The Fools Journey

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Image courtesy of Ciro Marchetti

One aspect of learning to read Tarot cards is to understand the journey through the Major and Minor Arcana. Remembering how far the Fool has travelled or what his experiences are on a certain stage of his path can add another layer to your interpretation of a card when it appears in a spread.

Here we look at the Major Arcana and the Journey of the Fool.

Card 0 The Fool

The first thing we notice about this card is that it isn’t number 1. There is a good reason for this. Number 1 indicates that the journey has commenced. If we look at the artwork on the card, the Fool is often seen standing on a precipice ready to jump into the unknown, his loyal little dog ready to follow him. This tells us that he is about to begin his journey but he hasn’t – not yet. The word ‘Fool’ also relates to jumping into the unknown. He isn’t stupid – he is innocent. He has no idea what lies ahead of him which means that he may make ‘FOOLISH’ mistakes. However, making mistakes and living with the consequences, is how we learn so if he entered this journey with prior knowledge, he may actively avoid the things that will trigger his spiritual growth.

Card 1 The Magician

So begins the journey. Lets think about the role of the Magician. A conjurer. Someone with the power and ability to manifest things. Now that the Fool has started his journey he can make things happen. He has yet to be worn down by disappointments and the stresses and strains of every day life, he has no experience of hurt so his energy is strong and he enters everything with a positive attitude and no doubts whatsoever. When the Magician appears in your reading he is urging you to do the same.

Card 2 The High Priestess

When the Fool encounters The High Priestess she signifies the anima, or idealised female of the male psyche. He may project his ideal onto her. She is wise and offers good counsel.

Card 3 The Empress

The Empress is the ‘Mother’ figure. When the Fool encounters her, he learns about birth, nurturing, fertility, and sexual desirability. She is caring and protective, she guides and teaches him. She represents a warm loving and secure home.

Card 4 The Emperor

The Emperor represents success. He is strong, sometimes dominant and controlling, but in a fatherly way. He teaches the Fool about the responsibilities of being a man and a father.

Card 5 The Hierophant

When the Fool encounters the Hierophant (also known as ‘Faith’) he discovers religion and spirituality. He now finds himself seeking guidance and the wisdom of others who have followed a spiritual path.

Card 6 the Lovers

At first glance the Lovers card appears to be about a significant relationship. However it is more about choices, which is why in some decks there appears to be three people. It could be that there is a choice to be made or advice is being sought from a third party.

Card 7 The Chariot

When the Fool reaches this stage in his journey he is moving fast. He has experienced successes, he has resolved conflicts and life is challenging him – but had to take the initiative for this to happen. He didn’t sit and wait for success, he climbed aboard his ‘Chariot’ and sped off in search of it.

Card 8 Strength

When the Fool finds his inner strength he learns to rise above emotions and desires and apply himself to the tasks ahead of him. This is an extension of the self and the lesson he received from the Chariot. He must now use fortitude and patience to receive the desired outcome that is just beyond the horizon.

Card 9 the Hermit

Sometimes the Fool needs to walk a solitary path. This card is based on a journey taken by the questionnaire alone. This is a path that requires the Fool to become ‘Hermit-like’ and seek answers from within, he must listen to that all important inner voice, trust in his own intuition and find the answers he seeks without outside guidance or intervention. We all have an inner voice. It must never be ignored.

Card 10 The Wheel

Fate and destiny are the lesson of this card. It shows the connection of everything in life, and is a direct link to the circle of life and the scales of balance and karma. There is a cycle for everything and the Fool gets back what he invests. So if he has invested well then he can expect good things, and vice versa. The most important message from the Wheel is that it turns BOTH ways and can change direction very quickly.

Card 11 Justice

We are all accountable for our actions and this card represents the day when the Fool may be called upon to explain himself. This could be in the form of legal or official matters, documents or certificates, lawsuits or investigations, or perhaps mediation in family issues.

Card 12 The Hanging Man

The Fool has stalled on his journey. When we think of someone ‘hanging’ we often imaging the gallows and a noose. This is not the case with the Hanging Man. Look at the artwork. He is hanging upside down, the rope tied around one leg. Sometimes the coins from his pockets have fallen out and are scattered on the ground around him. Imagine hanging in that position. You may feel unable to break free so you just hang there and feel sorry for yourself. Sometimes when we don’t have a clue what to do for the best we simply do nothing. He is feeling full of self pity, restricted by life’s limitations, real or imagined.

