This post is the first of many in a series named, “Tarot Tuesday.” Every other Tuesday I will post a new little gem about Tarot. It will include questions to ask the cards, spreads, how to read, how to tap into your intuition, card meanings, numerology, astrology, theories, history, best practices, and so on.
Tarot Tuesday Card:
Today our post is on the Major Arcana card, The Fool. “Arcana” translates to “secret” and each card is considered a key. There are 78 cards in a Tarot deck, divided by two Arcana groups, the major and the minor. The Major Arcana, also known as “Trump” cards, are concentrated around big life decisions, developmental milestones, ingrained personality traits, and major events in the seeker’s life. There are 22 Major Arcana cards, ranging from 0 (The Fool) to 21 (The World). Each Major arcanum (singular for Arcana) corresponds with universal archetypes which have been known across all cultures throughout the history of humankind. The Major Arcana is the journey of The Fool. As he progresses through each card he learns valuable lessons until he finally completes his journey (and then presumably begins all over again, similar to the concept of reincarnation). The Major Arcana are futher broken down into three planes – the physical, mental, and spiritual. Our hero, The Fool, begins on the physical plane, journeys through the mental, and ends in the spiritual. This coincides with many other spiritual philosophies such as the Charkras and Kosha Maya.
There are 56 Minor Arcana cards which represent daily life and elements of the human condition. I will go into more depth about these and how they are categorized in next week’s post.
Back to our card for today, The Fool! This card as I mentioned already, is key #0, it is the cosmic egg; the beginning. I have chosen this card specifically for today as we set out on our Tarot Tuesdays journey together. Some readers like to put The Fool at the end of their Major Arcana sequence because after the completion of the journey is reached (The World card), the cycle begins again. That The Fool is numbered 0 is significant, it is a circle that doesn’t end. In the following sections we will look into the symbolism and upright and reversed meanings for The Fool.
The Fool: meaning and symbols
We will be discussing symbolism and imagery based on the Rider Waite Smith (RWS) deck which many decks are based off of as it is widely considered to be the standard today. I will talk about it’s history in a following post.
We see a young man, The Fool, who has set off on a journey on a bright sunny day. It can be assumed that this may have been his first expedition judging by his garments and young age. Those flimsy shoes would be a poor choice for walking long distances and his clothing is flamboyant and not well-suited for traveling by foot (those sleeves are going to get caught on everything). He has tied a bundle to a stick to bring on his journey. It is worth noting the symbolism of the size of the sack – not much at all is needed to go on a spiritual journey, leave your attachments behind. Many students of Tarot speculate what might be in that bag. Is it empty so that he can collect things along the way? Does it hold the four talismans of the of the Minor Arcana? Maybe it’s just a sandwich for when he gets hungry or a change of clothes when he decides to dress more sensibly for a trek.
It is very important that you come to your own conclusion about a card’s imagery. As your intuition grows your first instinctual reaction will make much more sense to you.
I suggest meditating on this card and what was in the bundle. What was your first immediate thought when you looked at it? Your first instincts are tied to your intuition, so its important to note. I remember immediately thinking it was a change of clothes. Now, having studied Tarot for so long, this makes so much sense to me. As he matures on his journey he might change into more comfortable clothing. I do not think he had the talismans at this point, but many Tarot readers do. I personally feel that he collected them in the next card, The Magician, which we will talk about in a following post. It is very important that you come to your own conclusion about a card’s imagery. As your intuition grows your first instinctual reaction will make much more sense to you.
The white rose: represents purity, innocence and new beginnings. It also represents a clear and empty mind, a beginner’s mind.
The dog: represents divine protection. Also interpreted by some to be self-preservation. The dog warns The Fool of the upcoming cliff – depending on your views it could be self preservation or divine protection which intervenes to save him.
The white sun: this sun is bright and high, filling all shadows with light and spreading positivity and optimism throughout the fool’s field of vision. It is the enlightenment that he is seeking.
The red feather in his cap: The Fool’s life force, also known as prana, qi, chi.
The cliff: stepping off into the unknown
The black rod: slung over his shoulder represents a burden that all humans must bare as part of the human condition. Rods are also thought of as spiritual energy.
His gaze: upward at the heavens, head in the clouds.
Mountain top: he is standing on a high mountain cliff, showcasing that he is on a sort of liberating spiritual high.
Yellow boots: confidence in his step and where he is headed, even if he has no idea where that is.
Interpreting the fool in a reading
This is the card of new beginnings, when the lovable Fool sets off on his journey with a bounce in his jovial strides. The fool is amazed and delighted with everything around him, showcasing his bright and youthful curiosity. This card represents a person who is ready to take a leap of faith and being that it is a Major Arcana card, it is a significant event which will initiate the start of a particular life path at that point in time. The Fool represents pure potential power, energy that has not taken form but will begin to take shape once the seeker takes that leap of faith. It represents a clean slate, beginning new projects, and limitless potential. This is also a card that represents good, dumb luck! If this represents a person, it could be someone who has their head in the clouds or is starting a new opportunity. In a relationship reading The Fool often represents the beginning of a new relationship and advises the seeker to jump right in! It could also signify a couple together taking on a new project, or, depending on surrounding cards it could also represent one party going their own way because other opportunities are beckoning. In career readings, this card advises boldness and taking the lead on new projects. As a person, it could represent someone leaving home and going out into the world for the first time. All in all, The Fool is about having faith and jumping right in!
- New beginnings
- A clean slate
- Blissful ignorance
- Untethered/ not restricted
- Clear conscience
Reversals often have a nearly opposite meaning to it’s upright position, but not always. In some instances reversals can have the same meaning as the upright but to a lesser degree. In terms of The Fool, the reversed card can mean one of two things. It could mean not moving forward out of not knowing exactly how to or what is the next right step, or, it could mean stepping foolishly into something and being reckless. If the seeker has been reckless and not thinking through their decisions, it’s still early enough in their journey to turn around and take the other fork in the path. It could represent someone who is not taking responsibility for their karma and repeating the same mistakes. If, on the other hand, the seeker is too timid and frozen to move forward, they are advised to muster up their courage and go forward anyway because it helps nothing by staying stagnant.
When representing a person, this card in reversed usually points to someone who is naive, superficial, materialist, reckless, or thrill-seeking.
It can represent a person who left home with an abrupt or rash departure. If the card comes up reversed in a financial reading, it is advised that the seeker be more mindful of spending and spread out their resources. In a love reading, this can represent someone with cold feet or someone who is blinded by an issue that they refuse to let go of.
Key Points, Scenario 1:
- Not knowing what to do next
- Poor planning
- Afraid to take risks
- Low-self confidence
- Not having faith
- Anxiety and/or timidity
- Cold Feet
Key Points, Scenario2:
- Risk taker
- Materialistic and vain
- Lack of understanding of Divinity
- Over spending
- Not learning from past mistakes
- Oblivious of Karma