Embracing the Fool

Well, I started to write this up for Tarot Tuesday, got distracted and now it’s Wednesday… but it is also April Fool’s Day, so this still works, right?

For a little change of pace, I thought you all might enjoy a dive into a single tarot card. And we might as well start with the very beginning, card 0 of your Rider-Waite inspired tarot deck, The Fool!

The Fool, as seen in the Rider Waite deck.

There are plenty of reasons to start with The Fool, aside from just his position as card 0 of the Major Arcana. If one is to look at the cards as a story, then The Fool is who we follow through it. He is young, naive, and about to step out on a journey into the unknown. The journey could bring him to wonders, or he may lose his footing and stumble, but right now at the beginning he does not care. He is moving forward, and that is what matters.

Let’s take a moment and look at just the image. A young man in a jaunty cap is off on a journey, his bag on a stick over his shoulder, and a rose in his hand. The sun is at his back, and he looks up, not noticing (or caring?) that he is about to step off a cliff. A small dog is at his heels, either a companion or about to warn him if he steps too far.

The Fool is a symbol of naive beginnings. Naivete is not in itself a bad thing. Being naive means going into new things without preconceived notions, which can allow us to see everything as wondrous and new. But there is always a balance to be struck between experiencing new things and being foolhardy about it. So go ahead – try something new! Do something you have never done before! But don’t have your head so far in the clouds that you don’t see the cliff in front of you. Pay attention to what’s around you and you’ll receive warnings when you need them most.

The Fool has no pretensions. The Fool does not know, and thus is open to knowledge. The Fool shows innocence and reminds us to embrace our inner child. The Fool reminds us to not overplan, not overthink, but to go with our impulses and do something new.

Now, a little fun: I delved into my collection and photographed all the Fools I could. Jac and I were having a conversation recently about how different decks interpret the same images, and I think these show that well. I have found in general, the farther the imagery deviates, the more the author has their own unique interpretation as well.

The Fool in The Enchanted Tarot stays pretty close to the Rider imagery. This was my first deck!
Now for something completely different, the Klimt Tarot has a much less joyful image.
The Gummy Bear Tarot sticks with its roots, simplified.
The Ancestral Path Tarot instead puts the reader, the seeker, as The Fool.
Imagery in the Thoth Tarot is its own rich tradition, and one I may delve into another time.
Another silly deck, this one came from Spirit Halloween! Alas, as these were “novelty only,” they come with no interpretations.
My Spanish is terrible, but I still love this deck from the Mage the Ascension (roleplaying game) 20th Anniversary, Spanish Kickstarter. The Fool’s “dog” clings to his leg and he still has a rose, but now he has a sword instead of his bag on a stick. And I love his fashion sense!
Well, I did say The Fool was a card of beginnings, so here’s the Egg in Food Fortunes
Another less happy image, The Fool in the Dark Grimoire Tarot isn’t going anywhere, except into his own madness.
This Color Your Own Tarot from Echo Chernix was a Kickstarter deck and given to me as a gift. Somehow when I started coloring I started at 1 and missed The Fool! Artist’s own style of standard imagery here.
The Byzantine Tarot – I love this one for its religious icon inspired art. The Fool has lost a lot of his trappings, but going naked into the world still fits.
Replace cliffs with rooftops and you have The Fool from the Steampunk Tarot!
The Halloween Tarot nicely blends its own imagery with the standard Rider imagery for this clown Fool.
The Vertigo Tarot is very much a showcase of the artist, but if you look closely you can still spot some of the standard trappings of The Fool.
Well, apparently The Fool in the Osho Zen Tarot really doesn’t care about that cliff! Interestingly, this in one of very few cards in this deck that seems to stay close to Rider images.
We’re just taking the Rider Waite symbolism and making it cute for The Manga Tarot.
The Mystic Faerie Tarot is a very popular deck it seems, but The Fool doesn’t really do much for me. He just looks like another fairy.
Ah, Dali Tarot Universal. If we could understand the imagery easily, it wouldn’t be Dali. But a lot of details worth going into here!
The Celtic Dragon Tarot certainly has a young man starting out on a journey, but here instead danger appears to lurk unseen behind him and his path is solid.
The Starman Tarot uses The Sacred Clown in place of The Fool, and for this deck I really like that change. They are still clearly the one we experience the Tarot through.
The Ostara Tarot does not go with the typical images, but the young witch with red knees flying off into the unknown still captures the mood well.

What do you think? Do you have a favorite fool? Let us know in the comments!

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Embracing the Fool