Return to site

The Tarot of Eli-Major Arcana- New Orleans Voodoo Tarot-Key 1- Dr. John & Thoth Tarot- ATU-1-The Magus

Western Qabalistic Tarot Card Comparison.


The New Orleans Voodoo Tarot-Key 1-Dr. John, is the comparable card to the Thoth Magus. Dr.John is a name given to a personage who is traveling the starry road to the Loa (Mysteries/Spirits). Each of Lois Martiné and Sallie Ann Glassman's Voodoo Tarot Cards, come with its own Vèvè- a ritual drawing that a practitioner uses to summon the power of a particular Loa. I have not a diagram of all the Vèvè, so if you wish them, you should purchase the New Orleans Voodoo Tarot, Text-by Lois Martiné & Art- Sallie Ann Glassman.

The original Dr.John, was a practitioner and sacred drummer of great renown in the city of New Orleans, during the early 1800's. His appearance is that of a fierce, free African whose face was said to be tattooed with red and blue snake like lines. His virtues are traditional and dedicated to the maintenance of the strict African forms within Voodoo and those vibratory laws that govern the rhythms used to call the Loa. According to legend, Dr. John's spirit resides close to Congo Square in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. Also, Dr. John still plays his Drum in New Orleans and in many parts of the New World alive with African rhythms. All one has to do is listen late at night, the drumming is continuous-now loud-now soft, as his power is that of sound/vibration. Therefore, it could be said that the "power of words" is his, as attributed to the Thoth Magus, but that power depends on the Fool/World Egg who is the "Breath of all " as words ride the breath. Even in Voodoo Tradition, the beginning of all began with Sound, Rhythm, the Logos or Word. This rhythm is the pulsing road all spirits travel, and the power of the Dance of Shakti and Shiva, the Divine Creative of Hindu tradition.

Generally, a the leader of the congregation, a priestess, harnesses his power to Voodoo Rites. However, the congregation can also do this. He is tasked with producing bursts of energy from the drums on demand. The Tattooed serpentine lines on his face channel the necessary power. Primarily, the role of a drummer is to heat up the rites, by providing the rhythmic fuel.  

The present Dr.John is a powerful musician whose music and stage presence have a strong Voodoo feel. This attests to the Power of the Original Dr.John who was able to conjure and hold. It is noted that after the Original Dr. John's death, another Dr. John, who resembled the original closely, was quick to make his way into Voodoo Circles. Reincarnation seems to be subtly mentioned here.

As in the Magus card, the hand raised and the striking hand, used in drum playing show the Metaphysical Axiom of "As above, so below". The Card Scene is that of Congo Square in New Orleans, and the good Dr. is playing for one of the dances presided over by Marie Laveau. Congo Square was the officially sanctioned location for ritualized dancing by enslaved Africans in the early 19th century and is a holy site of great spiritual energy. It is also a popular song, Congo Square, by Sonny Landreth, a prominent New Orleans musician.

Powers attributed to this card include the use of rhythm to call the spiritual into the Visible World. Therefore, Dr. John is a great patron of ritual drummers. I am not sure, but when I do shamanic drumming on my elk hide mother drum,

for inner trance work, I feel a great presence take over my striking arm and great spiritual power floods the area...could be the Dr!

In Divination, the Dr. John Voodoo Tarot Card implies:

  • Craft.
  • Consummate skill in the matter at hand.
  • Occult powers or wisdom. 
  • Ability to see root causes clearly.
  • Identification of the individual Will with a greater or more inclusive Will. 

The Relationship of the Fool and the Magus

Kether, the Source of All, is connected to Chokma, the first activity towards creation, via the 11th Path of the Fool. The Hebrew letter Aleph-meaning OX, is assigned to this Path. In the Zohar, the letter Aleph is considered representative of absolute unity. This supports the Qabalistic interpretation of, Aleph-Ox, as the symbol of the Life-Power, and/or creative energy. As I have stated before, the Fool Card, demands multi-faceted and fluid interpretation. The Path of Aleph, is called the Fiery or Scintillating Intelligence which proceeds from the Limitless Light of Kether that is darkness to us (Dark Energy). This Fiery Darkness is the possibility of motion or vibration and the First Perception or Will of the One that is the potential for activity.

