Alternate names: Innocence; Spirit of the Aether; Il Matto (Italian for Crazy One); Le Mat (French); The Beggar or The Jester (some 15th century decks); Miserio (Tarocchi of Mantegna); Miseria (Sicilian Tarot); El Loco (Dali)
BASIC DESCRIPTION: The Fool traipses
along, gazing at a sunny sky, carefree, his few possessions in a
bundle, enjoying a rose bloom, playful dog at his feet. Beginning his
What about the cliff? He doesn't even see it. Will he be dead before he even knows what happened? Would that be a bad way to go?
Maybe he knows it's there, and picked that spot to look out and enjoy the world. The viewer doesn't actually know how high it is. Is the dog playing or warning him? Upon closer inspection, I see that the dog is actually smiling, and looking up adoringly at his "master(?)." Maybe there's food in the bag.
He's not of the world.
NUMBER: Zero is the circle--eternal, unending.
TIME: Candlemas/Imbolg to spring equinox, i.e. February, March; also youth
MEANINGS UPRIGHT: Folly, mania, extravagance, intoxication, delirium,
frenzy, bewrayment. Beginnings: cycle, phase, path, journey,
adventure, endeavor, project. New direction, discovery, trailblazing,
expanding horizons, stepping into the unknown, anticipation at the
brink of experience. Originality, spontaneity, impulsiveness,
unexpectedness, living in the moment, being carefree, unconventional,
"... an original, subtle, sudden impulse or impact, coming from a
completely strange quarter." (A.C.) Inhibition, leap of faith, going
with the flow, being joyful, optomistic, innocent, naivé.
Acting the fool, chasing castles in the sky, following a dream.
Initial enthusiasm, fun, energy, potential, exuberance, youthfulness,
inner child. Inspiration, fantasy, revelation, vision, ecstasy.
ALSO: New Aeon. That which endeavours to transcend earth. Comedy and satire, clowns and jesters, entertainers. A willful child. A newbie. Plans with new insights. Risk.
MEANINGS REVERSED: Negligence, absence, distribution, carelessness,
apathy, nullity, vanity. False start, mistaken direction,
wrong choices, bad decisions. Foolish impulses, recklessness,
foolhardy behavior, crazy schemes, time to be practical. Madness,
eccentricity, irrationality, frivolity, wildness. Childishness,
immaturity, irresponsibility, petulance, lack of discipline, lack of
social grace, lack of experience.
ALSO: Buffoon. Bacchic intoxication. Failure to follow instincts; plans or practicality keep one from an opportunity.
BIBLICAL: If any man among you
seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may
be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. --1
ASTROLOGICAL: (1) Aries, the "beginner." (2) Sagittarius--adventurer; (GD) Uranus--rebellion, independence
ANIMAL/INSECT: dolphin; butterfly
PLANT: air plant
MUSIC: "Don't Worry, Be Happy"
OCCUPATIONS: entertainer, itinerant worker, trail guide, "professional student"
PERSONAL THOUGHTS: This card reminds me of Adam and Eve before they ate the fruit, as well as Ulysses, Salvador Dali, Aleister Crowley, Jim Morrison and Ozzy Osbourne.
The Fool has been known to appear at the beginning, middle and end of the major arcana throughout history. The placement of the Fool has had many interpretations. As zero, it has an obvious numerical place at the beginning. As a card of rebirth and zero as a circle/cycle, it can go, not at the end, rather at the next beginning. And so its placement at the end also shows us that the Majors are a cycle. The Fool can also be the second to last card, because the World (or Aeon) is the end of this system--the Unity of One Love All Love. Therefore, the World is outside the cycle, and the Fool, as rebirth or second coming, stands before the end.
This page is excerpted from my original contributions to an online
Tarot course discussion of this card graciously sponsored by