Welcome to a new series of posts that will compare each card in the Tarot across different decks in order to study and explore each archetype and concept more deeply. I will dedicate each article to the exploration of one card at a time. This is not necessarily meant to be a teaching tool for others, but if you like to study the Tarot as much as I do, I hope you find it interesting. Enjoy!
The first card of the Major Arcana is The Fool which is typically shown as a young man with a dog and a knapsack heading out on a journey, sometimes described as an epic journey. The fool traditionally carries a white rose as a symbol of peace and purity. The dog symbolizes the guide within offering divine protection, and the knapsack all of his past experiences and knowledge.
Its one of the foundational Archetypes of the Major Arcana along with the Magician, High Priestess, Empress, Emperor and Hierophant, and this foundation is being completely open to this new journey.
The 0 represents both being open and the process of returning back to the beginning and starting either the first journey, or a new journey from the beginning. The fool is open to all possibilities, even the possibility that things will not work out, or there may be unforeseen obstacles.
Let’s start with this card from the Osho Zen Tarot. In most Fool cards its unclear if the Fool is about to take the first step off a large cliff, or onto a fairly even path. In this card it looks like you are about to take a real leap of faith from the beginning, and without a dog or knapsack to boot! (Luckily you still get the white flower.)
The fool, more than maybe any other archetype, is living completely in the present moment which is where our intuition can function at its peak. He is not concerned with the past or what might happen in the future.
This card goes a little further than the classic image and asks you to consider that any start to any journey, no matter how large or small a trek is just as big of a leap of faith and a surrender to the unknown. Also, you may think you are more prepared with the dog and knapsack at your side, but what you may encounter on this journey may require something you don’t’ already have, and thinking that you are more prepared than you are is a false confidence in the first place.
So take the leap! All by yourself. Your path awaits.
This Fool card from the Santa Muerte Tarot does show a soul with several tools that they think might help them. They are leaving the grave which in this deck would be the nest with their heart on their sleeve and are looking forward to a joyful new journey and transformation represented by the butterfly on their finger.
On one hand its seems an easier start to just step up and out of the nest. On the other hand the place they are leaving was difficult to leave, and this may be a time to recognize the effort that goes into that first step. Or maybe dropping the baggage is the real first step to be able to be on the journey. Will leaving it behind free you up to channel your energy better? What will it take for you to take this first step out of the past?
Another very classic view of the fool from this card from the Lua Tarot. In this deck the card is not called the fool but The Seeker, which is the Golden Dawn Tarot name for the Fool card. This might cause you to ask if you know that your are seeking something and not starting out on the path without awareness of any preconceived intention. The fool does not necessarily carry the idea that they even intend to be on a journey, but the Seeker does. What might the idea of intention bring to your awareness of your own journey?
This card from The Mystical Moments Tarot is even more forthright about the dangers that the woman may encounter on the journey. The aspect of the fool that is being emphasized here is the idea that failure is part of the journey, and if you aren’t willing to be open to failure you are not truly open to the journey in the first place. This is a key aspect to the archetype of the fool.
Additionally the idea of learning is shown here as this person is genuinely curious about her surroundings. She is willing to surrender to the journey to experience life fully. Are you starting your next journey with any fears of failure? If so that will prevent you from connecting fully to the present moment where there is no failure, only opportunity and learning.
In the Afro Brazilian Tarot deck the Fool card is at the end of the Major Arcana. For me it has the connotation of openly coming from your place of power to start the next journey. Its the idea of willingly surrendering again to the journey over and over again no matter how experienced or practiced you feel you might be. There is nothing whimsical about this Fool’s journey here, this man is charging into the unknown in a way that connects to the earth in a very intentional way. Very different than stepping off a cliff into the unknown, but requiring just as much courage and surrender to head out once more and not get too comfortable.
This card also seems to connect with the Osho Zen Tarot concept of the Fool in that no matter how much you are exposed to and learn, you should keep dropping this “baggage” and come back to the present moment to start anew empty handed. Over and over and over again. That is a very pure essence of the Fool archetype.
In the Brady Tarot the fool is represented by a young cowbird who has dropped a feather to test the height of the nest first before heading out on its first journey. It is being helped by a bluebird who is feeding it one last meal before it sets out alone.
In this version of the fool card we are not talking about intuition or intention but instinct that allows this bird to start its journey. What’s the difference? Instinct implies an innate drive toward action and not thought. What would it mean to listen to your instincts versus relying on the more cerebral and spiritual process of intuition or intention? Would using instinct first or for a period of time allow your intuition to grow that much further? Maybe another aspect of the journey is this idea of instinct versus intuition.
The last example I have of the Fool is from the Way Home Tarot. It has more of a first person feel to the card versus all of the others so you could even picture these are your own two feet ready to take the first steps of the journey. Can you spend some time visualizing and meditating on what this journey, this first step, or this quest is? How would this work.
If we go back to the beginning of the article (see what I did there?) we can remember that in order to see the journey and start the journey we must be connected to the present moment. Close your eyes. Create that connection with your breath, drop your baggage, and take that instinctual leap! Be open and ready to leave the last journey behind and start anew.
The lizard has lost its manners and is pulling a grumpy scowl across its face The blue flower strays lackadaisically in the wind Tall towers stroke the sky
We’ve lost our minds but we haven’t yet lost the universe
A half formed thought streaks across the sky in plaid letters What do the letters say? We don’t know. We’ve lost our language and misplaced all our punctuation. We flow through abstract sequences, colors bleeding into other colors. Inanimate objects tell us what to think Until…
We finally hit our head feel our own blood run down our forehead and wake up.