Qabalistis know this One as the Primal Creative Energy of the Universe that acts upon itself to emanate the Cosmos. To a physicist this is the, "One energy that cannot be created nor destroyed, only transformed.”. There are many attempts to explain the 'First Thought, that created Mind, such as, The Logos- Word of God, the first vibration, etc.; However, all we can say is that from the invisible nothing (Ain Soph) comes the potential for thought, thus thought appears and emanates Mind/Wisdom which is the vessel that contains thought...this makes the Mind the First Vessel of Magnetic form or Womb. And yet, A. Crowley called the letter Aleph, a plough shares in shape and thus a phallic symbol of 'Expression". Thus the Potential Androgyny is conceived of, as the potential for Sexuality, male-electric and female-magnetic which then unlocks the potential for creative- diversity. When considering all of this, it helps to stay fluid in your thinking! Also availing yourself of a diagram of the Tree of Life and its connecting paths will help in the enabling visuals, especially if one views the Paths as figure eights.

The Magus-Key/ATU- 1, is attributed to the Hebrew Letter-Beth, meaning House, and connects Kether (Dark Energy) to Binah, the Great Organizer. Binah, known as the Sephiroth- Understanding, is the Potential for Womb, becoming the House or "dwelling place" for Spirit (spiral energy) descending towards the density of manifestation, for ideas understood become information.i.e., form. The Magus represents that which builds the house, i.e. Will. Will or the Magus is the first “I” that directs and encloses the One Spirit which is represented as THE FOOL The Actions of directing is Phallic and the action of enclosing is that of the Womb. Thus, I call the 3rd Sephiroth-Binah---"The Womb with a View" and/or Imagination. The word Imagination if examined as I- Magi- Nation....will not only titillate our brain, it may also shed some light on this potential of Understanding the Will. 

One may note, that the higher one works up the Tree of Life, the differences between the cards is subtler and more fluid than the lover levels. This subtlety is even more pronounce in The Fool and The Magus (Magician) that are only separated by a slight degree, as is electric and magnetic force, a fact that is not seen in the anthropomorphized symbolism of the cards or of the Spirit as human male and female forms! As shown in this illustration, the female forms from an 0 while the male is represented as a bonding agent or Lingam or phallus, the depiction is roughly that of a figure 8, and is a sketch of one of the Greek Herms and of ancient phallic worship. This also graphically illustrates the magical and natural fact, that only one male is required as a solar phallus, with multiple females/Spheres. This is also true in species survival, as one male and 500 women can continue the species, whereas, one woman and 500 males is the death of a species.

All Worship and rationale aside, suffice it to say that Beth (house) is the First in Principle, the first in creation, the beginning of the beginning, i.e. the place of will-To- be! To the Alchemist, Beth, is the Philosophic Mercury or First Matter. The Alpha, which is never without Omega! The female that is never without the Male. To create beginning is to create end, thus the opposites of life and death which are the key polarities to creation, are attributed to the letter Beth. Specifically, without the energies of the Magus, life and death would not exist, nor would beginning and end; all would be formless.

The infinity symbol (Lemniscus-Latin word for “ribbon”), seen as a figure 8 laying on its side, a type of Mobius loop, as well as, the symbol of the Serpent that eats its own tail, Oroboros, initiates and represents this multidimensional cyclic process of life and death. Both represent the closed circle of energy in the Universe begun by number one Beth acting upon the zero; Aleph. What may also aid in the thought of Male-eclectic and Female-magnetic force being separated by a slight degree, is that infinity symbol is merely a circle twisting to looking upon itself, an action that creates a female circle of force and male circle of force where One= Two. The same can be said for the electromagnetic spectrum of light. Electric-Male and Female magnetic, combine to form One Electromagnetic spectrum of great diversity!

In the Zohar, the relationship of Aleph-The Fool and Beth- the Magus to creation, are discussed in a most charming matter, which is unusual for esoteric literature. I would recommend that the discerning student of the Tarot read this Qabalistic book. The relationship between The Fool and The Magus (magician) is so subtle that our best hope of even approaching an understanding, resides in meditation on spiritual text, like the Zohar, combine with the images of the Tarot cards. To speak directly of the Invisible, is impossible, so a circle of ideas must be formed, each giving a suggestion about the nature of the inner Truth. Each Sephiroth on the Tree of Life is each a Circle or Womb of intelligence, and each Form is an understanding of these circles while each Force is a potential to Form. I may have lost you with that one, so let me say, that The Magus is a channel through which the Energy of the Fool is organized and passes downward. The Magus is both active and passive, as the Magus is both the transmitter and the transmitted, i.e. the Life Force which becomes the primal material in the act of transmission. The Magus being the first step in evolutionary Universal energy towards matter. Thus, in the Thirty-Two Paths of Wisdom, a student text by Dr. Paul Foster Case, the Magus is called the Transparent Intelligence, as light passes through a window from above, so does the Magus pass The Will.

