Cards by Brian Froud
Book by Jessica Macbeth

The Sage
Portrait by Brian Froud
© Painting copyright 2000 by Brian Froud
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of the artist.

Card 19. The Sage

Wisdom. Hidden knowledge. Retreat. Old age. Patience.

The Sage is also the shaman. Not all wise men are shamans and not all shamans are wise men, but this one is both--power informed by wisdom and wisdom made manifest by power. This is also the face of Father Time, and we see the colors of the seasons surrounding him. Sometimes, he is Old Man of the Mountain, the hermit who searches within for wisdom and understanding--and then is willing to share it with any true seeker who comes to him.
His "blind" eye enables him to look into other worlds, other realms, and the wisdom buried deeply within each of us, where the Singers dwell. He has reached a stage of life where he has let go of many of the activities of younger beings, retreated somewhat from the outer world of Faery, and has become more deeply immersed in the inner landscapes of knowledge, inner vision, contemplation, and spirit. On the exterior, he lives simply, almost austerely, but his inner world is filled to overflowing with richness.
In order to pursue his studies more thoroughly, the Sage has cultivated detachment. Some may see this as remoteness or coldness but he is no less loving for that. The Sage finds the inner connections between everything. He sees the connections, relationships and consequences between seemingly separate ideas, beings, and things.
Love and compassion are the inevitable consequences of seeing truly, and this leads the Sage to share his learning with others. Like any other wise elder, he leads by gently teaching from his vast store of wisdom. When asked for his judgement about something, he is discriminating and generous-hearted. He turns a blind eye to punishment, feeling that what is needed is mercy and a way of teaching those who err so they will not make the same mistakes again.
The Sage is constantly learning. While on the one hand he values tradition and stability, he also understands and values the need for growth and change. He can't go for a walk or a flight around the neighborhood without discovering something new and trying to see how it fits into the whole. He is always expanding his understanding of reality and deepening his awareness.
As we develop patience and compassion intertwined, we manifest the wisdom of the Sage.

Starter Reading
Here we see wisdom and deep inner understanding. One of the keys of wisdom is to organize, integrate, and simplify one's thoughts. Complexity often leads to confusion; simplicity is to be valued. This card signifies mental discipline informed by balanced learning and compassion. Tradition is valued but appropriate change is accepted. The Sage knows when to let go and when to move on. He knows when to retreat and think things over. He compassionately and wisely shares his knowledge with others, teaching by example as well as by precept. The scales of justice are balanced in the Sage's hands.

Reversed
When the wisdom of the Sage is blocked, artificial or inappropriate boundaries are set between different aspects of life. we become unable to apply learning in one sphere to other aspects of life. Or information is withheld, kept secret when it could benefit others--which in turn would benefit us. Sometimes learning is blocked by the belief that we already have all the answers, but we never actually do.
Twisted, the Sage's accumulation of facts and information becomes unwisdom--knowledge misused and distorted, facts distorted for selfish purposes, information used to the detriment of others. There is always a risk of this when we set out to "prove" something rather than to discover something. Other twists include being excessively critical, being cold and uncaring, or being cynical or embittered. These are all faults of balance.
At its worst, knowledge and experience is channelled toward the destruction of the self or others.

A personal view:

The Sage is an old friend of mine from way back. He has guided me through many "interesting times" in my life, and yet I have never learned to feel fully at ease with him. He is too wise to be comfortable. With his blind eye, he sees things too clearly - and tends to burst my soap bubbles of unreality. I love him, love him so much, but how can I feel comfortable with someone who sees so clearly into me, into my life?
So... I find him a little scary, but that is not his fault. It is the parts of me that feel unlovable or unworthy that feel that way. And he brings those parts to my attention to encourage me to allow healing into myself. His wisdom is not only abstract and objective. It can also be very personal.
He is the sun of autumn, warm and giving, compassionate - yet with a distance and coolness that fosters objectivity. Though he is setting into the chill winter and the eventual rebirth of spring, his fire still burns brightly. And part of what it does is to burn away the traumas and confusions of the past, allowing the ash to blow away on the wind, purifying. I just need to be open to it, accepting, in order to get everything that I need.

The first part of this page, the quote on the Sage from Faeries' Oracle, is
© copyright 2000 by Jessica Macbeth and Brian Froud. All rights reserved.
"A personal view" is © copyright 2001 by Jessica Macbeth. All rights reserved