Thursday, April 15, 2021

Tarot Tales: M is for The Magician

Welcome to the 2021 A to Z Blogging Challenge! My theme this year is Tarot Tales. I am making a selection of folktales, legends, and other traditional stories that correspond to tarot cards. Storytelling and tarot go well together. Do other stories come to mind? Let me know in the comments!

The card: The Magician

Meanings: This card speaks for itself. It is about power, knowledge, energy, and action. This person has all the tools and resources to turn ideas into reality. He is a master of what he's doing. It is a card full of confidence. He's got this.

Selection process: World folklore is teeming with magicians of all kinds - this was another one of those too many to choose from situations. Once again it would have been easy to pick Merlin. I wanted to pick someone equally legendary and powerful, but from outside of Europe.

The story: Abe no Seimei

Origin: Japan

Abe no Seimei in a game 
called Onmyoji
Abe no Seimei is a very famous onmyoji (diviner and magician) in Japanese lore, who was originally a real historical figure from the 10th century. There are many legends about him, and he's even transferred into popular media. 
According to the stories, Abe no Seimei was only half human: his mother was a kitsune, a fox spirit, who fell in love with a mortal man. Their son had supernatural powers from an early age, he could see hidden things (like his mother's true nature), and command spirits. When he grew up, he became a powerful diviner and magician. He even understood the language of animals.
In one story, Abe no Seimei saves the emperor from a fox maiden named Tamamo no Mae, who lives in his court in the disguise of a concubine, and makes the emperor sick. In another legend, he helps the samurai Watanabe no Tsuna in defeating a terrible demon
One of the most famous legends, however, deal with the divination duel between Abe no Seimei and his rival Ashiya Douman. Over the course of this challenge, Abe no Seimei even summons a dragon, and with its help creates a flood that almost drowns his rival. Later, they both have to guess the contents of a box that was buried. Douman guesses correctly (fifteen oranges), but Abe no Seimei guesses fifteen rats... and then uses his powers to turn the oranges into rats. 

Sources & notes: See the links above. You can also read about Abe no Seimei in this fascinating book.

Runner-ups: I was also seriously considering Vergilius (who in medieval legends transformed from Roman poet into a powerful wizard), Taliesin the Welsh bard, Don Juan de Salamanca the Spanish wizard, a host of Icelandic wizard legends, the red princess' story from Nizami, Kampó the Hungarian wizard, and even Prince Ariel from Madame D'Aulnoy's fairy tales.

Who is your favorite wizard or magician from folklore, from history, or from modern popular culture?


  1. So, Abe no Seimei cheated!

  2. Your choice of magician is wonderful and unknown to me, as are all your runner up choices as well. I love how you always actively push me down rabbit holes. That must be another one of your magical powers. :-)

  3. Whether you count it as cheating depends on what you consider the parameters of the contest. After all, if the contest is to see who's the better wizard, he proved that fair and square!
    Black and White: M for Middle-earth

  4. Read Deborah's comment above and smiled. So true about your powers to push us all down rabbit holes --welcome escapes in travel-less times.
    The art work looks as intriguing as Abe's clever tricks.

  5. Your topic & posts are so interesting this year! I have two relatively new to me tarot decks I got through Kickstarter. They are both gorgeous. Now I need to learn how to read them. Seems like a life long pursuit.

    1. I am still very new to tarot myself, but I'm having fun. Which decks did you get?

  6. This seems like the best way to reach a team member. Was doing a lot of poking around on the master list today. I seem to have disappeared from the list. No emails for the team were available on the A to Z site. Can you guide me to who I can contact? Thanks!

    1. Hi Linda, I can't see a link to your blog in your profile (this is making it hard for people to visit you back). What name did you register your blog under?

  7. This sounds like a truly powerful story about a truly mighty character.

  8. I'm a fantasy writer, so magicians always have my heart. One of my own favorite characters is a magician, though she is a female.

  9. Great legend!

    Ronel visiting for the A-Z Challenge with an A-Z of Faerie: The Raven Faery: Morrígan

  10. Oh man that's a tough one to choose! Favorite magician. Okay, I am a real fan of The Magicians tv show and the one character Margo and her character arc from selfish person to person with attitude who gets stuff done. If I had to pick it would be someone like that who yeah, has magic, but they are keeping it real in how/if they use it. Love the story.

    Anne from

  11. I've never heard of this mage, but I like the legends you told abotu him. I've alwasy been fascinated with characters connected with the spirit world.

    The Old Shelter - The Great War