Yes, I know: it’s irrelevant now, but I wonder why I began with the Magician. After all, The Fool precedes him. He’s either unnumbered, or numbered 0. But why be conventional? The Fool wouldn’t care one way or the other, in fact he’d probably be keen to be placed just about anywhere except the expected place.

0_Fool

The Fool is the unusual, the insane, the outsider. He brings with him chaos, even madness. If he arrives in your reading, you might be the sort of person who would grin and nod, welcoming him in and living with the layers of disorder he brings with him, but quite often his appearance brings with it a sharp intake of breath as the client immediately starts trying to identify exactly what it is they’ve done that’s particularly stupid.

But of course the card isn’t about stupidity – or only very rarely, and even then I would expect it to be reversed. It’s usually about taking risks, a leap into the unknown, or being prepared to see outside the box. The Fool is traditionally pictured jumping off a cliff while a small dog (symbol of faithfulness) tries to keep him from succeeding. So it can be about a new path, not safe but exciting, where we can test our mettle to the fullest, reaching out to the highest we can attain … or falling into the chasm below (but even then, if we survive, we’ll have learnt a huge amount). We might expect to see paradoxical, contradictory events or personality traits. And sometimes the appearance of The Fool can be a goad to take uncomfortable decisions.

Reversed, it can be a warning that pitfalls lie ahead. Or that some faulty decision needs to be rethought. It often points out a reckless, thoughtless approach that could easily result in major problems – the sort of ‘act first think later’ attitude that our western culture is so good at.

Still, I love The Fool. He started my long journey of discovery through the Tarot. You may well have heard the story before but I’ll tell it again (the Fool loves to do this – he doesn’t care if you’ve heard it 10 or 20 times before, he likes telling it!!!

I was doodling one night, idly, in front of the television (as one does) and, looking down, I discovered I’d actually drawn The Fool – but a very different being from the familiar figure I knew from decks I had seen previously. His eyes were extraordinary – a bit mad, and yet deep, deep like the ocean. I painted the drawing to see if the magic stayed; and it did (see above). I found him so compelling I decided to go on to see if I could produce an equally interesting Magician … and then I did Justice … and Strength, and eight years later, I had a full tarot deck. So, as far as I’m concerned, the Fool is the door to a wider, richer universe.

That’s the deeper aspect of this wonderful archetype: the Wise Fool. In the book of The Intuitive Tarot, he’s placed both at the beginning and at the end of the Major Arcana: Alpha and Omega. In this guise, he’s the stage past The World – one stage past the culmination of the journey. We might see him as the numinous soul, the transparent, all-knowing innocent. The Beatles sang about him in The Fool on the Hill, Stanley Kubrick depicted him at the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey. We don’t encounter his like very often, unfortunately. When we do, we either kill them, or fete them. Usually the former.