This information provided by: Robert L. Johnson, Ph.D., M.Div., L.M.H.C. (FL lic # MHC 0001426), Specializing in Jungian Process (Holistic Approaches to Personal Development & Psychotherapy) Telephone: 850-948-7926
Return to: Library Articles
Black Magician as & within a Personality Disorder
The Black Magician as and within a Personality Disorder
Before getting to the dynamics of the Black Magician, let me take just a moment to discuss the Magician in general. The basic role of the Magician is to allow us to see an internal or external event from a different viewpoint. This may involve a simple change of position, or making some things that we do not see appear, or some things that we do see disappear. This can give us new perspectives, offer us psychological vehicles to which previously we had no access, or remove psychological roadblocks. We can then easily see that this archetypal tool can be very useful to us from a very early age.
The Magician may also be referred to as the Trickster, although the term Trickster is often used to describe a less conscious aspect of the Magician which is more closely associated with shadow complexes and therefore a Black Magician. At times the actions of the Trickster can simply be superfluous. At other times the supercilious nature and actions of this Mercurial archetype can foster outright contempt. In its association with Mercury we see the attributes of duality (animal/god), cunning (amusement/evil), gifts (positive/poison), quality (stupidity (innocent injury)/healer). This duality can be extended to produce what appears to be a dual personality. There is the ego, and then the complimentary or compensatory persona complex of the Trickster. Attributes of the persona Trickster have been derived from positive and negative aspects of social collectiveness. Therefore, the aspects contained within this persona image can be contradictory or at odds with each other. These attributes are commonly contained within the puer/puella complex. There is also a tendency for these aspects to talk in spiritual circles. Because of the immature contradictory components, average people tend to abandon these tricksters, especially if these others are increasing there general awareness of their overall situation. With higher awareness the trickster person themselves may finally be able to address these complexes, but without this higher insight the Trickster/Magician remains hidden. It is also interesting to note that the dynamics of the Trickster itself are mostly unconscious, and commonly do not form a unity.
Because of the nature of the service that the Magician supplies, we can also see how at times it functions in the role of the Savior, literally saving us from some problematic perspective, narrowness or stubbornness. Keep in mind that where aspects of the Savior complex are present, there is also a high probability or vulnerability to the Vampire and Victim complexes. From a purely archetypal perspective, the activation of the Black Magician as a prime player in our psyche allows it to become vampirish to the Self, and inevitably making the naive ego its victim. At times we may see a dynamic that is better described as a Savior, Vampire Victim trilogy. In relatively similar situations, we may see what is better described as the Magician/Black Magician duality. I think the labels are less important than the labels ability to accurately describe what is really going on within us.
The Magician appears as the second card in the major arcana of a tarot deck, following the Fool (or innocent). The relevance of this is to understand that, although the Black Magician may appear at any point in our development, it is capable of a very early entrance. The Magician receives information, interprets it according to need, and then feeds it back both internally and externally to reveal truths or falsehoods, depending on the need. If needs are generally met, then there is relatively normal ego-Self development. If needs are not met, the magician must find ways to at least meet survival needs through manipulation. The degree to which this must be done is the degree to which the Black Magician can be confused with the Self. Originally this dark Magician is a survival modality. I am reminded of a song from The Sound of Music with a phrase that states, "They’ve got to be taught before it’s to late, before they are 6, or7 or 8..." This is true, because if the Black Magician becomes active in pre-conscious years either through installation or adaptation, it is very difficult to uninstall, and early on it proves its worth to the developing child. i.e. It’s messages are trusted more than messages from the Self, allowing it to vampirize the Self.
