The Fool

The Fool Thoth
“The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.”
― William Shakespeare, As You Like It
  • Elemental trump of Air
  • Hebrew Letter: Aleph (ox)

Key Words: openness, trust; ready to take a risk; courage to stand your ground; freedom, independence; creativity; great potential; possibility to take a quantum leap; listening to the heart’s voice. (From Gerd Ziegler’s Tarot: Mirror of the Soul)

Indications: You are ready for a new beginning, perhaps even a quantum leap. Give in, dare to leap, even if fear attempts to hold you back. Trust the voice from within your heart.

Questions: What is the »tiger of fear« for you? How do you imagine the courageous leap into the new? What does it look like? Where does your heart call you to go?

Suggestion: Draw other cards for the above questions if their answers are not clear for you.

Affirmation: I now follow my heart. I am open, and ready to go wherever it may lead me.

The Fool is both the first and the last card of the Major Arcana, depending upon which way you look at it. According to Richard Cavendish, author of The Black Arts, “If [the cards] are followed downwards from the top of the [Cabalistic] Tree, they show the evolution of the universe from God to Man. In the opposite order, starting from the foot of the Tree, they are the way of the soul’s ascent to God” (p.99). It is my intention on this 78 journey through the tarot deck to learn the cards in a way that is meaningful to me, but to also ground my understanding in the studies and wisdom that has come before me. In this way, I feel the Fool to be the perfect place to begin my journey, particularly on the first day of the year.

In Lon Milo DuQuette’s Understanding Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot, he writes: “In essence, there are not twenty-two trumps, there is only one―the Fool” (p.97). In this sense, the Fool represents the entire journey through the trumps, neither first nor last, but zero, encompassing all the cards. In this way, the Fool is not a jester of medieval conception but the greatest trickster of the universe. DuQuette continues, ” The fool propounds the ultimate riddle…The Fool is more than God. The Fool is the nothing we refer to when we say “Nothing created God.” Cameo Victor identifies three stages of the Fool: the Innocent, the Wise, and the Enlightened. I ‘m also reminded of the saying “From ashes to ashes, and dust to dust,” so too do we begin as the Fool and return to the Fool as well.

The Rider-Waite deck’s depiction is that of a young man, boyish and good looking, approaching the edge of a cliff, seemingly oblivious to the danger in front of him. In his left hand he holds a flower, and in his right, a stick with a satchel tied to it. A small, white dog stands on its hind legs, gazing at its master with seeming both affection and concern.

The Fool is both the unwary traveler about to fall to his demise and the learned, joyful magus ready to step into the great beyond. In this second interpretation, I can’t help but think of the journey of Dean Corso in Roman Polanski’s film The Ninth Gate as he enters into the unknown at the end of the film, or this interpretation from spudsonfire at deviantART:the_fool_tarot_card_by_spudsonfire-d35d9f3I won’t go into the excruciating details of the Thoth version’s use of symbolism, but I will point out the sun and moon near the bottom of the card, especially considering that the sun is covering the character’s genitalia. It seems that the Fool offers a joyous union of one’s dual nature, a place both inside and out of time, of beginnings and endings, but also what comes before and after. I’ll leave you with this final line from Crowley’s Book of Thoth: “Be neither man nor woman, but both in one.”
Lelandra also offers quite a nice overview and collection of images.
For an interesting take on zero, I recommend Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea

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