I have been working a lot with my cards and runes lately and it dawned on me that not everyone knows what each one of the Arcana means, or even what the suits mean themselves. So I decided I would make an intro to Tarot Cards and Runes for you all. This will be a lengthy series that will take a look at their traditional/universal meanings and the history behind each one. I will be using the cards I frequently read for myself, the imagery in the Wild Unknown really speaks to me personally. But I will also include the traditional images everyone is used to as well. Please note that in the Wild Unknown deck the artist and creator of the deck does not have the meanings for this deck in their reverse position, so I will be adding that part for additional information.
You have drawn the Fool, what does it mean?
THE FOOL CARD MEANING: Traditionally in your normal deck.
The Fool card in Tarot symbolizes new beginnings. The basic meaning of the card is that the Fool is on his way to a new beginning, and he has all he needs or wants as indicated by the bag on the staff. The Fool is shown in colorful clothes with a pack tied to his staff, a dog at his heels, and a cliff. The Tarot story of the Fool is that he travels aimlessly with all his worldly possessions. A daydreamer lost in his thoughts, he does not see the cliff and is likely to fall over. The dog at his heels tries to warn him.
The Fool : Wild Unknown Tarot
Artist/Creator’s meaning for it in the deck: Innocence, naivety, starting out, & spontaneity.
One interpretation of the Wild Unknown Tarot is this:
Our fool is a baby chick perched on a tree branch, one foot stretched out as though he is about to step off. Buds and blossoms are unfolding on the tree branch. It is spring-time, and the world is brimming with new life. Potential is bursting forth everywhere! Even the chick itself is a form of fresh, invigorating energy – a spring chicken, as they say.
The sky is orange and yellow, as though the sun is just starting to climb up the horizon. This brings to mind the metaphoric resonance of ‘the dawn of a new day.’ Sunrise is a time of adventure and potential. Where might this new day, this fresh blooming energy take you? The possibilities are truly endless.
The Fool is not concerned with yesterday or tomorrow – the Fool is immersed in the now. And it is always the now, as one moment gives way to the next. The Fool reminds you to place your attention here, in the present moment.
The chick and the branch are black and white. The bright white of the branch makes it look charged with pure energy. As the bright colors of dawn descend along the horizon, they give way to black lines near the bottom of the card. What might be in this black void? You simply don’t know. The Fool is literally heading out into the wild unknown.
There is an interesting use of lines in the Wild Unknown tarot. The direction of lines in the cards give clues to the energy the cards hold. In the Fool, the sky is lined horizontally. These static, horizontal lines seem to me to represent energy that is still free-flowing; the energy is there, but hasn’t yet been guided into a particular direction. This fits in well with the Fool, a card brimming with limitless, not yet fully directed universal energy.
The Fool Tarot Card Meanings in General
In many classic tarot decks, the Fool shows a person who looks poised to walk off a cliff – similar to this Fool, who is poised to walk off the branch and into that black void of the unknown. In fact, taking a leap into the unknown is a core message of the Fool in any tarot deck. This card speaks of pure, unbridled potential. In order for that potential to take shape, risks are required. Taking a leap doesn’t necessarily guarantee a favorable outcome. But if you never leap, you remain stuck on the precipice, never fully immersing yourself in all that life has to offer.
The Fool is card 0, giving it a special role in any tarot deck. Without a fixed number, the Fool is unbound and free, often thought to represent each of us as we journey through life. In some tarot traditions, the Fool is considered to be the character who encounters the various lessons that we see in the rest of the cards. In a spiritual sense, the Fool is infinite universal energy. The Fool is the creative force that animates the entire universe. Without this undirected universal energy, no other manifestations of creation would be possible. The Fool is the energetic magic that allows the entire adventure of life come into being.
In a reading
In a reading, this card can ask you to consider the timeless conundrum of the Fool: are you naïve, about to leap unprepared and face disaster? Or are you filled with a spiritual trust that the universe will support your leap? The Fool asks you to tune into your primal instincts instead of overthinking.
The Fool is also a reminder that there are no right or wrong decisions. The most important thing, the Fool might advise you, is to say YES to life in whatever way feels expansive for you. Sometimes your best option is to remain on the branch until you are ready. But more often, the Fool nudges you to open your heart, set out, and trust that whatever happens from there is a meaningful adventure.
When the Fool card is upright in a Tarot reading, it symbolizes new beginnings, new adventures, new opportunities, unlimited possibilities, pleasure, passion, thoughtlessness, and rashness. The warning associated with this card could be that you need to stop daydreaming, and you should watch where you are going or you could fall and seem like a fool.
