What does the Fool card in Tarot represent?
The Fool tarot card is an interesting one, and one that routinely goes overlooked by beginners. When the fool turns up in a reading, it is true that it can signify foolishness...or just as likely... a leap of faith (depending on its upright or reversed placements)
Shown above: The Fool card in my Nameless One Tarot and Oracle deck, coming soon to Kickstarter!
The tarot Fool is an archetype
The Fool card embodies so much more than it's name implies. To really appreciate its energy when it shows up in our readings and in our lives, let’s first consider some of the aspects of the Fool as an archetype.
The fool is a free spirit. They are devoid of - and sometimes actively reject - the preconceived notions of their society. They are therefore more receptive to their inner wisdom and the energy of the universe. They start as empty vessels so that they may be filled, only to be emptied and filled again, and so it goes.
The tarot Fool is a spirit of instinct and impulse
Much like an infant,the Fool is a spirit of instinct and impulse. Yet in this Spontaneity there is truth. The Fool acts and reacts to the world completely removed from influencing factors. As the Fool embarks on their journey towards enlightenment (represented by the other cards in the Major arcana, and indeed the complete tarot deck) they grow and transform into something more. They gain the skills of the Magician and are guided by the intuition of the High Priestess. They relish their connection to the material world of the Empress and learn to accept the societal responsibility of the Emperor. Their journey of growth continues until they are something unrecognizable from their "fool" origins. It is only at the end of their journey that they realize what they have given up at the start. And then it begins again, the journey back to this most sacred “emptiness”.
The tarot Fool is a cosmic burst of energy
And so we may see the fool as a beginning, the bright cosmic burst of energy that initiates the construction of the universe, the same one that is responsible for you, and me, and everything we begin and pursue. Because it is the beginning, it necessarily implies the end. So the ignorance of the fool and the wisdom of it are intrinsically interlocked. How could it be any other way?
I Let us consider the energy of The Fool when interacting with the real world. The wisest among us admit themselves to be fools, for in the vastness of the unknowable universe, only a true fool would presume to be anything else. And yet those whose minds have come closest to grasping this truth have been historically hailed as madmen, heretics, and yes - fools - by their society.
Shown above: The Fool card from The Children of Litha tarot together with the Fool card from the Nameless One.
The tarot Fool as speaker of truth
Recall the historical image of the fool as an entertainer in a kings court. He was a jester laughed at and looked down upon by his peers. And yet he was often the only one able to speak truth to the tyrants controlling his world, even if only under the pretense of jest.
Think of the child who is tenderly introduced to the hardships of the world. What will she say when confronted with concepts such as poverty? Prejudice? War? Before the parent has explained their carefully reasoned rationalizations, a child might easily respond with “That’s not fair”. “That isn’t right”. “Why do things have to be that way?” The complexities of cruelty are lost on them because they instinctively know how simple truth can be when unimpeded by economics, tradition, and systemic social injustice. This is what jovial fool knows by heart.
The Fool of the Tarot embodies all of these qualities and even more still. It is this energy that takes us from one leap of faith to the next and then over again despite our concerns about the consequences. When you see The Fool in your readings, remember there are no limits but those we set for ourselves.
The meaning of the Fool card - upright and reversed.
free spirited • new beginnings • spontaneity • a leap of faith • innocence • optimism • wanderlust • freedom • youth • idealism • adventure • an unfettered heart
foolishness • naivety • recklessness • refusal of the Call • irritability • riskiness • childishness • distraction • apathy • negligence • lack of fun • crisis of faith