A while back, we took a look at the Temperance tarot card and how you might use its gentle energy in a beneficial way. Today we’re taking a look at the Fool and its unique role in the tarot. The Fool has Major Arcana Super Powers, and although he seems to have his place at the beginning of the tarot, in truth he is nowhere and everywhere. He represents the beginning before it has begun.
The Indefinable Fool
Why would the Fool be before the beginning? The Fool card is zero. It should have no number at all because it is outside of the progression of the Major Arcana. The Fool can appear everywhere and nowhere. If we were to veer off into a little scientific digression, the Fool can be likened to a particle that can appear in two places at once. It can be a particle or a wave form depending on who is looking. It can also twinkle in and out of existence. The Fool is amorphous and, try as we might, we are unable to pin it down.
This gives you a clue to the function of the Fool in tarot. The Fool represents you, me and everyone. He travels along a path called ‘Life’, yet life includes birth, death, conception, reincarnation and non-earthly existence. The Fool passes through all these stages and not in any particular order. There is nothing orderly or organized about this card.
Imagery of the Fool
The Fool is a beautifully clothed young man, head in the air, about to step off a cliff. A small dog nips at his heels trying to attract his attention, but the Fool is oblivious. We have no way of telling if he is about to step into an abyss, or if the drop is a mere foot down. Over one shoulder he hefts a staff, to which is tied a small bundle. The sky is golden and a snow-capped mountain range sits in the distance.
Symbolism of the Fool
There has been much written about the symbolism in the Fool card, so we’re not going to examine it in too much detail. The Rider-Waite Fool walks lightly but purposefully, yet it is clear he has no purpose. He travels for the sheer pleasure of moving from one place to another. His possessions are few so he is not weighed down or inconvenienced by them. His little dog acts both as a warning and as encouragement.
If you examine the card carefully you will see all four elements of the suits shown in the card. Wands, as inspired action, is represented by the staff over his shoulder. Cups as frozen water, snow atop the distant mountains. Swords as the sharp mountain peaks representing the intellect and Pentacles as earth; the ground he walks upon. Some people suggests that the Fool carries the tools of the Magician in his bundle, but no-one knows for sure.
Energy of the Fool Card
The energy of the tarot Fool card is an unthinking acceptance. He does not assess or judge. The Fools doesn’t attempt to change anything. He follows his whims without even thinking about it. Fool is an observer of what is. He trusts that all is well in his world and has no influence, no sense of injustice. To him there are no polarities: no good/evil, right/wrong, black/white, or yes/no. He lets things be without trying to influence them.
Applying the Tarot Fool to Situations
As we did with our examination of Temperance, take a step back and think about the dilemma or issue that you are facing right now. Try to visualize it as a single image. Now imagine overlaying that image with a transparency of the Fool. Or, if it helps, have the Fool card enlarged in your mind and place it next to the ‘trouble’.
How might the energy of the Fool impact your problem? What if you were to do nothing in this situation except let it be? Or perhaps what you need to to is follow your guidance and leap off the cliff? Take a risk and deal with the consequences later. How about if you let the situation go completely?
The Fool will never tell you what to do, how to act or behave. He doesn’t advise or ask you to copy his example. That’s up to you. He does show you that you have choices and that one of those choices is to do nothing, to not attempt to influence the outcome. Maybe, this time you need to place your trust in the Universe and divert yourself with something else?
An excellent way to absorb the lesson of the Fool, is to place the card down face up and draw another card at random. Interpret the card through the lens of the Fool. Lets try some examples:
The Fool and the Eight of Wands
The Eight of Wands is about as diametrically opposed to the Fool as it’s possible to be. The Eight of Wands is all about hurry, hurry. Getting organized. Doing stuff. Taking action. Things happening fast. When adjusted by the Fool card, it seems to hint that you need to slow down, take a little time to ‘be’. To trust that everything is working out just as it should.
The Fool and the Seven of Swords
Look at all the common elements in these two cards. The figure in the Seven of Swords takes a risk, but it is a calculated one. Yet like the Fool he is not looking ahead at the consequences of his actions. The Seven of Swords is a double-edged card. It can hint at theft and deceit, yet it can also encourage you to take back what belongs to you. When we look at it through the perspective of the Fool, we are looking at it in its pure sense. Actions taken at this time are not to be judged as wrong or bad. Their meaning will become clear in due course and may not be what you perceive them to be.
The Fool and the Devil
The Devil card represents unhelpful patterns of behavior and thought. Patterns that are not helpful and may be concerning those who care. The seeker shackles themselves to the idea of making money, or addicted to something bad such as overeating, alcohol or drugs. The Fool card, as usual, does not tell you to unshackle yourself, or to dive in and help another whom you judge to be doing themselves harm. For now, let it be because they will come to their own understanding eventually. As will you.
May you take on the light-hearted, go-with-the-flow energy of the beautiful Fool. Have a ‘Fool-filled’ day.