Chapter 8: The Magian

Zoroastrian priests, known as maguš in Old Persian or Magians in English, were known anciently for wisdom, revelation, and devotion to truth. They gained a reputation for having knowledge of astrology, which was considered an important science during that age. Zoroastrianism, also called Magianism, gradually became known throughout the old world from Greece to China. Magians are mentioned in the Quran as well as in the Gospel of Matthew’s well–known account of “wise men from the east”—called “magi” in the original Greek—who came to visit the infant Christ.

Perhaps more than any other culture, the Greeks both elevated and misunderstood the Magians. Pythagoras, the sixth century BC Greek mathematician, philosopher, and mystic, was said to have been instructed by Magians on principles of religion and how to conduct one’s life. Some believe it was they who taught him to speak the truth in all situations. By the fifth century BC, however, Greeks had come to see Magians as sorcerers, conjurers, tricksters, and charlatans. Magike became the term for the use of supernatural powers and for trickery and sleight of hand. This is the root of the modern English terms magic and magician.

In their writings, Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette use the term Magician for the archetype of knowledge, wisdom, revelation, transformation, and initiation. In my view, the persona of a magician barely covers the active shadow of this archetype and lends very little understanding to the archetype in its wholeness. This is why I’ve used the much older and broader term, Magian, as the archetype label. Over the many centuries since the founding of this religion, those who have been called by some derivative of the Old Persian term maguš—from magi to magicians—have personified every nuance of the whole archetype and his active shadow, in legend at least if not also in reality. Their reputation spans the entire realm from prophet to priest, to scientist, sorcerer, trickster, and imposter. And by illuminating the wholeness and active shadow of this archetype, they show the outline of the passive shadow as well.

When we discussed the King archetype in Chapter Two, we considered that archetype’s function as our axis mundi, by which he creates and holds our Center. The ability to know our Center is the foundation for authenticity, the second principle of growth out of same–sex attraction, and the subject of Chapter Nine. Without a clear awareness of what’s at our core, how can we know who we are? And how can we share ourselves authentically with those around us? Moreover, without knowing ourselves well and relating authentically with others, how can we heal our lives? And how can we experience healing relationships? If we’re to experience true wholeness, we must learn to live authentically. We must develop our Magian capacities.

But the Magian knows more than just our Self. It’s through the Magian capacities that we apprehend and use knowledge of all kinds—whether we use that knowledge in beneficial or destructive ways. In this chapter we’ll look at the attributes and functions of the Whole Magian and at his bipolar shadows, which are the Manipulator and the Innocent. Then we’ll review the synergistic potential that can be had by balancing his active and passive sides. Next we’ll consider the healing power of the Magian, which comes to us through initiation processes and by using his power to steward our friendships. And finally, we’ll consider a few suggestions for advancing Magian energy in our lives.


The essential mission of the Magian archetype is to help, heal, and transform—first ourselves and then the world—through our use of knowledge. As described by authors Moore and Gillette, the Magian accomplishes this mission through two main functions. First, he’s the “Possessor of Knowledge,” especially hidden or rare knowledge. And second, he’s the “Master of Transformation,” which means that he understands how to apply his knowledge to transform our lives through better ways of being.

Related to these main functions, he has some additional roles. His function as the Possessor of Knowledge brings with it a significant role of detecting corruption in his own life and the lives of those around him. His function as the Master of Transformation brings with it two additional responsibilities. The first is to initiate others, which means to teach and mentor them so that they can develop their own Magian abilities. The second is to create situations where his transforming work can be done. These situations are sometimes called “sacred space.”

(Chapter 8 comprises pages 223-266 of the book.)