I'm starting off my card-by-card series, A Closer Look, with the Fool (of course I had to, on April Fool's Day!) With A Closer Look, I'll provide a quick run-down of keyword meanings for those looking for a quick and accessible way to use the card, as well as my own impressions for a more nuanced approach.
Key words and concepts
- Fresh starts
- Renewed energy
- Youthful beginnings
- Lack of Fear
The Fool is number 0, meaning that it is both the beginning of the tarot (the trumps being numbered 0-21) and still outside of our normal numbering system. When I'm looking at trump cards, then, I see the traditionally-numbered cards as archetypes and rites of passage in an ostensibly universal life course. The Fool, being outside this progression, symbolizes ourselves, and the one who actually experiences the life described by the Major Arcana.
A truly excellent tarot reader can see both the positive and negative potential of any card, but I have to confess that I have a hard time embracing the Fool's downsides. Oh, they're there, alright: the Fool can be naive to the point of stupidity, and he can make some pretty risky, brash decisions, but in the end, I'm always charmed by his whimsy.
Here's the Fool from my Universal Rider-Waite; look at that sassy face! This is a guy who is totally convinced that his teenage poems are great works of literature, and has no idea that those fabulous sleeves really aren't doing him any favors. But I just can't help but get swept up in his energy. I want to fling my arms open with the same abandon, puff my chest out with the same innocent pride, and tumble head-first over the first cliff I come to (with my poor, nervous dog nipping at my heels).
The Fool signifies innocence and new beginnings, and the risks and ignorance that come with it. It is certainly not a guarantee or intrinsically positive, but for me, there is a palpable optimism to this card.