When the Fool card is reversed in a Tarot reading, it symbolizes a bad decision, indecision, apathy, hesitation, and a faulty choice. It can be a new beginning you’re not thrilled about.
The Fool when it comes to Love
The Fool card in a Tarot love reading is exciting. If you’re single, a fun, wild, lively romance might be right around the corner. If you’re in a relationship, it means you’re so stoked about this love of yours that you are kind of freaking out over it, but not in a bad way! Embrace it.
The Fool’s History
The Fool or The Jester is one of the 78 cards in a tarot deck. In tarot card reading, it is one of the 22 Major Arcana, sometimes numbered as 0 (the first) or XXII (the last). However, in decks designed for playing traditional tarot card games, it is typically unnumbered, as it is not one of the 21 trump cards and instead serves a unique purpose by itself.
The Fool is titled Le Mat in the Tarot of Marseilles, and Il Matto in most Italian language tarot decks. These archaic words mean “the madman” or “the beggar”, and may be related to the word for ‘checkmate’ in relation to the original use of tarot cards for gaming purposes.
In the earliest tarot decks, the Fool is usually depicted as a beggar or a vagabond. In the Visconti-Sforza tarot deck, the Fool wears ragged clothes and stockings without shoes, and carries a stick on his back. He has what appear to be feathers in his hair. His unruly beard and feathers may relate to the tradition of the woodwose or wild man. Another early Italian image that relates to the tradition is the first (and lowest) of the series of the so-called Tarocchi of Mantegna. This series of prints containing images of social roles, allegorical figures, and classical deities begins with Misero, a depiction of a beggar leaning on a staff. A similar image is contained in the German Hofämterspiel; there the fool (German: Narr) is depicted as a barefoot man in robes, apparently with bells on his hood, playing a bagpipe.
The Tarot of Marseilles and related decks similarly depict a bearded person wearing what may be a jester‘s hat; he always carries a bundle of his belongings on a stick (called a bindle) slung over his back. He appears to be getting chased away by an animal, either a dog or a cat. The animal has torn his pants.
In the Rider-Waite Tarot deck and other esoteric decks made for cartomancy, the Fool is shown as a young man, walking unknowingly toward the brink of a precipice. In the Rider-Waite deck, he is also portrayed as having with him a small dog. The Fool holds a white rose (a symbol of freedom from baser desires) in one hand, and in the other a small bundle of possessions, representing untapped collective knowledge.
In the decks before Waite-Smith, the Fool is almost always unnumbered. There are a few exceptions: some old decks (including the 15th-century Sola Busca) labelled the card with a 0, and the 18th-century Belgian decks labelled the Fool as XXII.The Fool is almost always completely apart from the sequence of trumps in the historic decks. Still, there is historic precedent for regarding it as the lowest trump and as the highest trump.
With light step, as if earth and its trammels had little power to restrain him, a young man in gorgeous vestments pauses at the brink of a precipice among the great heights of the world; he surveys the blue distance before him-its expanse of sky rather than the prospect below. His act of eager walking is still indicated, though he is stationary at the given moment; his dog is still bounding. The edge which opens on the depth has no terror; it is as if angels were waiting to uphold him, if it came about that he leaped from the height. His countenance is full of intelligence and expectant dream.
He has a rose in one hand and in the other a costly wand, from which depends over his right shoulder a wallet curiously embroidered. He is a prince of the other world on his travels through this one-all amidst the morning glory, in the keen air.
The sun, which shines behind him, knows whence he came, whither he is going, and how he will return by another path after many days. He is the spirit in search of experience. Many symbols of the Instituted Mysteries are summarized in this card, which reverses, under high warrants, all the confusions that have preceded it.
In his Manual of Cartomancy, Grand Orient has a curious suggestion of the office of Mystic Fool, as apart of his process in higher divination; but it might call for more than ordinary gifts to put it into operation. We shall see how the card fares according to the common arts of fortune-telling, and it will be Zero. The Fool is an example, to those who can discern, of the fact, otherwise so evident, that the Trumps Major had no place originally in the arts of psychic gambling, when cards are used as the counters and pretexts. Of the circumstances under which this art arose we know, however, very little. The conventional explanations say that the Fool signifies the flesh, the sensitive life, and by a peculiar satire its subsidiary name was at one time the alchemist, as depicting folly at the most insensate stage.
The fool can be both good and bad, depending on how it lands in the drawn cards, the layout, and if it is up right or reversed. It is an understated and powerful card with in the deck, much like the Hermit, it has unlimited potential within a reading for someone.
Until Next Time,