The history of the Fool is quite interesting. While assigned the number 0, he actually in some decks appears at either the end or the beginning. This is rather remarkable in that he is seen always at the beginning of a journey and when the particular journey ends, he is there again at the beginning. This coincides with the conveyed wisdom, “In the spiritual journey, we are always at the beginning,” and that is one of the spiritual truths of the tarot as evinced by the Fool.
As he starts out on his journey, he carries a sack in which he carries the gifts with which he came into this life. He is essentially alone, but is accompanied by a little white dog which represents his “yapping” primitive self on his journey. The dog essentially is both a challenge and a reminder not to retreat back into his egoic and more primitive state, but to faithfully continue on his journey.
His outfit is that of the jester or fool. He is carefree, free to say or do whatever he wants. His talents as carried in that sack have not been laid down as he has not met the Magician yet who will help him manifest. His gifts are still to be seen.
He represents a new journey, something new with a fresh, spontaneous approach. He can also represent the folly present in any new enterprise. There is a freshness, devil-may-care attitude and he doesn’t care that he is about to jump off the precipice into something unknown. And that is the special gift of the Fool as it most manifests at the end of the 21 steps of his journey. At the end, where in his first journey he might have approached his new beginning with some trepidation, he now knows from meeting up with the other 21 archetypes that he has the necessary faith to carry him as he jumps off the cliff into the boundless. That is the gift he has realized after meeting and experiencing them.
He also knows that the end of his journey is not the dissolution or death of his Self but a deepening realization that continues on through the next phase of his journey. He is an example of being totally in the moment looking anew and eagerly as he next steps into the unknown. What he knows now is that jumping off the cliff is not into a mindless abyss or descent into nothingness, but an ever deepening realization of the Self who continues to be reborn and never dies. When the Fool returns again for his next journey, he makes different decisions, not guided by ordinary conventionality of most people. He has taken on and discarded the masks of the various egoic personalities along the way, experienced the loss and retrieval of his faith, descended into madness and darkness and was then restored innocently to his original self. As shown by his simplicity and the fact that he now chooses to wear the garb of the jester, he is simple again and can laugh at the world as any jester would mock at pretense because he is not dependent on anyone. Someone who might see him now might see him as a person making unconventional decisions bound only by his own innate wisdom. When I began to do the cards, I utilized them in an effort to overcome my identification with my so-called “lower self.” The word transcendence was always in my vocabulary. I see that now as an effort to somehow not accept the “human life,” seeing it as a mere obstacle to realizing my divine nature. That was a mistake. I now know that if I cannot extend compassion to my own never-ending struggle as a human, I cannot make it to the next step of realization. There is no lower self. There is only the Self and the Self does not see distinctions. It sees things wholly. It is our fragmented self who distinguishes. The so-called lower self is not something to be eradicated or destroyed; it is to be integrated and taken back like the prodigal son into the self and welcomed as the teaching device that it is. If one cannot have compassion for one’s failings, how can one ever be a compassionate server of the Divine Will. Finally, the way of the Fool is not to rid himself of his challenges with force and distaste, but to acknowledge them fully and if he chooses, at the end to rid himself of them as if one would discard something that no longer fits or is childish. We can not rout out or destroy that which makes us human. That is not the plan. It is by accepting with compassion the struggles of the human within us that we are raised, integrated and paradoxically, made larger in our spirit. If the Fool chooses to re-enter the world, his behavior is sometimes mocked at for being unconventional, but that is because his mind is always fixed on the present and he faces each situation with a wisdom born of the crucible of his former life.
INTUITION IN ITS MOST HIGHLY DEVELOPED FORM
IS NOTHING LESS THAN THE VOICE OF GOD OR SPIRIT WITHIN.