If I have lost you: The Magus or Magician is the path of Beth, meaning House, and is between Kether (Crown) and Binah (Understanding) on the Qabalistic Tree of Life, making it the transition (Phallus) path of the One Undefined Energy, and the Great Organizer, Mother Binah. Thus, the relationship that establishes the meaning of house, Beth, as that of the dwelling place (Womb) where Spirit resides before "falling" into manifestation, which may seem odd, as the Will is Phallic in expression, but the Path of the Magus projects the "I Will Be", Kether, to the Mother Binah. Hence, each Path is an infinity symbol and/or a lemniscate, although not drawn as such to aid in discerning the path.

In this case, it is appropriate to call the Magus that which builds the House. In other words, the Magus directs and encloses the One Spirit (Spiral Energy-Vital Life Force)) which is symbolized by THE FOOL tarot card. The Supernal Triangle, the World of Atziluth, is represented by Tarot Cards whose activities are only separated by a degree or less. Thus, the Aspects of the Magus and the Fool are closely linked. For those who wish a glaring example of this degree of Separation it is about as much as the Testes and Phallus are separated in a human male, albeit the One Great Being (Note* to a Qabalist a "Being" is an Immortal Intelligent Energy")

Scholars of the first five books of the Bible (the Pentateuch), point out that the letter Beth is the First letter, as the book of Genesis begins with Bereshith --commonly translated as "in the beginning". Interestingly, Fabre d'Olivet translated Bereshith as meaning "At First, in principle", knowing that Beth symbolizes the "Beginning of the Beginning"; The Will of the One. Thus, it is the First Matter of the Alchemist, the Philosophic Mercury and or "First Principle". Because to create a beginning one must create an end, the Magus also represents the key polarities of creation, Life and Death. Again, this process is indicated by the figure eight that is lying on its side (lemniscus) and. or Oroboros, the serpent that eats its own tale, as both represent the closed circle of One Energy, begun by the number One -Beth, acting on the Zero-Aleph, THE FOOL.

The Lemniscus symbolizes the Act of Turning upon oneself as a Twisting or Spiraling-Thus creating Male and Female infinite circles of Force in the ONE Energy and the Sexual Dance of God/Goddess; the Divine Creative. Because there is no Action in the Crown or Mind of God, until Will disturbs it, the Magus chant of," I am the will. I am the way. I am the wealth; I own the Day." is most apropos to this card.

[For an entertaining story of the first relationship between the letters Aleph and Beth, I would suggest one reads the Zohar, a Qabalistic text.]

However, even though the Magus is associated with Mercury, the Messenger of the Gods, it is not all active. In fact, it is both active and passive, as it is both that which Transmits and that which is transmitted (A phallus)! The Magus represents both the One Life Energy which when transmitted becomes the Prima Materia (First Matter or Semen of Will which is commonly known as Thought). Here an understanding of the fact that the Magus (Mercury) is the "message bearer" of the Gods, meaning he is not Himself the Creator, only the bearer of his Will much as the semen is the bearer of the genes of the Father. Thus the Magus is the ejaculator of will. (The whole Supernal Triangle is the action of the Divine Phallus and Womb.). The Wand in The Magician's hand (Golden Dawn Deck) symbolizes this phallic action, showing that the Magick is merely the Transmitted will of the Greater Being that is the Supernal Triangle or Trinity.

The Roman, Mercury, is the Greek Hermes and the Egyptian- Thoth, all represent the same deity, the amalgamation of their qualities having become inseparable in modern esoteric literature.

Hermes, was always associated with words, this makes sense as a messenger must simply state the cause of the one who has sent him. Then there is the Egyptian- Thoth, who reportedly created the Hieroglyphs, which developed the necessary means by which a message could be transmitted and recorded. The companion of Thoth/Hermes, was shown as a dog-headed Ape (Cynocephalus), representing words themselves, and their potential for deception and misunderstanding. Thus, we have Cynocephalus, included in the Thoth Deck card, laying at the feet of the Magus.

Not only do words affect the Will, as cause and effect, but they also transmit ideas from person to person in the same way that the Magus transmits the idea of Self-Creation of the One -Kether. The Transmitted idea, from The Magus, Fertilizes the ONE Womb, (Understanding) that is the Great Mother Binah. Just as words fertilize Consciousness! Thus the power of Words, is about stimulating the birthing of unconscious ideas into conscious images of understanding, by the Power of Expression, but not necessarily the Truth of Creation, for that Must Be Made Manifest (THE PRIESTESS).

