A young man happily makes his way in the world, blithely unaware he is about to step off a cliff. With a bag on a stick holding his belongings and his loyal dog following him, he holds in his free hand a flower. The sun beams from above and behind him are mountains.
The Fool can appear at the start of the Tarot or the end signifying how the circle of life repeats itself. We are all the Fool and we must all learn our own lessons as we journey through life. That journey, the Fool’s journey, is depicted in the remaining cards of the Tarot.
Like many of the Tarot cards, the simple images hold a greater meaning when studied. Symbols like the sun, animals, cliffs and the central character all need to be studied to reveal the hidden or subtle meaning within the card.
As The Fool, we are aware only of our immediate surroundings. We see neither danger nor otherworlds. A newborn baby has no fear of heights nor worries about the spirit or material world – only that its immediate needs are met. In the first card of the Tarot, the Fool symbolises our ignorance of what lies ahead. The Fool is leaving the heights (the heavens / spirit world / higher plane) where he has been and is about to step off and fall to the material world. Like the newborn baby, it is only his immediate thoughts that concern him and he pays no attention to what may come next or where he is going. The flower the Fool holds in his left hand is another symbol of our innocence.
The bag the Fool carries is curious. Like a traveler of old, it holds all his belongings, the items he needs for this journey. We can only speculate what is in the bag but we should be confident that we have at our disposal all the things we need to travel this journey we are about to embark on. That may be our principles, beliefs, sense of wonder or curiosity, it may be our ability to deduce answers from hidden signs.
In readings, the Fool symbolises a new journey. This can be spiritual, emotional or even a physical journey. We should be aware that there is a purpose to this journey like every journey we make. It may not be immediately obvious at first but as we travel we will learn and understand why we set out.
Just like the Fool walking off the cliff, this card suggests that we may take unexpected steps. We need to remember that there is a lesson to be learned with each step and through learning, we grow.
The Fool encourages us to be carefree. At stressful times in our lives it is not uncommon to have the Fool appear in readings. It urges us to let go of our worries and to make our next step without stress or fear, to become almost Fool like and trust that we will be just fine.
The Fool reversed can imply that we are not yet ready to make a journey. Perhaps it is ourselves that are blocking us from starting out. We may be fearful, intimidated or worried about the outcome. We should examine our reasons for not taking the next step and then let them go.
Reversed, the Fool may also imply that we are undertaking actions without any thought for the consequences. We are literally, acting the fool and if we do not pay heed to our actions, we will step off the cliff. When the Fool appears like so, we should make time to consider our journey or what we have been doing.
Have you been paying attention to any omens? I always like to think that the little dog barking is attempting to warn the Fool. When this card appears reversed, we should pay special attention for any special messages. These may appear in dreams, birds, sensations, chance encounters or even in a conversation with somebody else. The earth and the spirit world has a unique way of passing her messages to us, our failure to recognise them stems from our lost ability to listen out for them.