertaking. We’ve probably all had disdainful professors or teachers who delighted in lording it over us, calling us stupid, and rather than lifting us up, and helping us to attain new insight or perspective they merely work to enforce their will upon us, and grandstand their supreme perspective on the situation. In the shadow of the know-it-all, nobody grows, nothing is ultimately transformed.
You see, the mature magician knows a great deal, an incredible amount actually. But this is like that penetrating truth so artfully stated in the tao the ching. “He who says he knows, does not know. He who knows, does not claim to know.”
This is the work, indeed the high art of exploring the development of the mature magician. To penetrate into the mystery of life and to do so with compassion, wisdom, understanding, and a supportive desire to help others help themselves. The immature magician too often will leap into the rescuer role, not realizing that rescuers perpetuate the presence of victims. The true art here is to rise to the level not of rescuer, but of coach. To coach and support people to be the stars of their own life, empowered to be fully who they truly are. There is the magic indeed. A good coach is a mature magician.
I hope you will take this to heart, and reply with your own stories or awareness of your magician in training! We are all on a long journey to arrive at our fullest expression of our truest self. Thank you for awakening your awareness on this grand adventure.
And stay tuned for the 4th and final installment in this series, Four Archetypes, Part 4, The King and it’s Shadows. In that next piece, I will explore the Mature King/Queen, and take a look at the revealing shadow figures of Tyrant and Abdicator.
Until next time… watch for the tricksters and know-it-alls, and rest in your own empowered place.