The Fool Tarot Card Meaning & Interpretations
The Fool is probably the most misunderstood but certainly the most important card in the Tarot deck. In the Rider Waite Smith deck, Arthur E. Waite and Pamela Coleman Smith's Fool is illustrated in a way that leaves The Fool's next step open to interpretation. Most who see this card just take his name and, as the human mind is so good at, fill in what's not there. A cliff and unheeded disaster. But is it a cliff? Could it just be a ledge? Is the dog trying to warn him, or is it just happy and carefree like its companion who is looking towards the heavens. The dog too appears, on closer inspection, to be looking in the same direction. Neither traveler is concerned with the ground falling away in front of them.
The Fool is related to the Pages in the Minor Arcana suits. Each minor page relates to a naive, or foolish, approach to their element. The Fool, just like the other Major courtiers (The Chariot, The Empress and The Emperor ), is a master off all the elements with a focus on the spiritual realm. He walks left, towards the past, which is symbolic of the wrong direction. Beautifully dressed he looks as if he has set out on an adventure in search for something. His focus on heaven symbolises his search for a meaning to life, a higher purpose and destiny. His intentions are good but he lacks experience and wisdom and may be going in the wrong direction. The imagery of The Fool asks a question of us. Who are we to look at someone else and think that they are going in the wrong direction? If their intentions are good, and they are following their heart not their head, how can they be wrong? The following 21 cards in the Major Arcana each symbolise the mysteries The Fool must solve, and lessons he must learn, once he finds the life path he must follow that will guide him to what he is looking for.
The Fool is unique among the Major Arcana for being the only card not to have a number. However some Tarot decks give this card a numerical value of 0 (zero). There is no numerology to constrain The Fool and he, and the Pages, are unique in being free from its cycle of numbers. The Fool represents an individual's journey through the trials of life, marked out by each of the 21 Major Arcana cards, ending with the Ascension to Enlightenment in the final card, The World.
Sometimes we need to follow our hearts not our heads or the perceived wisdom of others and trust in our own intuition.
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.
Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the result of other people’s thinking.
Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice.
And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.
They somehow already know what you truly want to become.
Everything else is secondary.
Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish ”
- Steve Jobs, 2005 Stanford Commencement Address.
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THE PICTORIAL KEY TO THE TAROT
By Arthur Edward Waite (1911)
With light step, as if earth and its trammels had little power to restrain him, a young man in gorgeous vestments pauses at the brink of a precipice among the great heights of the world; he surveys the blue distance before him-its expanse of sky rather than the prospect below. His act of eager walking is still indicated, though he is stationary at the given moment; his dog is still bounding. The edge which opens on the depth has no terror; it is as if angels were waiting to uphold him, if it came about that he leaped from the height. His countenance is full of intelligence and expectant dream. He has a rose in one hand and in the other a costly wand, from which depends over his right shoulder a wallet curiously embroidered. He is a prince of the other world on his travels through this one-all amidst the morning glory, in the keen air. The sun, which shines behind him, knows whence he came, whither he is going, and how he will return by another path after many days. He is the spirit in search of experience. Many symbols of the Instituted Mysteries are summarized in this card, which reverses, under high warrants, all the confusions that have preceded it.
In his Manual of Cartomancy, Grand Orient has a curious suggestion of the office of Mystic Fool, as apart of his process in higher divination; but it might call for more than ordinary gifts to put it into operation. We shall see how the card fares according to the common arts of fortune-telling, and it will be an example, to those who can discern, of the fact, otherwise so evident, that the Trumps Major had no place originally in the arts of psychic gambling, when cards are used as the counters and pretexts. Of the circumstances under which this art arose we know, however, very little. The conventional explanations say that the Fool signifies the flesh, the sensitive life, and by a peculiar satire its subsidiary name was at one time the alchemist, as depicting folly at the most insensate stage.
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