Tarot Card Meanings: The Fool

When we first pick up a tarot deck, the metaphors are often enigmatic, leaving us feeling as though learning their mysteries is an insurmountable task. The subjects’ distanced faces and their old-world symbols at first give the tarot an aloof vibe. However, their mysteries becomes easier to understand when the cards are seen as different rites of passage in the seeker’s journey.

During different times of the seeker’s life, he or she can be represented by many different cards. A range of personal attributes can be picked up by the cards depending on one’s challenges, frame of mind or aspirations.

Likewise, each card can mean something different depending on when it is pulled and what calls out to the reader at the time. At one time, the colour red may show the reader that the seeker is full of energy; at another time, it may show that more energy is required. Thus, it is best to trust your own intuition when reading, and to be aware of your own personal symbology. This will lead to multilayered reading and deeper insight. Memorising a card’s meaning is important, but so is knowing when the quiet voice of intuition is speaking, nudging you to pick up on something else.

Lastly, interpretation of a card’s meaning can change depending on the deck used. Many decks are based on certain templates, such as the Rider-Waite Smith deck or the Marseilles deck, and so these can be interpreted in similar ways. However, even their readings may differ slightly based on the reader. Therefore, today I am starting with the Rider-Waite Smith deck. We’ll be looking at what can be considered the first and last card of the Major Arcana: The Fool.

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Deck used: The Original Rider Waite Tarot DeckOriginal Rider-Waite.

The light: spontaneity, fearlessness, carpe diem.

The shadows: negligence, vanity, carelessness.

The major arcana represent a cyclical journey, beginning with the innocent, naive Fool as he traverses through the joys and setbacks of life. Initially, we see that the Fool is set against a sunlit background, and he wears a tunic decorated in flowers, representing the flourish that gives way to the fruit of life. He stands at the edge of a precipice as his little dog rears at his feet. Some say that the dog is warning the Fool, others state that he is encouraging him to work through the frightening first step. The mountains behind him can symbolise the trek that he made in order to make this calculated first step, reminding us that the conclusion of one adventure is the beginning of another.

Meanwhile, all he has he carries – his bag and a white rose to represent his purity of intent. It is a good reminder to those of us starting on a journey that we often need less than we think we do in order to make that first step. Further to this, we can interpret that materialism has not yet affected the individual in question, and that the goal could be one of youthful ambition. This card can also represent the gut feeling one has when pursuing a project even though it seems ludicrous to others. In this type of scenario, the individual may be channeling a mystical cleverness devoid of reason. Such a pursuit has also been called a ‘holy madness,’ driving saints on in their mission when others believed it to be unrealistic.

As an individual, The Fool represents the unaffected, untainted soul. He may not be taking a fully practical approach, as he is oblivious to the cares of the world, but he is a dreamer. Because of this, it can be interpreted that this journey starts in utter innocence. He also has a spirit of initiation and spontaneity, displaying the joys of starting a new project. One can enter the journey free from prejudice and with a strong sense of spirit and purpose.

Tarot and Dream Interpretation

Many people who study various esoteric paths soon realise how intertwined each discipline is. Dreams, like Tarot, are filled with our own personal symbology and so convey messages to us on a subconscious level. However, we can use these teachings to better our subconscious lives.

Since I was about 8, I have had dreams about the Holocaust, of hiding in old buildings, of being chased by Nazis. While a past life regression provided me with an explanation for these types of dreams, I often feel drained and hopeless in my waking life after having them. Thus, after a week or so of these types of dreams, I requested a dream that would provide me with the message I need to know in a way that could leave me objective and clear. The one I had last night was blessedly different.

My mom and I were going shopping at a department store that was closing down. We both found that we coveted the same sweater dress, though I wanted it in red and she wanted it in black. The price tag on the red one was unclear, but I already knew the cost. I found I really wanted it because it would make my bust look more prominent. My mom offered to take them to the counter if I would go find my aunt, Trish, who we were meeting. I saw Trish and called out to her, but she didn’t hear me. In the end, she turned around and left. I went after her with no success. So I started to go back to my mom only to find that someone had spilled a chocolate ice cream at the entrance, and big yellow ‘hazardous waste’ tent was put up over the area. The woman setting up the tent  pushed me with the tent’s side and I took refuge in a public toilet.

The area was white and fully tiled, but a bit dated – reminiscent of the malls built in the 1980s. All the toilet stalls were locked from the inside, even though there didn’t seem to be anyone else in there. There was one open toilet stall, but the toilet was filled to the brim with clear water, with no reason for a blockage in sight. When I left the stall, there was only one exit, and it was a different door to the one through which I entered.

The door opened out onto a highway. The air was cold and clean; white snow covered the grass that separated the lanes. Across both lanes of traffic, I saw my old Sunfire, its hood and windscreen embedded in a snowdrift. I went over to it and realised that I didn’t feel confident driving the car myself, and so called a taxi driver. The driver showed up without a car, and looked for all the world like posthumous paintings of Ivan the Terrible – wild eyes and a fur-trimmed coat. I got into the passenger seat of my car and Ivan started hitting on me in Russian, asking me to take my coat off before mumbling something further. When I asked him to repeat himself in Russian, he stopped and got in the car. He sat in the backseat on the driver’s side, pushing the pedals and steering the wheel around the empty driver’s seat. The snowdrift flew off the windscreen, and neither of us seemed willing to take responsibility for the car crash that looked inevitable. 

After interpreting the dream, I turned to the Tarot to discover the most urgent dream element for me to work on. The card that leapt out of my deck was the Six of Swords.

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Deck used: The Original Rider Waite Tarot DeckOriginal Rider Waite

The card indicates moving to a time of serenity and enlightenment. Waters are calmer ahead and the shoreline looks inviting. The three sides of the Earthly self are represented here: the feminine, the masculine, and the childlike. Here, we see the masculine entity acting as the driving force, guiding the other two along. Though it is the feminine and childlike natures at the forefront, they wouldn’t arrive at their destination without the masculine backing. Thus, from this card, I can understand that I will need to let my passive, feminine nature defer its action to my more masculine side. No longer will he be driving unsafely from the back seat; he will be in the position of the acknowledged driving force so I can make progress at this time.