I seriously believed I’d be able to have this post ready and pressed by the end of yesterday. Although I had the best of intentions — heavy post-surgery road conditions mixed with periodic thunder storms courtesy of a 2-year-old, culminating into a consistent and bothersome trickle of financial responsibilities prevented me from actually typing it all up. I finished it numerous times in my head. I fool you not!
So here I am, writing about April 1st on April 2nd. Better later than never, they say. I say, ‘nuff with excuses. So here goes:
A few days ago, while familiarizing myself with the virtual geography of Tarosophy’s Tarot Town, I stumbled upon a blog post where the author referred to April 1st as the first day of the Tarot year. Considering the Fool to be to be the first card of the major arcana along with pre-Christian beliefs that a year’s cycle begins in spring, it is easy to imagine All Fools Day to be the New Year’s Day of a tarot year*.
The Fool card, in my eyes has always been a paradox. It’s a potent archetype and a loaded concept. It’s the exact moment of conception. Just before: One bursts into two; the healer is wounded with a poisoned spear; the heart is pierced with an arrow of love. The precise instant of the Big Bang. As Aphrodite’s is about to set her virginal foot upon the great ocean for the first time, while the sacred oil is at a hair’s distance from the king’s head — right there lives the most potent opportunity of all. In the space between Innocence and Lunacy, between the dagger and Isaac’s throat, between a finger and a red button, there exists a chance of seemingly unattainable grandeur. A grand moment where a different you, on a different plane, is still capable of making a different decision.
This is the domain of the Fool. Is his smile a sign of a man who knows the secrets of creation, or a mark of a lunatic? Is there a difference?
The Fool’s smile is as wide and radiant as the primordial ocean, free of logic, and fear, and consequences. His step is light. Is he walking or dancing? He is certainly content with the mojo bag hanging off of his shoulder, a magic packet containing everything the Fool will ever need. Walking with his loyal beast, equals and side by side, the Fool knows they understand each other without words. “We don’t need to speak to be best friends,” knows the Fool. “We understand each other without words,” knows the beast.
Indeed, the Fool card might be the most complex of the entire tarot. It reminds me of such complex characters as the mad saints of India. Ascetic, rebellious, and uncompromising they live in the most inacceptable places and unimaginable conditions. They flock the cremation grounds, often surviving on thin air. And when they finally get something to eat they share it with the dogs that follow them everywhere. While some deem them spiritually unclean and plain insane, others consider them saintly and pure.
My favorite Indian saint is Bamakhepa of Tarapith. At first glance his actions were considered folly, yet the knowers saw that he was tied to the Divine Mother through an umbilical cord of devotion and intuition beyond limits. Living in the space between thought and word, his gifts of curse and cure were uncanny. And as I think of Bamakhepa, Saint Lazarus’s image appears clearly in my mind’s eye. I can go on and on and on.
Holly Fools exist not only in religious context. They stem from the fairytales that scaffold our understanding of the world, before we step into adulthood so proud of our ideas of right and wrong. The metaphor of the Fool’s Journey — which is the essentially what Joseph Campbell coined The Hero’s Journey — appears consistently in folktales around the globe. My first exposure to such concept was through character of Ivanushka Durachok, a beloved, happy-go-lucky simpelton of Russian fairytales. For this reason his depiction on the Fool card of the Russian Tarot of St. Petersburg is so dear to me.
As an offering to the hero of the tarot pack, on her special day as the initiator of tarot’s yearly cycle, I designed a little spread to help connecting with the sacred space in between our conscious and unconscious — 0 Degrees of Fool:
The main idea here is accessing and realizing aspects of ourselves that are not readily visible through the logical lenses we are generally taught to use. If you are trying to find inspiration for a story you’re writing, for instance, or find an innovative approach to dealing with your toddler’s tantrums in a positive way, or maybe even figuring out what really bothers you about a certain co-worker, this layout will help with tuning in to the Fool’s playful vibe.
Find the Fool card in a tarot pack of your choice. (I will be illustrating this exercise with the exquisit Le Tarot des Femmes Erotiques. And yes, it is illustrated with vintage images of naked women. So be forewarned!).
Take a few minutes to meditate and set a sacred space in which you feel safe and comfortable. Meditate on the card in your hands. Ask the Fool to help you connecting with her domain within your own self. Ask her to teach you the rhythm of her song, the pace of her dance.
When you feel ready, place the card back in the pack and shuffle. When it feels right cut the deck and turn it over, so you can see the cards’ faces. From left to right look for the Fool card. When you find it, pull it along with the following 4 cards. Make sure to keep the cards in the same order you drew them.
Alongside position number 0, which is of course the Fool card, the 1st position is called The Fool Within — a unique aspect of your own self that currently holds the strongest vibration of the Fool’s archetype. Feel into it. Don’t work too hard to understand it mentally. Experience its effect in your physical body. Let the Fool teach you to access this special place, so you can return there as often as you desire.
2nd Position — Bag of Tricks — here you’ll find spiritual and physical treasures available to you. “Make sure to use these,” says the Fool, “if you are really up for solving your problem.”
3rd Position — The Cliffhanger — you know how in the cards the Fool often looks like she’s about to fall off a cliff? Well, what keeps you from falling down the rabbit hole of unhealthy habits and painful delusions? The answers are in position number 3. This illustrates the point of no return in your personal situation. “You hitchhike this ride, cowgirl, and the next rest area will be the deep end.”
4th Position — The Fool’s BFF — while positions 1, 2 & 3 present esoteric knowledge and hidden information, in position 4 you’ll find verifiable facts and concrete data. This card might describe an actual person in your life that is trustworthy and willing to support your cause. It could reinforce an idea you’ve considered, but doubted its success.
Finally, you’ve got to remember that the Fool will tell it to you like it is. She’s been around for a long time and will be blunt when needed — so don’t be surprised if in position 4 you’re message might sound something like: “Honey, this red and green sweater ain’t vintage! It looked crazy 20 years ago, so why do think it works for a date tonight? Even your grandma wouldn’t call this atrocity sexy. 😉
I hope you enjoyed this post. I’d love to hear what you think and feel in regard to the Fool card, and the various ways this archetype shows up in your life, spiritual practice, and divination.
- The Idea of there being such a concept as a Tarot Year is quite arguable because the tarot system doesn’t land itself easily to be divided into a year, whether it is a lunar or Gregorian calendar.
(c) 2012 Madame Nadia, Under the Cowrie Moon