I stood in the dark and winked at myself twice I called to you from beyond a brick wall whispering Laughing underwater, smelling plastic flowers, and chewing on paper tasteless meat are all common things
Sometimes the truth is there but we hide from it and instead we stand winking in the dark
It’s hard to look at what is going on in the world and not see dark times. Especially when there are events that are indeed very dark. But if all we do is despair we are even more out of balance.
For me balance is a verb, not a noun. It’s something I am always activating and expanding into and adjusting. In dark times the way I balance is by adding light to the world in whatever quantity I can muster that day even if its just a tiny flame.
Today’s reading is meant to inspire that spark or flame within so that you in turn can spark that flame in others. It was done by first pulling cards and reading them intuitively, and then pulling two more cards to set an even stronger intention.
The first card is from the Enchanted Map Oracle, and its called Intention. Today I look at this card and I see that the Owl is not trying to prevent the seeds of the dandelion from being spread, and the owl isn’t not trying to force them to spread, but it is holding the dandelion in an intentional direction, so that when the wind blows the direction the seeds are planted is intentional.
What direction are you holding your dandelion? What seeds are you trying to plant, and is that just happening randomly, or can you see a way to be more intentional?
The next card I pulled is from the Way Home Tarot. The six of swords is about making a mental transition or transformation. The start of that journey was difficult, and the events that have transpired so far were not easy to overcome. But now you have a choice, will you continue on in despair or will you choose to transition and intentionally grow in a new direction? Maybe in a direction that brings more light to yourself and others.
One of my favorite cards, again pulled from the Way Home Tarot. The 10 of pentacles speaks to building not only something that strengthens your future, but strengthens the future of generations to come. If you can accomplish the transformation or transition mentioned above, this is what it has the potential to build. A place for everyone at the table. A table of abundance for generations to come, a legacy.
This is what can come from intentionally creating a tiny flame today, that grows into a fire that can warm many, and its why small tasks that can be done today should not be seen as “not enough”. Lots of intentional small flames can create a really strong light and a better balance in the world.
The next card is from the Light Seers Tarot, and I pulled this one intentionally. It reminds me of some people who inspire me, and I pull it to describe one of the tools or attributes they have that allows them to keep moving on their path, and keep lighting flames of hope along the way.
The fool is about having faith enough to start the journey. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said that faith is taking the first step without being able to see the whole staircase. The fool knows this and willingly plunges off the cliff to start the journey. Its a journey where even the first few steps are not entirely known. But when we know that a journey is one of creating light for ourselves and others intentionally, we should have this faith, and take this leap.
Its one of the actions we can take to contribute to our verb of balance. Just taking this leap starts a small spark and puts that into the world.
The last tool and the point of the whole post is the archetype of The Star also intentionally chosen from the Light Seers Tarot. The Star is hope itself, but not in a way that is distant and unreachable. When you find The Star in your life or on your path you find the string that allows you to connect to hope. There may be stages of this. The first stage might be just finding the string in the first place. The second, feeling the connection through the string to that light and that hope, and lastly, being able to add your light to this star that provides hope for all of us.
What tiny flame will you light today as you set an intention and use balance as a verb?
Many of our questions tend to be around our own path, how to heal and evolve ourselves. For some of us we will never attempt to find a legacy, or consider what kind of ancestor we might become. A step beyond this is asking what myth or legend our story could become? Who will we inspire for future generations? What will we leave them? A problem to solve, or a solution?
The message of the 10 of pentacles is to ask these questions, and see if there isn’t something you can be building or working on today that will become a legacy for the future.
These first two cards are from the Afro Brazilian Tarot and the Tarot of the Divine. These are two powerful heads of a family/clan/community who have built a legacy through leadership. One possibility, and a very noble pursuit. Lets look at some more ways of manifesting this idea.
These next two cards are from the Light Seers Tarot and the Way Home Tarot. They show beautiful visions of 10 plates, or 10 foundations that future generations can eat from or play with.
That might sound a little daunting, so if you are having trouble envisioning this, start with one plate. What plate/dish/foundation/inspiration can you start working on today that will become a place setting for this legacy?
I think even more importantly you don’t have to do this on your own. Make it a community/family/team project. Each member starts working on a plate. At the end of the current generation there will be an amazing feast and celebration to pass this on to others.
The name given to the 10 of roots from the Brady Tarot is Wealth. Its a strong tree with deep roots that bears fruit that nourishes many. With this card we also have several symbols illustrating archetypal concepts that will last for generations, and maybe for all time.
This is what the tarot is actually. A set of archetypes and archetypal paths that all humans can relate to. Imagine creating an archetypal system like the tarot! I know! Talk about overachieving.
The Ancestral Path Tarot is a whole deck devoted to the idea of discovering your path to becoming an ancestor. You might even call it a 10 of pentacles Tarot, except that in this deck the pentacles are called Sacred Circles.
The sacred circles suit of this deck are inspired by both a Menominee creation legend of bear and thunder spirit ancestors, and a Winebago medicine song, both of which support the tale of the vision quest.
A vision quest is an intentional journey that is intended to allow you to learn about a higher purpose, and also connect you to the next stage in your own transformation.
One of the most important tools of connection in many Native American cultures is the drum. It measures the heartbeat of the earth. It carries messages with each beat and connects you to the place where the spirits and ancestors are waiting to guide us.
If it all sounds like too much… If even today sounds like too much…. If you feel like you can’t even begin to envision this legacy….find your heartbeat. Beat your drum. It will come back to you, because its something you were born to do.
Here is to your path to legacy and becoming and ancestor. Hell, here’s to all of ours, because if we don’t all take up this mission, I’m not sure what the next generations will have to sustain them.