Okay, this concept may be so subjective, that it may be difficult to understand, but try skrying the card. Your meditative observation will open your consciousness to the flow of the Collective Unconscious were greater knowledge is stored.

To reiterate, THE MAGUS is the Path of Beth (house or temple), and it transmits the idea of Self-Creation of the One from above-known as Kether (Crown). A spoken word is a sound that carries an idea, so the Magus is associated with the First Vibration or Word of God. The First Vibration encloses Spirit, beginning the process of creation, thus encompassing all that is. In the Golden Dawn papers, this idea was conveyed by relating the Mercury symbol (planetary sign) to all the Sephiroth, with the exception of Kether. You may note that the Horns spring from Daath, often called the invisible Sephiroth but really, it is the conjunction of Chokmah (Great Father and Binah (Great Mother), a face to face union, that creates what is called: The Divine Child. This is understandable, since Wisdom (Chokmah) and Understanding (Binah) conjoin in the birthing of Knowledge (Daath). Here Mercury is placed in the Sephiroth to show further example.

Consequentially the showing of Mercury on the Caduceus, properly places the Four Worlds, [Atziluth, Briah, Yetzirah and Assiah], that are transitions of the Wand of the Magus, Kether is the Winged Orb at the top. By deeper delving into the Golden Dawn tests, the student will find that the Primum Mobile, Latin for "first motion”, is acting through Philosophic Mercury (Magus) on Saturn-Binah, who is Will to Form or as I like to call her, "The Will to BE". As before stated, she is the Mother of Form and the Magus is the Idea of Being and/or Will.

The activity of first motion acting on Saturn-Binah, is words or Vibration and whoever can willfully direct the Vibration of the First Motion, (often referred to as to "Pronounce the word-YHVH") shall command the Universal Force. This Mastery of the Universal motion, is called the "moves-Moves" among certain Native American nations, and/or the "motion within the movement" of the Mysteries. Quantum physicists would call it the "Dark energy that pushes the Universe", while Qabalists call it the Magus.

Dr.Paul Foster Case, in his Book of Tokens, stated that, "all created wills are but reflections" …of the Will that is the Magus. This is an essential ideal of the Mysteries and acknowledges the fact that our Superior Nature (Divine I) acts through the Magus.

In the Crowley card, unlike the Golden Dawn card, THE MAGUS is not holding a Wand, the primary instrument of the MAGICIAN cards; Rather, THE MAGUS is the Wand, He is the Essence of Phallus, which Crowley understood. This Subjective Phallus, is not an object. All Objects are formed by Binah, who is Will to Form. The Essence of Womb, is the Fool-0.

Victorian sensibilities have softened the ancient depictions of Hermes as the Herms, that were upright stone slabs with a bust and a very large stone phallus curiously attached to the front of the column. This acknowledgment of "First Motion" is also shown in the Shiva- Lingam worship of the Hindus and or the Phallus- God Priapus of the Romans. Without the Transmitted Will of the One, understanding of an idea, cannot become a Form of Understanding. This is a complex idea, and requires deep meditations on THE MAGUS card, and also a release of Victorian sensibilities, as we are describing the First SEX Action in the Universal Duality. That Action, produced our Higher Self called Daath, Knowledge, who is the Divine Child of the union of Will and Understanding; the Self Concept of I AM ME. Here, the -I is the Will and the Am is the form of that Will and the Me is the manifestation of the Union.

Caution: This concept could make your forehead itch!

When THE MAGUS is thrown during a reading, it implies:

  • Communication and timing and that all things are possible, with applied Will and understanding.
  • There is an implication of the magic of Universal Vital Force traveling through the human body making one in-tune with the most creative and powerful aspects of yourself; As above, so below.
  • Changing the structure of your living situation by focused action.  
  • Will and focused consciousness.
  • An awareness of Power, and possession and communication of the Powers (Focused will that fertilizes creativity in one’s self and others) and Gifts of Spirit (Divine senses).
  • A magician's Craft.

If ill defined:

  • Aggressiveness. 
  • Misuse of power. 
  • Egotism.

Thank you for your interest, comments and supportive donations. May you live long and prosper.

All Posts

Almost done…

We just sent you an email. Please click the link in the email to confirm your subscription!

OKSubscriptions powered by Strikingly