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Engaging with the Tarot: The Fool

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The Fool is the first card of the 22 cards in the major arcana of the tarot deck. It typically depicts a young person standing at the edge of a cliff, a small bag in hand, and often accompanied by a small dog. The symbolism in this card is rich and holds various interpretations.

This article will guide you through the symbolism and meaning of The Fool tarot card as well as its relation to the Jungian archetypes. However, when working with the tarot, I always advise new practitioners to spend some time with the card before they seek out interpretations from others. Begin by developing a personal connection with each card’s imagery, symbolism, and energy. Allow your intuition to guide you as you explore the subtleties and nuances within the tarot deck.

Pay attention to the feelings, images, and sensations that arise as you focus on the card and make notes about what comes up. Trust that your subconscious is communicating through the cards, offering unique perspectives tailored to your personality and situation. 

Remember, each reader possesses a unique intuitive language, and interpretations may vary. If your interpretation of the card doesn’t always match up to the interpretations you read in books or online don’t worry – you have a unique view of the world that comes from your experiences and the tarot can help you to explore these perspectives and access your subconscious for guidance and wisdom. Your view of the cards will also change over time as you gain further knowledge and life experience.

Once you have spent some time with the card, and feel that you have interpreted it to the best of your ability at this time, you are ready to seek out more information about the card and its symbolism.

Here are some of the symbols associated with the fool.

Beginnings and Innocence

The Fool is often associated with new beginnings, the start of a journey, and the innocence of a fresh start. It represents the initial steps of a venture or life path.

The Fool’s position at the beginning of the Tarot deck implies the potential for transformation and growth. It marks the start of the journey through the Tarot, a symbolic path of self-discovery. This is a path that we take many times in life. As we journey through the tarot we have many experiences, but each time we complete a cycle we return to the beginning. We become the fool once more, ready to embark on a new journey. We can be the fool at any stage of life and it is not a bad place to be. We can often learn much from taking the approach of a beginner, ready to learn.

Numerology

As the number zero, this card represents a point of both potential and wholeness. It is a card of infinite possibilities and the beginning of the journey through the Major Arcana.

Freedom, spontaneity and new challenges

The Fool carries a small bag, often called a “bindle” or “satchel,” slung over their shoulder. This bag represents a simple and unburdened approach to life. This card embodies the spirit of adventure and spontaneity! However, as well as being unburdened by physical possessions, the character is not weighed down by preconceived notions and is open to the unfolding of the unknown. The fool has left behind the burdens of expectation and is ready to embark on something new.

White Rose

In some versions of the Rider-Waite deck, a white rose can be seen on The Fool’s tunic. The white rose symbolizes purity, innocence and the spiritual nature of The Fool’s journey.

Trust and Faith

The Fool stands at the edge of a cliff, apparently unaware of the insecurity of his position. This symbolizes the potential dangers or uncertainties of the journey ahead. However, we cannot move forward in life without taking risks. This card encourages us to trust the journey and have faith in the process of life. It bids us to let go of fear and embrace the experiences that come with openness and without fear of failure. 

The instinctual nature

Though the fool is ready to begin his journey, he is accompanied by a small dog who is leaping up as if to warn him. The dog represents the animalistic or instinctual aspects of the self and seems to be warning us of the dangers ahead. This shows that we must trust our instincts when making decisions about the future.  We are encouraged to follow our intuition and release the rules and beliefs we have taken from society. 

The dog can also represent companionship and loyalty – we are never alone on our journey, we will have many beings that will support us along the way and have access to support and wisdom from others and the world as we travel through life.

Mountain Peaks

In the background, there are often distant mountain peaks. These mountains may represent challenges or goals that The Fool aspires to reach during their journey. The Fool’s optimistic spirit is undeterred by the obstacles on the path.

Sun and Sky

The sky is typically bright and sunny, reflecting an optimistic and carefree atmosphere. The Fool is not deterred by potential challenges, as the sun shines brightly on their journey.

These symbols collectively contribute to the overarching theme of this card, which embodies innocence, spontaneity and the courage to embark on a new adventure without fear while also warning us to pay attention to our instincts and intuition on this spiritual journey. 

While The Fool can represent new beginnings and a carefree spirit, it also underscores the importance of being attuned to one’s instincts and maintaining a balance between optimism and a grounded awareness of the situation. This card encourages you to be open to the journey ahead, acknowledging the wisdom within and around you as you navigate through life’s twists and turns.

When this card appears in a Tarot reading, its interpretation may vary based on the context of the reading and the surrounding cards. It often serves as a reminder to approach situations with an open mind, embrace change, and trust in the journey ahead.

The fool and Jungian archetypes

Jungian archetypes, created by psychologist Carl Gustav Jung, are universally recognized symbols and themes deeply embedded in the collective unconscious, representing fundamental aspects of the human experience and serving as innate patterns that influence thoughts, emotions and behaviours.

The Jungian archetype most commonly associated with The Fool in the tarot is the archetype of the “Puer Aeternus” or the “Eternal Youth.” This archetype reflects the qualities of youthfulness, spontaneity, playfulness and a certain resistance to growing up.

The Puer Aeternus embodies a spirit of adventure, boundless curiosity, and a willingness to explore the unknown. This archetype is often characterized by a certain naivety, as the individual may be idealistic, optimistic, and not bound by societal conventions or expectations. The Puer Aeternus may resist commitments and responsibilities, seeking freedom and autonomy.

In the context of The Fool card in tarot, the Puer Aeternus archetype aligns with the figure’s carefree demeanour, readiness for adventure, and potential for new beginnings. The Fool embraces life with an open heart and a sense of innocence, embodying the eternal youth archetype as they embark on their journey into the unknown.

It’s important to note that interpretations of archetypes can vary, and different tarot readers or psychologists may associate The Fool with different archetypes based on their perspectives and the specific symbolism they emphasize.

I hope you have enjoyed working with the Fool. When you are ready to learn more, check out the next card in the series, The Magician

Eva May Baker
Eva May Baker
Hello, and welcome to The City Witch, your portal into the magical world that exists within the hustle and bustle of city life. My name is Eva Baker and I am an urban folk witch, author and your guide on this magical journey.

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