Yes, the Tarot Deck and Gym Culture Do Mix

September 24, 2019 4 min read

By Johnny Gayzmonic
LED Queens Blog Contributor

Spirituality and fitness are two aspects of life that don’t always get paired together. Even yoga, at least in many Western practices, gets mostly stripped of a great deal of its spiritual components. That might be why I was a little surprised to one day find gear on the LED Queens site featuring a revision of the Magician card from the tarot, a metaphysical and philosophical practice I’d been taking part in for decades. How is a tarot card related to strength training?

Before we go any further, a relatively quick primer on tarot: Tarot is a deck of 78 cards that many people use as a spiritual and intuitive tool. While some use it for trying to get a glimpse into the future, many use it as a gateway for accessing the wisdom of the universe and of the human collective experience. It’s both a spiritual tool and a psychological one; Carl Jung even believed that the tarot could be used to understand archetypes and the human condition. 

The deck itself divided into two sets: the major arcana and the minor arcana. The minor arcana is structured very similar to a deck of playing cards with four suits and series of court cards. The major arcana is a set of 22 cards numbered 0 to 21. The minors represent more of the day-to-day aspects of life, while the majors represent powerful archetypes and energies. Many see the major arcana as a journey of self-discovery going from the innocence and naivety of The Fool (Card 0) to the maturity and completion of The World (Card 21).

The Magician is the second major arcana card, officially bearing the number 1. It symbolizes potential, personal power, manifestation, and having the talent to get the job done. You could even say it’s about being number one. It also represents masculine energy, the kind of energy that seeks the answers by doing and going out into the world. In the traditional tarot (the Rider-Waite-Smith deck), the Magician is seen with a table full of things that represent all four elements. Above his head is the symbol for infinity. This is a man of power, one who has the very elements at his disposal to achieve his goals, never mind all of space.

But how does this tie in to weight lifting and bodybuilding and fitness? Well, to quote a conversation I recently had with Cesar Torres, the founder and designer of LED Queens, “I really do believe that the body and the mind are basically the same thing…Whatever we feel is going on with our psyche, good or bad, is sometimes reflected by what’s going on with our bodies, good or bad.”

In other words, that powerful potential energy that the Magician represents isn’t solely mental or spiritual. It can help fuel our physical strength, as well. It’s using, as Torres says, “the archetypal images of the Tarot help express what’s going on with the mind and body.”

The Magician is a card of balance and synthesis in many ways. The Magician knows how to harness his talents properly to manifest his goals. That same kind of approach to fitness, that same dedication to balance and discipline, can help drive us to our strength and physique goals. And getting to those goals can in turn help us discover more balance in the other aspects of our lives.

The LED Queens version of the Magician makes this mind-body connection a little more obvious than the traditional depiction of the card. The Magician’s tools have been replaced with a gym bunny’s equivalent. A cup, disk, sword, and staff are now a shake bottle, a weight plate, a barbell, and a dumbbell. The Magician himself — Torres’ original character and LED Queens mascot Pablito — flexes while dressed in workout gear (the Darkwave Tights and the Magician Hoodie from the Gym Tarot Collection). This is a Magician of strength, whose power is both internal and external. In fact, those two powers reflect and magnify each other.

"Pablito brings a lot of balance, a lot of proportions of [things] like bodybuilding that I think bring harmony. I thought, he’s perfect for the Magician card,” Torres said. Indeed, Pablito as the Magician represents not only the synthesis and manifestation that the Magician card portends but also how the card is just the start of a journey that leads to our goal. He is both mentor and student, still on his own journey but serving as an inspiration for others.

So placing him on the front of a tank top primarily meant to be worn for working out makes a great deal of sense in that context. It’s an invocation of the potential of the Magician card, channeled through the idea of turning that potential into strength. Making manifest in the real world what we desire and dream of in our minds. It’s a syncing of mind and body that aims for the balance and power that helps turn each and every one of us into our own strong, flexing Magician.

Johnny Gayzmonic is a writer, musician, film critic, and self-professed spandex enthusiast who lives, works, and lifts weights in Minneapolis, MN. Find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @johnnygayzmonic.