Gather round wayward Fools to listen to a Fool recount the Foolish ways. How long have you traveled? Not long enough! Let us discuss our misplaced ambitions and histories of folly before it is too late! Ha, who am I kidding? There is no severity here. We Fools are like air- abstract and empty. What is there to say about emptiness?….*cricket chirping*…..Vacuous and hence immeasurable; we are the paradox upon the precipice of existence- the gnosis of agnosis- before the first and after the last- zero.
The Fool is marked 0 in the trump series (0-XXI) of the tarot deck, and represents in the cosmic cycle- a primal individuated state which is unestablished beyond the immediacy of self hood. But the unconditioned nature of the Fool contains an essential wisdom Existence not yet obscured by attachments to power or knowledge, nothing hindering the primal experience of being, the Fool has the mad wisdom, the zen wisdom; a childlike nature which still holds the rose of original truth, consciousness, and bliss- guided by an unconscious knowing of Platonic love; veiled as sensual experience.
The Fool is on a quest for experience to fill the existential vacuum born from unconditioned self awareness. The world had been abandoned by the Fool (represented by the preceding card, XXI, “The World” when the trump series is viewed as a cyclical narrative) in order to become individuated from the established whole. The fool left the world in order to find self-hood in the world. Sounds paradoxical and perhaps even foolish, but that is the essential quality after all.
In French the card is titled Le Mat (from Itallian Matto), which means madman or beggar. The Fool is an outsider, intentionally or not, and is often depicted as wondering through nature wearing tattered clothing and carrying a simple staff with bundle attached. The fool would be typically seen away from civilization, likely on a hill somewhere reflecting on beauty. Incidentally, Paul McCartney was inspired to write the song “Fool on the Hill” by walks with his dog on Primrose Hill. Further, Alistair Taylor writes in the book Yesterday, that there was a mysterious incident on one of those walks involving a man who inexplicably appeared and disappeared near he and McCartney just after they were discussing the existence of God.
In many versions of the card, the Fool is shown on the brink of some peril and seemingly unaware of it. Most of the time it is a cliff edge, but occasionally it is a crocodile or some other dangerous animal. In these images there is always a dog accompanying the Fool, usually shown as if barking to alert the Fool of the danger . This is often interpreted as the Fools animal nature, but further it could be seen as a reference to Cynicism- as Diogenes the Cynic lived likewise outside of civilization and taught the simple virtues of being dog-like.
The Fool is associated with Spring, and the Pagan new years of April Fools (am I serious?). The Fool is deeply entrenched in the Dionysian undercurrents-. the fertility of the Green Man, the foolish innocence of Percival, the drunkenness of Bacchus; are but a few of the apparent mythic parallels, and all their exploits may serve to better understand the condition of the Fool. The wandering princess was “always the fool of the family”. but foolishness is holiness; and wholly blessed by nature.
Given the timeless quality of the Fool, one could wonder, is there ever a destination? In a sense, no. We all retain something of this quality, our original move into individuation- that eternal inner child. The destination for the Fool lies within. The destination was with the Fool the entire journey. It is the realization of the Fools own inner qualities (what is inside the bundle?) which brings about personal alchemical transformation- to become the alchemist, the magician; a juggler of the primeval elements of nature.
Why did it take so long to open the bundle? Had she forgotten what she took from world to world? That’s a Fool for ya! 😀 The point of this prolonged wandering was to prepare the Fool for the ultimate quest- to mount “The World” within. It is an alchemical process whereby the universe may be individuated, and then internalized, so as to explore the all/self of existence. No two journeys are alike, but the narrative arcs are self similar. Each is a fractal containing and being contained by the whole *roles eyes*. This germ of awareness is what drove the Fool mad with existence; but through temperance this madness is crafted into magical art forms. *fap fap * 😛
Through foolishness comes cunning. The Fool learns first to apply this craft as the Joker. Comic relief is a portal for transportation and transformation *yawn*. The art of entertaining through jest and satire can be the most revolutionary form of communicating ideas (so stop boring me already :D). The Joker card of standard playing card decks is synonymous with the Fool, but also alludes to the Fool’s future form as the Magician. Marked card I of the trump series, the Magician card is titled Le Bateleur (The Juggler) in the French version, and represents the refinement of magical will in the individual. (oh god, not more fapping!)
In some versions of the Magician card one can see the fool’s bundle in the foreground; its contents emptied out as objects which represent the four suits of the tarot, symbolic of the four elements- wands/fire, cups/water, swords/air, disk/earth. Sorcery is the ability to understand and use the forces of nature to achieve desired ends. In the Fools wanderings these forces had become experienced as governing principles. As Magician, the Fool transmutes this accumulation of personal experience through natural observation in order to understand causes and how to engineer effects. Special effects!
There is a strong Hermetic element to the Magican. Not only in the sense of the Magicians association with the Hermetic Sciences and alchemy, but also for the trickster element which Hermes embodies. If you will recall the first act which Hermes performed after being born. Baby Hermes slipped unnoticed from his sleeping mother and released Apollo’s cattle from their fencing as a practical joke, and what he did with those cattle further emphasizes his cunning. This sort of behavior is revealing of Hermes’ anarchic charms; like the Dionysian currents through which the Fool had traveled, the Hermetic is an ecstatic realm albeit more refined.
As the Magician; the Fool turns the pursuit for pleasure into sexual prowess- the weary journey into athletic skill- the need to beg into thief craft- the alienation from all civilization into travel between worlds- the comic relief into divine comedy! All that was born from primal desires and necessity is given to fruit as self mastery. In many depictions the Magician is wearing a hat, which forms an infinity symbol, or there is an infinity symbol above the head. The eternal knowledge which the Magician posses is indicated by the gesturing of the hands up and down (as above, so below). This is a a knowledge only apprehended through the direct experience of it. That is, one can only come to it through much Foolishness.
So, in the name of all Fools; go forth and be blinded by wondrous unknowing, for everything forgotten shall return in time; but be wary of cliff ledges and crocodiles by listening to your animal instincts; or don’t. Do what ever you want to; which is inevitably guided by forces beyond you, which makes this entire metaphor of a Fool’s journey rather redundant. Well, that’s not the point. It’s something else. It’s not about the information at all. It’s a series of triggering devices, but that is not the point. The point of it has something to do with underlying juxtaposition of living entities within a psychic landscape of signs. What is behind the signs? Where are we really? Do you see this?
It is a stage.
Step off it.
…….Welp, certainly hope those animal instincts kicked in for you there, because you know what? It isn’t the world that’s the stage. It is your mind. The staging that occurs, takes place in your mind as it was conditioned to do so. But those objects of mind were fashioned after the real world; that place which is not staged; where nature rules eternally. There are the real forces which first fashioned all that has been elaborated into abstraction. These forces are as much a part of mind as matter, and your objective now as a Magician is to unify this division.
So, in the name of all Fools deluded enough to think of themselves as Magicians, go forth and be one with the transformations of nature. You are a sorcerer now, and have the ability to do much, much much. I can’t really say what it is you can do, because I don’t know you personally; but I’m sure it’s going to be cool. If you’ve had the patience to read this far through this long winded exorcize then I can guarantee you have the perseverance to do anything you set your pretty little head to. Shit, you could even be the next version of your future self by the time you finish reading this sentence.