Understanding Tarot: The Fool’s Journey
Several months ago, I was doing a Tarot spread for a client and I expressed great excitement when the Fool card came up in her reading. She was considering leaving a relationship that had been toxic for many years, and the card, as I interpreted it, was a positive indication of what the future held for her.
When I told her that The Fool was in a very prominent place in her reading, right in the center, she exclaimed, “Well, I certainly felt like a fool for trusting him for all these years. But I hope that doesn’t mean that I’m going to be a fool forever.”
I explained to her that The Fool card in the Major Arcana of the Tarot – the 22 cards in the deck that act as archetypes for human behavior and experiences – rarely means being a fool in life, but rather it’s a card that means transition, change, and new beginnings. She listened carefully as I explained to her why the fool is such an important card in any reading.
The Fool Travels
“The Fool” in almost every Tarot deck that I have seen is depicted as a man or woman who is on a journey with a small dog by his or her side. You can tell that The Fool is traveling because he carries a stick over his shoulder with a small bundle attached with his belongings. There is a body of water beside him, and often by his feet is what appears to be an alligator or reptile coming out of the water. While he must be aware of danger at times, The Fool is assured and confident about his desire to see the world. He may not know exactly where is going, but he is open, receptive and ready to discover whatever life plans to show him.
Take A Chance or Start Anew
In a Tarot spread, The Fool can have many different meanings depending on the context, but the result is always the same. The Fool, when presented right-side-up (I include reverse meanings in all my readings) reveals to us when we are ready to take a chance and start anew. A client of mine, for example, was frustrated with her work situation and was considering quitting her job. The Fool in her reading suggested that this might be a great time to start sending out resumés and tell her business contacts that she was looking to move on.
A woman who had spent many years at home raising and supporting her family decided that she wanted to go back to school in her forties. The Fool card in her spread showed me that her guides were encouraging her to go for it! I suggested that she go online and start writing some universities for materials. With the Three of Cups beside The Fool, I knew that being a student would not only be fulfilling for her personally but it would be a successful part of a new career.
Understanding The Fool’s Companions
The Fool doesn’t mean that we aren’t scared or that there aren’t challenges. That’s what the alligator in the water symbolizes. The dog beside the Fool is on the look-out, representing innocence and play, but also awareness. He is an important reminder that the Fool is never alone on the journey. Now, if the client who I had read for earlier wanted to leave her job, and was thinking about walking into her office and quitting that day (with no plan, no contacts, no strategy, and no savings,) The Fool might end up reversed in her spread. Reversed in her reading, the alligator is much more powerful, suggesting that there may be some unpleasant consequences from moving too quickly and not making careful assessments about what we envision for the future. If The Fool card is beside the Magician, also reversed, perhaps we are being lied to by someone in a relationship, or we are allowing a situation to continue in which we are being deceived.
Remember: there is no judgment from the cards at any time, just greater levels of awareness. The cards would never say, “You’re a fool for letting him treat you like that!”, but rather, “Here is a relationship where you may have put your trust in someone, and they don’t deserve it. Please look at the situation more closely.” The Fool always encourages you to assess, and if you aren’t happy, perhaps it is time to move on.
The Fool Inspires Inner Guidance
And lastly, the Fool inspires us to listen to our inner guidance, to look for psychic connections and synchronicity in our daily lives. After a reading where The Fool has appeared, we may run into an old friend and say, “I was just thinking about calling you.” Miracles happen when we are willing to let go of control and allow the universe to guide us. The card is called The Fool because a fool knows that they don’t know everything, but they know they can be taught. And they are always looking for a new opportunity, a new friend, or some new thing to create. They are the part of us that remembers where our dreams are and how to make them come true. That doesn’t sound very foolish to me!
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