Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Analysis: The Fool

The Fool is the first card of the standard Tarot deck; it is iconic in that it marks the beginning of a journey. When beginning the study of the Tarot, it only makes sense to begin with the card that most completely captures beginnings, journeys, and potential.

It is important to note that while the Fool is the first card, its number is actually 0. This is not an oversight on the part of the creators; it's a very intentional choice with a lot of meaning packed into it. 0 holds a lot of meaning. In all the references I could find, people talked about the inherent nothingness of the zero, but they also mentioned the contained potential. The zero has a strange connection to infinity, and in such, it gives that meaning to the Fool. He has infinite potential, and while he may be a blank slate, he is ready to embark on his path.

This idea of nothingness is perhaps illustrated more clearly in the Linestrider deck, which is what I have always used for my readings. With the face left blank and the body unfinished, we see that there is much to be discovered about the personality of the Fool. As he moves from the first sphere of the Kabbalah (The Crown, or potential) and into the second sphere (Wisdom, or intention), he will become more aware and his personality will begin to take shape.

When I first sat down with this card, my goal was to take my very basic understanding of its meaning and just right down all the observations I could make, especially those specific to the Linestrider interpretation. At first, I was worried that I would not be able to pick much up. However, it became very clear to me that when I open myself up to the messages of the cards, they are eager to tell me.

The term which kept coming to mind was "blind faith". This speaks to many of the commonly understood meanings of the Fool: naivety, optimism, confidence, etc. It is also compounded by the fact that the face of the Fool is blank and therefore quite literally blind. Despite the positive outlook of this card, it warns of overconfidence and recklessness: we see the Fool in most interpretations about to step off of a cliff. His ignorance may be blissful, but it may also be his downfall.

It stood out to me that there are few colors on this card, and that their placement is odd. The Fool himself is left white, a color signifying innocence and purity. However, his few possessions are colored. The bird and the sack are both blue, which felt to me as though blue was representing freedom. Blue is the color of the unending sky and the waters of the world; optimism abounds and movement is key. Meanwhile, the flowers in his left hand and the feather in his cap are red. To me, this very clearly speaks of passion and energy. The Fool is ready to leave his comfort zone and explore new horizons. However, the flower petals that fall behind him speak to the fact that as he gains new insights, he rejects older ideas and parts of himself and embraces new ones. Ultimately, he is open-minded towards everything he encounters. He is determined to reach his goal, even if he does not yet know what that goal is.

Finally, I was struck by the fact that the Fool seems almost to be defined by his circumstances. The only colors surrounding him are of things not a part of him. They are his material possessions, or his companion. The Fool has not yet gained the understanding which forms his person. Until then, he is bound to the wills of the world.

The Fool in the upright position has both positive and negative qualities, which I think is an interesting way to begin our Tarot experience. However, the negative qualities are only amplified if the Fool is found in the reversed position. This warns of irresponsibility or reckless behavior. Perhaps even mental illness. Instability is a major risk when you venture into the unknown and the reversal of the Fool can be a sign that the risk is greater than the reward. However, the reversal doesn't have to be so dark. In some readings, the reversed Fool may just be telling you to let go of anxieties which may be holding you back from taking the leap of faith.

In many ways, the Fool is the "Go for it" card! In readings, the Fool most often represents a journey which could or should be taken. The Fool seeks to escape situations where he feels tethered, and refuses to be held back. And while the Fool has his fair share of character flaws, he is still one of the most promising cards to pull in a Tarot reading.

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