The Black Magician is commonly portrayed in film as the evil witch doctor who has convinced the tribal members, from early on, that the only way to calm the volcano gods is to toss a virgin into the volcano, and not just any virgin, but the best of the virgins. Even though the new and insightful chief of the tribe sees the great potential of this woman and tells the tribe that her sacrifice will be to no avail, the tribe is afraid and uncertain. It feels its needs are in jeopardy, and a virgin or two is a small price to pay to guarantee the yearly needs of the tribe. The key point here is that the witch doctor has convinced the tribe of this. So, the witch doctor does not have to come forth and argue his case to the new chief, the tribe will do this for him. Archetypally this means that the energy behind the falsehood does not have to reveal itself to defend the falsehood. The ego will do this job for the Black Magician, because the ego has bought the skewed position of this trickster based on the role it played in an earlier survival situation. Thus, creative aspects of the ego are sacrificed to preserve a false sense of security.
Remember, the Black Magician is trying to impersonate the Self. It tends to operate behind the scenes by manipulating the Innocent to actually accomplish its work. Its bottom line interest is to keep the person from perceiving reality. i.e. actual life the way it really is. ( This is just like a bigot not wanting their child to see the accomplishments of those to whom they are prejudice.)
In looking at common approaches used by the Black Magician, it is likely that one will see some of the more passive approaches, based on energy conservation, before one sees the more energy intensive aggressive approaches. Like many shadow complexes, the Black Magician operates in the moment and tends to use what it thinks is necessary in the moment, which reveals inconsistencies (lack of unity) if a discerning person compares its actions (verbal responses) in one situation to its actions in a similar situation.
The Black Magician Using Passive Tools
The most common complex used by the Black Magician is the naive child, or Innocent. Although believed by the ego to be valid, this Innocent is a feigned complex within the persona which covers the actions of this cleverly manipulative trickster. The Innocent is really the pawn of the Black Magician. Like the Fool in the tarot deck, the Innocent can masquerade as almost any other card (complex) for at least a short period of time, by simply acting out the instructions that it has received from the Black Magician, which it misconstrues as from the Self. Of course, the Innocent does not conceptually grasp why it is acting out this script. Therefore, it has no ability to defend the script. That is why it professes ignorance when challenged and retreats to the safely of the Black Magician for further instruction. For those of you that are Star Trek fans, you have seen this motif depicted in many of the early Star Trek shows.
Through the Innocent the Black Magician is commonly trying to undermine another’s perceived power, while convincing the ego to abdicate some personal or relational or professional responsibility.
We commonly see the Innocent activated when the person is challenged with a new task or perceived obligation. If one attempts to call this Innocent to accountability, one may be met with petulance, evasiveness, veiled irritation or even abdication in the form of an emotionless "I don’t know" or a mildly appositional "I’ve never done this before". We see in the roots of these responses the person’s issues with power and abandonment. The Magician may also operated surreptitiously by playing one power source against another (i.e. boss against spouse or friend against lover) to avoid common obligations or relational responsibility. If aggressively confronted this person may react with a defensive self-acclaiming rage or seem wounded by the accusation. All of this is a personal defense set to protect the Black Magician and keep the ego from seeing the truth.
Through the Innocent, this person may claim that their issues or external situations appear more complicated than they are, especially in personal relationships, in order to confuse the other, who they perceive as having more power than they have. They may make statements like, "I’m too complicated" or "I find you intimidating" to cover the ego’s repressed feelings of frustration and envy. They also tend to project their personal shadow fears by claiming others are being too demanding or on power trips, when the other is simply making normal relational requests.
I remember a relationship that I was in about 20 years ago. It was a relatively new romantic relationship even though I had know the woman fairly well for a couple of years. I suggested that I wanted to see her 2 or 3 times a week. She told me that was impossible as she had many obligations and had to be in bed by 9 PM to get up in time to be at her 9 AM banking job. When I responded with, "Maybe then a couple of times a week, including a one weekday evening?" She responded that I was being too demanding and did not understand the value of her time. Fortunately for me, she was very open to looking at these issues and we ended up having a delightful 7 year relationship.
