When we see the Magician in a spread either by itself (as we draw one card) or in a spread where by which we seek the cards around the Magician for further clarification it generally is showing us that we are in a sense discovering magick be it will power, faith in prayer, or actual ritual magick to obtain the goals we want in life. As the Fool was located between Keter and Chokmak, the Magician is located between Keter and Binah. Binah on the Tree of Life is Understanding. So the Magician represents our ability to take that knowledge we were exposed to in the Fool and making meaning of it.
This is the point at which the warning label clearly flashes the yellow light in our direction. We can think of this two fold. The wise magician takes their time learning their new skills and using them appropriately. A seasoned Magician such as Gandalf or an older Meryln would come to mind when using magick appropriately. The brash magician, or hence apprentice such as in the Sorcerer's Apprentice where when left alone in the Magician's parlor creates massive chaos that he cannot control is the warning to use self-control. Knowing when to use magick and when not to use magick is key. We may wish for that new job, but knowing just how quickly to proceed is wise. One would not just quit his current job without having another one lined up if one had a family to take care. The wise magician understands the consequences of his actions be they good or bad.
The Magician like any card does depend greatly upon what the surrounding cards in the spread may be, as well as the question posed, but it is a card of self-control and study. It is the card of understanding, and not just a “I read the label”, but an in-depth understanding of knowing something inside and out before one uses it. It is the card of knowing when to use one's magick/skills and when to use another means to accomplish the goal.
The Magician represents obtaining knowledge through work/study where as the Fool represents obtaining knowledge directly from the Divine or through Divine inspiration. We can compare the two by looking at the Fool (or Divine Fool) as the Mystic, where as the the Magician is the Magus. When the Magician is pulled we can expect that we will have to work and study for our creations, they will not simply be revealed through Divine contact. We can expect that regardless the question at hand that we ourselves will create our outcome.
Questions: Do you see yourself as an alchemist experimenting with life, and how do you see the Magician? Do you see him as a manipulating elements or a co-creator of the Divine?