0.The Fool

0.The FoolThe Fool, le Mat or the Jester is one of the 78 cards in a Tarot deck; one of the 22 Trump cards that make up the Major Arcana. The Fool is unnumbered (sometime represented as 0–the first—or XXII–the last—Major Arcana in decks). Many symbols of the Instituted Mysteries are summarized in this card, which reverses, under high warrants, all the confusions that have preceded it.


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. A dog appears on most versions of the card. Some versions of the dog depict him biting at The Fool. The dog as a polysemy symbolizes the natural world, devotion and faithfulness, wildness and primordiality, the converse of wildness being tamed, one path to knowledge and a valuable ally; he can be seen as providing The Fool with a “reality check,” a link to the everyday world, indeed this is what the dog did for the Saint Kukuraja.


In occult tarot, the Fool is usually considered part of the “major arcana”. This is not true in the tarot game itself; the Fool's role in the game is independent of both the suit cards and the trump cards, and the card does not belong to either category. Technically, the Fool is very much akin to the “Jester” or “Wild Card” in regular playing cards. As such, most tarot decks originally made for game playing do not assign a number to the Fool indicating its rank in the suit of trumps; it has none. It usually has a star in French Tarot. Waite gives the Fool the number 0, but in his book discusses the Fool between Judgment, no. 20, and The World, no. 21.


In many esoteric systems of interpretation, the Fool is usually interpreted as the protagonist of a story, and the Major Arcana is the path the Fool takes through the great mysteries of life and the main human archetypes. This path is known traditionally in Tarot as the Fool´s Journey, and is frequently used to introduce the meaning of Major Arcana cards to beginners.
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 fearlessly begins the journey into the unknown. To do this, he does not regard the world he knows as firm and fixed. He has a seemingly reckless disregard for obstacles. In order to explore and expand, one must disregard convention and conformity. Those in the throes of convention look at the unconventional, non-conformist personality and think “What a fool”. They lack the point of view to understand The Fool's actions. But The Fool has roots in tradition as one who is closest to the spirit world.
In many tribal cultures, those born with strange and unusual character traits were held in awe. Shamans were people who could see visions and go on journeys that we now label hallucinations and schizophrenia. Those with physical differences had experience and knowledge that the average person could not understand.
The Fool is God. The number of the card is zero, which when drawn is a perfect circle. This circle represents both emptiness and infinity. The Fool is not shackled by mountains and valleys or by his physical body. He does not accept the appearance of cliff and air as being distinct or real.


When you receive The Fool in a reading, you are ready to begin The Fool's Journey into the unknown, a new beginning or change of direction. The Fool's originality, enthusiasm, sense of adventure and faith in the world are yours.
The Upright Fool card represents a new beginning, a fresh start in any aspect of our life. When this card is drawn, we are faced with important choices and decisions which need to be made as we begin this new life-cycle and to deal with any difficult challenges along the way. The Fool tells us to face these challenges with energy, optimism and faith, which will ensure a positive outcome. It also points out that we must develop faith in our abilities to make the right choices, to keep the faith, and to walk our own unique path with optimism and hope. If you are facing a decision or moment of doubt, the Fool tells you to believe in yourself and follow your heart no matter how crazy or foolish your impulses may seem.
The Reversed Fool card gives us a clear warning that we must resist the temptation to act recklessly or immaturely in any new situation. We must accept our responsibilities and commitments and honor them wholely. Due consideration is required – problems and indiscretions resulting from impatience or impulsiveness are indicated. It also shows inhibitions that are caused by mental, emotional and physical restraints and tensions. We are burdened with a sense of obligation towards society and our daily duties.

Opposing cards

Hierophant – following convention, routine
Death – ending, closing down
Devil – feeling cynical, lacking faith
Two of Swords – blocking off experience, feeling tense, holding back
Four of Pentacles – order and regularity

Reinforcing cards

Hanged Man – having faith in what is, going with the flow
Star – innocence, faith, trust
Judgement – rebirth, new starts
Three of Wands – expanding horizons, going into unexplored territory

Alternative decks

The Vikings Tarot portrays Loki as the Fool, with a mistletoe in one hand and a fishing-net in the other.
Aleister Crowley's Thoth Tarot Fool is walking on air, a symbol of “the creative Light”, according to Crowley. Linked to the Universe card, coins of the planets and zodiac in his satchel, he embodies all of the twenty-two trump cards and none.
In the Trinity Blood tarot deck Abel Nightroad is depicted as the Fool card.
H. R. Giger's set depicts the Fool sitting in a chair, wearing headphones, with a woman straddling him (visible from the lower torso down), facing away with her bare buttocks directly in front of his face. He is holding a pistol-gripped shotgun with the barrel in his mouth.
In the Shakespeare Tarot, the Fool is depicted by Falstaff.
In the Mythic Tarot deck, the Fool is depicted by Dionysus.


Card Number: 0
Key Number: 11
Rulership: Air
Hebrew Letter: Aleph
Translation: Ox
Numerical Value: 3


Herb: Peppermint
Incense: Allspice
Oil: Sandalwood
Gemstone: Clear Quartz




And I saw another man.
Tired and lame he dragged himself along the dusty road, across the deserted plain under the scorching rays of the sun. He glanced sidelong with foolish, staring eyes, a half smile, half leer on his face; he knew not where he went, but was absorbed in his chimerical dreams which ran constantly in the same circle. His fool's cap was put on wrong side front, his garments were torn in the back; a wild lynx with glowing eyes sprang upon him from behind a rock and buried her teeth in his flesh. He stumbled, nearly fell, but continued to drag himself along, all the time holding on his shoulder a bag containing useless things, which he, in his stupidity, carried wherever he went.
Before him a crevice crossed the road and a deep precipice awaited the foolish wanderer. Then a huge crocodile with open mouth crawled out of the precipice. And I heard the voice say:–
“Look! This is the same man.”
I felt my head whirl.
“What has he in the bag?” I inquired, not knowing
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why I asked. And after a long silence the voice replied: “The four magic symbols, the sceptre, the cup, the sword and the pentacle. The fool always carries them, although he has long since forgotten what they mean. Nevertheless they belong to him, even though he does not know their use. The symbols have not lost their power, they retain it in themselves. The Symbolism of the Tarot by P D. Ouspensky (1913)

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