From an emotional perspective, the Black Magician is able to gain control in the personality due to a deep seated anger and fear of abandonment. The anger is driven by a sense of lack of relational fulfillment, which also generates envy. Anger is used to distance people when more passive approaches fail. Envy (the experience of internal intimidation) is used to distance people when all is going well in a relationship. The fear of abandonment is driven by the experience of the actual people (commonly their mother, or possibly a lover) who failed to grant them acceptance as a person. Fear is used by the Black Magician to convince the naive ego that it, and not an external other, is the ego’s best long term bet and only sure bet not to abandon the ego. One way of maintaining this control is for the Black Magician to keep the technical ego vulnerable through a personal sense feeling unworthy or undeserving. These people commonly feel that everything has to be earned, including and especially love. They tend to denigrate their personal abilities outside of an area of expertise, and almost never take risks for fear of failure or being judged. They often experience others as untrustworthy and possibly even desiring to harm them. Revealing their dual nature, they also feel that "everyone is basically good" and cannot really imagine another holding ill intentions toward them, or anyone else. The shattering of this belief is synonymous with the destruction of themselves, since if everyone is not good, perhaps they are not good.
As mentioned above, even in potential good relationships, those held captive by the Black Magician will inevitably betray the other through their actions or verbal innuendo out of the inner feelings of envy for imagined power the other is perceived to hold. Even more deeply set in their psyche than the Black Magician is a part of them that has an intense need to be nurtured and loved and accepted and cared for, etc. The Black Magician has convinced their ego that this is really not going to happen, and that they are better off sticking with the Magician who will at least minimize the pain of their lost potential. To minimize the pain, all energies are brought forth to protect the Black Magician at any time that it might be threatened. If this barrier (defense) is challenged, the person will experience increased anxiety. If seriously challenged, they may experience acute anxiety, and may develop a depression.
Sexual dynamics are also manipulated by the Black Magician, and sexuality associated with attachment is mostly repressed. Since they tend to be naive regarding their own sexual motivations, sexuality becomes justified within the framework of the momentary need by whatever tool or thought the Black Magician has at it’s disposal. So, great passion can turn into great distance and via verse over very short periods of time.
This person may also have difficulties with space and time issues. They tend to use externals to structure both space and time. Possibly another person. Possibly a set or rigid duties, or a rigid schedule. Possibly the organization of their tool room or kitchen or furniture. Even minor changes in these structures for brief periods of time can cause them noticeable stress.
The Black Magician Using Active Aggressive Tools
When the more passive defensive approaches seem to fail, anger may erupt, but it will be guised in secretive or elusive behavior. Aggression tends to be verbal and cloaked in intellectualized and obscure statements. There is always denial of manipulative motivations. Accurate self appraisal becomes almost impossible as the Black Magician manipulates interpretations to fool the ego into defending it rather than accurately assessing reality. This person’s claim of independence is an exaggerated compensation for an inner sense of uncertainty. I actually had a person under this trickster tell me that, "Boundaries in romantic relationships are good because they prevent one from becoming co-dependent." Of course, not only is this not true, but it is a perfect way for the Black Magician to protect itself from an infiltrator who could dismantle it’s illusion by its mere presence. Now, through instruction from the Black Magician and characterized by this naive and inflated self-image, the Innocent will often display, either in jest or seriousness, pretentious self assurances and exaggerations of achievements and talents. They may exploit others to enhance themselves and indulge their personal desires.
The Black Magician may use to Innocent to portray an inflated persona complex that appears nonchalant and cooly unimpressionable, which is quite opposite the passive approach. This grandiose character will display a supercilious imperturbability, except when the Magician feels threatened.
The Black Magician is also capable of denying ego access to the person’s full range of cognitive or emotional potentials which may hinder the development of close or warm relationships. They often prefer to concentrate their energies on hobbies or pursuits that do not include close relationships with other people. The Black Magician’s ability to make them feel cut off from their own lives, sometimes described by the people themselves as, "It is like living behind a glass wall." keeps them dependent on the Black Magician. Here this dark trickster manifests an avoidance of intimacy. Libido energies are expressed in ways that isolate and alienate. This may ultimately dehumanize both the person and their perspective human contacts.