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The Fool. Supposed to represent all who have started their journey with the tarot, or actually anyone who have started anything new. It represents us humans, starting off as innocent, ignorant babies, treading the path of all the Major Arcana cards in life.
For a very long time this was one of my “problem cards”. Why? Because the first time I met him was when I opened my first ever tarot deck (The Ancient Egyptian Tarot, still my favorite working deck), and started reading the meanings of the cards. Under the Fool, you get these lines: “This Arcane, XXII., means that a number of misfortunes are threatening you, and that your only hope is to come to you from Heaven towards which your prayers must rise constantly.” Not a very positive meaning. On the picture you see a man walking towards a crocodile, without noticing the danger. Not exactly a card by which I would want to be described as a beginner reader. But then, this is why you have to constantly read, learn, improve and ask questions.
Luckily my mom had a book on a bunch of different fortune telling systems, and there I have read the “standard” meaning of this little bugger, which is the one with being ignorant and stuff like that. As a beginner, I got confused and decided to stick to whatever was written in the little booklet that came with my cards. Only years later could I accept that there could be other meanings to the Fool, proving that indeed the beginner reader has to be described by him. Oh the shame, the shattered ego….
Since then, I came to a sort of ceasefire with him. Now I want to be the Fool, open to all opportunities and options, but still there is a thorn in me because of the first experience.
As it was a difficult card for me, I was thinking about it a lot. Over time, I have found some characters with whom I can make myself accept and even like the figure of the Fool. I will show you three of them: the Youngest Son, Ganesha and Loki. Three completely different characters from three completely different cultures. I love them all the same.
Let’s start with The Youngest Son. In Hungarian folk tales (actually almost in every nation’s folktales) it is always the youngest son of the king or the poor man, who will at the end overcome all difficulties, save the princess and live happily ever after. How is he related to the Fool?
Before it’s The End, he has to go on a long and dangerous journey. He has to outwit witches (The Magician), meet the other country’s king (The Emperor), slay the Dragon (The Devil), come back from the dead -as sometimes he gets killed by his own brothers- (Moon, Tower, Death), claim his rightful prize and punish the wicked brothers (Justice), marry the princess (Lovers, Sun, Star) and live happily ever after (The World). If I would think about it I am sure I could fit all the Major Arcana cards in these tales.
The second person who helps me to like the Fool is Loki. Mind you, it’s The Loki Laufeyson from the Scandinavian Myths, not the Marvel character. Although the Marvel character is based on Him, Loki being the adopted son of Odin, and all that nonsense made me dislike that story.
I mean, the films were OK, the actor was a good choice, I could see him in the role of the real thing, but still I was distracted from liking it by Thor being blond and all…
*slaps herself back to the topic*
Sorry for my ranting. Loki is very precious to me. I could write pages and pages and MORE PAGES about him, I wrote my final paper on him—
*slaps herself back to the topic again*
So I’m talking about the Scandinavian trickster Loki. He is the Fool in many ways (*concentrating on NOT starting to tell his whole life story*).
He is born to Giant parents, but is considered (up to a degree) to be one of the gods. Just like the Fool, he doesn’t belong anywhere, he is a separate category on his own. He is continuously on the move, just can’t sit down peacefully. He always gets into trouble, but always finds a way out too (well, most of the time). I was thinking of making a tarot deck of my own, and as hard as I tried, I couldn’t fit him in any other Major Arcana card. He just has to be the somewhat innocent, playful, unthinking silly Fool. I have to stop writing about him otherwise I will go astray again.
The third one is the Hindu god Ganesha. Although in his established status he is more likely to be the Hierophant or even the World, Ganesha’s story also starts as the Fool. In a nutshell, he was created by Parvati, wife of the god Shiva. Parvati wanted to soak in a nice hot bath and have some “me time”, but her husband never let her be alone. So, she created Ganesha, who had a normal, human head that time. She told him that he is not to let ANYONE in the bath chamber. As a newborn, he was innocent and without knowledge of how the things were run around there. You can see why he was the Fool at it’s best. So, he was standing guard at the door, when Shiva arrived. He of course wanted to go inside, but Ganesha didn’t let him. After trying to explain Ganesha that he is not just anyone, but he is the husband of Parvati, Shiva got angry, and beheaded the boy. Parvati came out of the bath and demanded that Shiva restored Ganesha into life. That was somewhat difficult, because Shiva hit him so hard, the boy’s head got lost in space. After some troubles they finally have put an Elephant’s head on his shoulders, and voila! Ganesha the wise and kind was created. From that time on he is considered to be Shiva’s son and he is to be revered first in every ritual performed in Hindu traditions.
(I really hope no one gets hurt by me calling Ganesha the Fool. I don’t mean any harm, the Fool in this sense is only to demonstrate how innocent he was that time.)
As you can see, it was a LONG journey for me to accept and start to like the card of the Fool. But, as it is so important with all the other cards too, associations helped me in beating my dislike for him. I hope this short summary helps every beginner reader to find their ways in accepting the problematic cards in tarot. After all, you all have to work together if you want to join in the journey of the Fool.
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