|Jean Noblet Tarot, Flornoy 2014|
Today we have Magician. For some reason he seems to be holding a small pink penis, though it looks rather like it might also be a digit bent backward. Whatever it is he's holding in his other hand is small and pink -- maybe he's giving a demonstration of how to put on a condom. Well, who knows what the creator of this deck was thinking in 1650 Paris. There's a lot of debate about this detail. Many think it is the result of a broken wood block. Others think it was Noblet's play on words: une verge means both rod or wand and penis, apparently. Rather than any esoteric meaning, it was probably either a mistake, or a joke. I suspect it's a joke. Some people say it has to do with 'beginnings' and 'generation', but for me, and traditionally, that is represented by the female and not the male reproductive organs. It's just a silly cock joke. 'He's holding his wand. Fnar fnar.'
He's not even the Magician, he's Le Bateilleur, a street performer. He has some of the tools of his trade on the table: dice, 3 cups and 3 peas (or that could be some sort of chain or hoop trick), a couple of knives (maybe he throws or juggles them?) and pages from a book which he probably can't read but likes to amaze his audience by either pretending to consult or reciting some memorised lines while pretending to read. It is 1650 after all, and this is a street performer, unlikely to be literate. Whatever's going on in his hands has less to do with symbols of new life and more to do with illusion and prestidigitation. He's probably just about to make the 'coin' he's holding disappear up his quite voluminous sleeve. His routine is so well rehearsed, he can afford to look away and pay attention to something else. Maybe he's bored. Work is work, after all. It's his job to fool us, maybe even amaze us, but for him, it's just a routine.
'The function of the Magician is to make us question everything, including why we may feel uneasy about being conned. But we are also meant to question why we like being conned,' writes Camelia Elias in Marseille Tarot: Towards the Art of Reading. 'Indeed, what if the illusion of reality is more interesting than the real? What is the real? The mind is high strung when this card is present. How about winding down the stress?'
Where are you feeling conned today? Where are you conning yourself? And what is stressing you out? Move on down the street and leave 'LL Batelevr' to carry on without you.