The Fool
The Magician
Stage One
The High Priestess
Stage Two
The Empress
Stage Three

The Emperor
Stage Four

The Hierophant
Stage Five

The Lovers
Stage Six

The Chariot
Stage Seven
Part Two
Part Three

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The animal led the Fool to the centre of the town, where a small crowd was gathered around a young man clad in crimson. Laid out on a table before him were some coins, a cup and a sword. He held a wand in his left hand, and was entertaining the crowd with tricks. First he juggled the wand and sword, skilfully avoiding being cut by the sharp blade. Then he moved a cup around the table and invited the audience to bet how many coins it covered. At first it was easy, but as the gamblers grew more assured so the coins became increasingly elusive. The crowd roared its approval as its less cautious members lost to the trickster. None was more appreciative than the Fool, who quickly decided that he wanted nothing more than to learn the secrets of magic.

After the performance the crowd quickly dispersed and the Fool, fingering his single coin fondly (since he knew it would soon disappear), invited the Magician to accompany him to a nearby tavern.

They found a secluded corner and settled themselves by a roaring log fire. The dog, which seemed quite devoted to the Magician, followed them to the fireside, where it lay down and was soon asleep. After allowing the Fool to purchase food and drink, the magician gazed for a long while into his mug of ale, before reciting the following verse in a dream-like tone.

"Inside this clay jug there are canyons and pine mountains
And the maker of canyons and pine mountains.
All seven oceans are inside,
And hundreds of millions of stars..."

With these words he drank the cup dry, belched loudly, and turned his attention to his benefactor.

"Fortuitous indeed," he announced portentously, "were the stars that led you to me. Within the Castle upon yonder hill lies that which you seek. Yet this castle will not give up its secret unless an appropriate key is brought to it. Only I can strip the veil of illusion from your eyes to reveal the way to acquire this key."
He produced several coins, wiped them carefully on his coat sleeve, then began to juggle them skilfully.

"Those who admire my tricks," said the Magician," see only the performance, not the work behind the scenes. For where the hand moves, there the eyes follow; where the eyes go the mind follows; where the mind goes the mood follows; and where the mood goes there the flavour, the feelings, the emotions arise. The miracle is in the eye of the beholder. Believing is Seeing."

It may have been only an illusion, but the shiny coins now seemed to be dancing in the air of their own accord, above the magician's hands.

"The earthbound," he continued, in a tone more sad than scornful, "travel through life with their eyes fixed to the ground. They have forgotten they are magicians, with the power to change the world. Yet they are neither lazy nor stupid. They simply have impotent dreams. Dreams which fail to inspire."

There was a long pause, punctuated only by the regular patter of the coins in the magician's hands, and an occasional crackle from the fire.

"The genie of talent can only be released from their slumber when you know how to call them from the depths of your need, just as you did when you first learned to speak your native tongue. To work wonders you must first discover your true intent, for magic springs naturally from desire."

The magician caught all the coins deftly, and with practised agility pocketed them all except one, which he placed carefully on the table before him.

"You must tend to the inner fire of your vision", he said in a stern tone. "Behold the alchemy of the elements!"

With these words he threw a handful of dust into the fire, which flared emerald green and gold. Within the blaze could be seen a dozen brilliant figures, leaping and cavorting as the magician chanted:

"Focus first on Ends not Means.
Explore the Colour of your Dreams!"

As the Fool stared entranced at the display, the magician spun his silver coin upon the table.

"Some seek their fortune in the gold and green of material things or the silver of truth." The coin glistened and the blade of the Magician's sword gleamed, as a spark from the fire danced along it.

"Others seek the power of achievement, or the fulfilment of love." He tapped the cup with the wand, and a stream of fiery red and blue sparks crackled between them.

"The hottest part of the fire is white. Here, all colours are contained. Your task is to discover the white heart of your desire, for the key to the Castle is the dream you bring to it."

And the next moment the Magician, with his cup, sword, coins and wand, was gone, leaving the Fool with a thirst no ale could quench.

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Copyright © 2000 by Jenny and Chris Gilders,
Tarot cards by Rider-Waite, U.S.Games, Inc.