Every person is torn between two needs. (1) The need of the Pirogue which symbolizes the travel, the tearing from one’s inner self and (2) The need of the Tree which is that of the roots, of the identity. Thus people are constantly wandering between these two needs, yielding sometimes to one and sometimes to the other … until they understand that it is with the Tree that one produces the Pirogue.
– Melanesian myth from the island of Vanuatu
PART 1 – SYMBOLISM
With his unlimited amount of energy and freedom, the Fool is ready to travel anywhere on the spur-of-the-moment.
The 78 arcana (cards) of a Tarot deck represent our life journey from our incarnation on earth to our spiritualization in the sky. The ubiquitous Fool mirrors all life potentials inside each of us. Let’s expand on the Fool’s four different arcana mentioned in the post about the Tarot cards introduction (there is also a navigation bar on the bottom if needed.)
Tarot de Marseille (TDM)
We indicated previously that to each of the Fool’s four body parts corresponds one of the four human life spheres. Now, to each sphere let’s also attach an element and a color. (1) Material: earth/green, (2) Emotional: water/blue, (3) Creative: fire/red and (4) Intellectual: air/yellow. Note that the water element is celestial like the clouds and fire is terrestrial like the volcanoes.
The entire TDM Tarot deck contains 11 different colors, each with its own symbolic meaning. Number of those colors appear in the Fool arcana, but for now we will focus on the blue sky color. Blue refers to our emotional life (receptivity) and the blue sky –its more subtle version– symbolizes our receptive emotions at the celestial (sky) level.
The Fool arcana shows that the blue sky color is present in each of his four body parts and appears only once in each. (1) Head/intellectual: shoulder stick that separates the head from his body (humans are only intellectual animals), (2) Heart/emotional: wide open sleeves (“he wears his heart on his sleeve”), (3) Guts/creative: a dog pushes a “fig leave”, implying the Fool’s artistic-sexual creations and (4) Feet/material: the soil color changes to blue sky (conscious awakening) as he walks.
To reach a higher awareness level, the TDM Fool needs to open his heart to the celestial level in all four life spheres (material, emotional, creative, intellectual).
Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot (RWS)
With his head looking up in the sky, the RWS Fool appears more like a careless dreamer. Both the TDM and the RWS Fools carry a small bag (representing all their belongings as they are detached from material goods and don’t need much to travel) on a stick on their shoulder.
While the TDM Fool walks on solid ground (realist), holds the stick with his left hand (receptive) and looks to our right (the future), the RWS Fool walks on the edge of a cliff (idealist), holds the stick with his right hand (active) and looks to our left (the past).
Both costumes are very different too, with colorful accessories (rich potentials) in the TDM and flowers (innocence) in the RSW. The dog symbolizes our animal instincts. While the TDM dog pushes the Fool to move ahead (future), the RWS dog warns the Fool not to (imminent danger.)
The white rose in the Fool’s hand is a symbol of purity and the red feather on his cap represents his vitality. The white sun (pure consciousness) in the yellow (intelligence) sky (spiritual) is in the top right corner (the beacon is the farther possible in the arcana = long journey).
To reach a higher awareness level, the RWS Fool needs to rely on his purity and innocence in order to trade security for freedom.
Mythic Tarot (MT)
In the MT, the Fool looks like an irresponsible young boy wearing animal skins (primitive instincts) coming out of a cave (the past) and about to jump over a cliff (the unknown). The rising sun (consciousness) on the horizon is far away (at the end of a very long path). The stones on the ground indicate that he his about to leave the material world (security) behind him while jumping in the air (freedom).
In the MT mythological deck, the Fool correlates to Dionysos whose existence was complicated even before he was born. His mother Semele was a mortal princess who got pregnant by none other than Zeus, the god of gods himself. Hera, Zeus’ wife was furious of her husband infidelity and planned to kill the pregnant mother and her baby. Hera succeeded in killing Semele, but the unborn child was saved by Zeus who pursued the pregnancy by having the fetus implanted in his thigh. The magic surgeon was non other than Hermes, another son of Zeus born out of wedlock. Finally Dionysos was born, which did not stop Hera’s anger who still wanted him dead. She almost succeeded but again Zeus saved Dionysos heart that was used to revived him in Hades (Zeus brother) underground where his wife Persephone became a surrogate mother delivering Dionysos with a second birth (the Twice-Born, Dionysos became the god of light and ecstasy.) Hera was still mad and forced him to wander endlessly in the world, but Zeus got the last word by inducting Dionysos as a full fledged god sitting in the Olympus at the right hand of his father.
Dionysos brought the gift wine to mankind as well as the spiritual redemption for those willing to renounce to their power and material possessions. Dionysos symbolic wine always implies the danger of the unknown. With the deity protection, his altered state of mind will lead him to a higher consciousness level. However, without protection he could have fallen into foolishness. Taking a chance to live a more fuller life is uncertain but well worth taking the risk.
The eagle (royal bird) in the MT Fool arcana refers to Zeus protection. The horns symbolize Dionysos animal instincts while the flower crown his divine vineyard.
To reach a higher awareness level, the MT Fool needs to trust his animal instincts and follow his intuitive impulses.
Symbolon Tarot (ST)
The ST card now shows a colorful Jester walking happily on his initiation path towards a yellow thunderbolt (consciousness) far away in the mountains. Like in the TDM and RWS, the ST Fool carries a stick on his shoulder with a bag at its end, though with a puppet of a king (his deflated ego) hanging out. The path is bordered with rocks (“rocky road”) and flowers (pleasure). Like the TDM Fool he walks with a cane (support) to strengthen his determination and self-confidence.
In the ST astrologic deck, the Fool is associated with the zodiac sign of Aquarius (freedom and humanism) and its ruling planet Uranus (originality and revolution). Both astrological glyphs appear on the Arcana corners. Both Uranus and Aquarius require impulse and determination to act in order to embark in a new beginning on the journey of life. The path leads to a small isolated village which can be interpreted as the emerging Age of Aquarius (unity of science and art as well as a more humane life paradigm).
A preview of the Age of Aquarius new paradigm can be illustrated by Michael Tellinger idealist Ubuntu Planet project. He sees a world where people do not live divided in fear of each other but rather live in united communities that thrive in abundance on all levels. He travels the world evangelizing his vision. Click to purchase his book.
To reach a higher awareness level, the ST Fool needs to free itself from habits in order to tap in its limitless potentials.
Though the ST deck of contains also 78 illustrated cards, it is more an oracle deck of cards than a Tarot deck. We included those ST cards in this presentation because of their psycho-astrologic roots. The celestial bodies in the Astro Tarology original mandala “The Flower Of Life” also follow astrological connections, but is in a completely unique structure. Details are developed in a post about Kabbalah, Astrology and Tarot.
In Astro Tarology mandala the “Flower Of Life” the Fool act as an astrological mediator between the planet Earth (terrestrial body) and the Moon (celestial mind) paralleling Dionysos material-spiritual ambiguity (cave and eagle).
In a summary, we can say that to reach a higher awareness level, the Fool needs to (1) open his heart to the celestial level in all four life spheres (material, emotional, creative, intellectual), (2) rely on his purity and innocence in order to trade security for freedom, (3) trust his animal instincts and follow his intuitive impulses and (4) free itself from habits in order to tap in its limitless potentials.
As a practical simple advice, your inner Fool recommends that you follow your instincts and move on with a fresh beginning.
Click on 2 for the FOOL Practical Exercises