One Card Weekends: The Fool

Sorry for my delay in posting this week’s card; Tall Dude and I went to St Thomas Friday, and I ended up completely exhausted, so today was a day of recovery.

This week’s card is the Fool, the first card of the major arcana, numbered 0 in most modern decks. He symbolizes complete innocence and the very beginning of the journey. Below is the image from the Rider-Waite-Smith deck:

Rider-Waite-Smith Fool

The following commentary on the Fool is taken from The Pictorial Key to the Tarot by A. E. Waite, creator (along with artist Pamela Colman-Smith) of the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, as reproduced at Sacred Texts:

With light step, as if earth and its trammels had little power to restrain him, a young man in gorgeous vestments pauses at the brink of a precipice among the great heights of the world; he surveys the blue distance before him-its expanse of sky rather than the prospect below. His act of eager walking is still indicated, though he is stationary at the given moment; his dog is still bounding. The edge which opens on the depth has no terror; it is as if angels were waiting to uphold him, if it came about that he leaped from the height. His countenance is full of intelligence and expectant dream. He has a rose in one hand and in the other a costly wand, from which depends over his right shoulder a wallet curiously embroidered. He is a prince of the other world on his travels through this one-all amidst the morning glory, in the keen air. The sun, which shines behind him, knows whence he came, whither he is going, and how he will return by another path after many days. He is the spirit in search of experience. Many symbols of the Instituted Mysteries are summarized in this card, which reverses, under high warrants, all the confusions that have preceded it.

The Fool represents new beginnings, stepping out into the unknown, and accepting new ideas. If you take it too far, it can be a bad thing, but to be open to new things is an important part of progressing in life. There’s an old saying that God looks after fools and little children, and this guy is within a hair of stepping off a cliff, and he’s just happy as a little clam. He assumes he’ll land on his feet, and so he will. I see this card as an encouragement to take the first step in changing one’s own life, of starting on a new journey.

As with every card, he does have a shadow side. With childlike innocence comes childlike immaturity, and this is what gets him in trouble. Just because we don’t know something doesn’t mean that we don’t need to. He can also talk about intoxication, vanity, and total irresponsibility.

There is a theory that the major arcana all symbolize events in the life and spiritual development, referred to as the “fool’s journey.” I’ll touch on that further as other Major Arcana cards come up, but for now, I’ll refer you to The Fool’s Journey at LearnTarot.com, which breaks it down beautifully.

Anytime I see the card come up in a reading, I see it as new things coming, changes to be embraced without fear, and the beginning of a new chapter in the querent’s life. That which is new is not always a bad thing, and one shouldn’t be afraid to have fun with life!

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