Card 13 Death

Another card that conjures up an unpleasant image. But in the case of the Fools Journey this is about transformation, not actual death. Sometimes certain aspects of our lives need to fall away or ‘die off’ in order to make way for new growth and experiences. If we look at the Hanging Man he was stagnant. This is not healthy, so in order to move forward he needs to let go of the energies that left him ‘Hanging’ and restart his journey in a new direction.

Card 14 Temperance

So the Hanging Man was a valuable lesson for the Fool. He found himself there due to his own choices and decisions and Death transformed the situation and freed him. The lesson he learned was Temperance. Balance, all things in moderation. Finding the right blend. If we look at this card, Temperance is often depicted as a lady holding two vessels of liquid, pouring one from the other over and over. The Alchemist. She takes what she has, mixes it up and makes it work. She blends good and not so good, old and new. The key thing is that she is always blending, always seeking balance not stagnating. Also remember; To ‘seek’ is to search and find. To ‘look’ is to do nothing more than ‘look’ indicating that you may never find what you are ‘looking’ for….

Card 15 The Devil

Does this card represent evil? Not really. Fears are only scary when they’re buried inside of us. Once we can face our fears then we can see that our own personal Devil is not so scary after all – and that’s when we can break free from him and move forward. The Devil is often depicted as a puppeteer, pulling the strings of our lives. He only has power if he give it to him. When the Fool faces his fears he can break free. The Fools encounter with the Devil urges him to cut the ties to the things that do not serve him well. It reminds him that he is the author of his own destiny and he not governed by the ‘strings’ that attach him to his past experiences or outside influences.

FEAR: False Evidence Appearing Real

Card 16 The Tower

To many, the Tower is the scariest and most dreaded card in the Tarot. When the Tower falls and brings everything crashing down around it, the aftermath is often life changing. However, change be good. Clearing the old to make way for the new can be healthy. We fear change because it takes us out of our comfort zone. It forces us to think outside of the box we have built around ourselves. Sometimes we can be so resistant to growth that we limit ourselves and fail to reach our full potential as spiritual beings. When the Fool reaches the Tower his life is going to be shaken up and things will never be the same again.

Card 17 The Star

When the Tower has come crashing down around him, all that the Fool has left is HOPE. A time of peace and liberation is finally in sight. The Star is a beautiful card to find in any spread, regardless of its position, as it offers faith, hope and optimism. The Fool may be inspired to create, discover a new love of nature, or perhaps take a closer look at all things metaphysical. The Tower needed to fall to make way for this new energy. In many ways the Star represents the Phoenix rising from the ashes of the ruined Tower.

Card 18 The Moon

Although the Fool has now arrived at a new place on his journey, he is still often haunted by his past experiences. Mood swings, uncertainty, unpredictability all manifest as a result of fears, imagination and terror, which could be real or imagined. Things deeply submerged in the subconscious come to the surface. Paranoia, illusions, delirium and nightmares. Dreams are often the minds way of processing what happens when we are awake. The mind uses sleep as a time to download and process new information. It can often take 72 hours or three sleep cycles to fully process this new information. The recent events of the Tower are still fresh in his mind so are bound to take a toll on his state of being. This is normal.

Card 19 The Sun

No matter how bad things are, the Sun always rises on another day. This is probably the nicest card to find in a spread as it denotes good news no matter where it is laid, even in the reversed position its good.The Fool is now looking at life with renewed optimism, much like the innocence of a child. His optimism may be contagious and his attitude may bring joy and happiness to others around him. He is pleased to share his good fortune with others and seeks to dispel doom and gloom in friends and family.

Card 20 Judgement

The Fool is approaching the end of his journey and he now finds himself at the day of Judgement. He can look back over his life and see that for every action there is a reaction. His life choices and actions have brought him to where he now finds himself and he is living with the consequences, both good and bad. In hindsight he is better able to identify life changing experiences. Perhaps something or someone was a catalyst for his change, they may have provoked new levels of thought or feeling, made him rethink old and outdated views and opinions or maybe current circumstances no longer permit old attitudes and habits.

Card 21 The World

All good things come in time. What goes around comes around. The only thing we can be sure of is change. The major Arcana card of the World is about completion. Finally reaching a goal that you may have at times thought was out of your reach forever. You are now at a point in your life where you can sit back and feel a sense of achievement. You worked hard to get here, time to enjoy the fruits of your labour.
This card can also represent the bringing together of opposites. Integration with others and matters handled with integrity. This is a very positive card. Although this is the final card of the Major Arcana, it represents the end of a cycle not the end of the journey. Life is full of cycles of within cycles and the World appearing in a reading indicates the completion of just one.

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