Bitten by a bug of inspiration, I wanted to take a break from drawings, castings, and musings to take a deeper look into the meanings of the cards themselves. So from now on Sundays are going to include something like what you’re seeing today.
I have a standard RWS deck by my bed. I’ve been flipping through the cards jotting down my impressions before bed, and then comparing those impressions to books in the morning. It’s not in any particular order, but for this tentatively 78-part series I’m going to go in order of the deck.
So, as should all good journeys begin, let us start with The Fool.
This is a card that gets kind of a bad rap – no one wants to be called a fool, no one wants to be thought foolish, but this isn’t the kind of fool getting poor marks in school even though they have several tutors. This is the kind of fool who scrapes their knee while adventuring and laughs it off with a good joke. This is the fool who gives their meal to their adventuring companion and waves off their own grumbling stomach with a genuine smile.
This is the Fool who isn’t actually ever fooled.
The Fool knows the Emperor’s new clothes are a con, and calls him on it. The Fool knows you don’t actually need new shoes, but he’ll still give you his. The Fool steps off the edge of that cliff, happy to hear you gasp in concern (because it’s nice to know people genuinely care for us), and knowing the drop won’t even hurt. It’s a beautiful day out, after all, nothing can go wrong. The Fool’s blind devotion to this belief is what practically causes it to become the Truth.
The Fool is the beginning and the end of a journey. It’s the ability to walk into the endless embrace of Possibilities without fear. It’s the introspection of what was gained after a journey. It’s knowing what to take with you and what to leave behind. None of these cards are overburdened – Even the most static overburdened among them looks like he could happily walk for miles.
I would love to be the Fool – in some things I strive to be thus, in other things I struggle. The call of a new endeavor, the beckon of the wild to travel – I worry about the details. Some would see this as a good thing, but imagine all the adventures you could have if you just did those things that struck you when they struck you.
It’s an important distinction however, that the Fool isn’t being depended on either. Sure, oft there is an animal companion included – but almost always some animal that you’re sure could take care of itself as easily as not. It’s happy to travel with the Fool, but there’s no dependency there – if the Fool takes its last step, that animal will still be okay. The Fool wouldn’t be the Fool if they had someone depending on them – which is where most of the “I’m worried about these details” thoughts tend to come from for most of us.
And that’s fine! Society, culture, self – these things are too complex to be embodied in a single tarot card or rune. Pure embodiment of a card would be detrimental no matter which one it is.
Just, the next time the Fool pops up in a reading for you, don’t think about foolish tragedies – think about Bilbo Baggins running down the path with the contract in his hand and a hastily compiled traveling sack, gleefully shouting that he’s going on an adventure! Sure, it wasn’t easy, but the impact it had on the world AND – more importantly – on Bilbo himself was worth the concerns.
But Quin!, you cry, Bilbo became addicted to the ring and nearly attacked Frodo over it! See? Focusing on that one negative is the antithesis of The Fool. Bilbo experienced a world that most Hobbits die never knowing exists. His life was longer, fuller, and more unique for it. He (positively) influenced Frodo and helped create the changes needed for the eventual end of the story – if he’d never left the Shire then the Ring would’ve ended up where it wanted to be, and not melting in the fires of Mt. Doom.
I can hear you scoff, but can you really say that none of your actions are that far-reaching? Can you 100% be fully assured that no act of kindness – or malice – on your part didn’t sling through multiple people? A kindness making someone rethink the unthinkable to have that person extend charity to someone who creates a business that creates jobs that employs someone who would’ve starved otherwise, who has a kid who ends up being a leader and changing the world – and they never would’ve been if not for you.
Step into that adventure – change the world. Even if that adventure is something as safe as learning a new language, or crafting socks, or drawing a card – Hyperion was a small seed before becoming the largest tree in the world. The number of things to cause that result are as countless as the number of things that could’ve stopped it from happening.
You don’t know if you don’t try, and the Fool reminds you that even if you walk face first into the wall the next steps are easy. Smile, laugh, make a joke if you can, Learn From It, and carry on.
And sure, cry if you have to – that’s okay too.