Card Meaning: 0 The Fool

The Fool
Element: Air
Planet: Uranus
Hebrew letter: Aleph, א


   The Fool, in some decks labeled "The Jester" is the first card of the Major Arcana and is usually numbered zero, or unnumbered. Number zero stands for umanifested potential, condition where there is no hope or fear that can blur the vision, The Fool sees infinite possibilities as current reality. Zero is empty, it lacks a hard substance so, there is yet a work to be done. Other cards of Major Arcana are traditionally numbered with Roman numerals while The Fool is numbered with Arabic numeral. One could see connection between Arabic numeral 0 and form of the egg, symbol of beginning. The essence of this card is formless, nothing really dies or gets born, it only changes the form, this is what this card is trying to convey. The Fool stands at the beggining of our journey, before taking the form, he is the spirit in search of experience and as such he is the initiator of happenings that occur in next 21 cards of Major Arcana. If you belive in incarnation, you could see The Fool as a soul prior to its rebirth. Considered somewhat innocent, he has a zest and energy for the new beggining. Someone would say that innocence sustains him and brings him joy. Fresh and carefree, he is entering the World without preconceptions. He has the mystical insight bereft of worldly reason, the mystic ability to tune into the inner workings of the world. Nothing is certain or regular with this card. The Fool trusts in life and counts on his boldness and faith to make his path a happy and rewarding one. There is a solid faith in success that completes absence of fear. In medieval courts, the court jester was someone who was not expected to follow the same rules as others. He could observe and then poke fun. In Shakespeare's "King Lear", the only one who will tell the king what is really going on is the jester. This makes the Fool unpredictable and full of surprises but also too carefree. This is the child within. This is how we were before the many experiences of life forced us to build up so many walls around us.


  In the decks before Waite-Smith, The Fool is almost always unnumbered but in some decks like the Belgian Tarot deck, it carries the number XXII and it is the last card of the deck. In historic decks The Fool is almost always disjunct from the rest of the Major Arcana, still, there is historic precedent for regarding it as the lowest trump and as the highest trump. In Tarot of Marseilles and in most Italian language tarot decks The Fool is titled "The Madman" or "The Beggar". It is probably connected with the fact that in earlier period The Fool is usually depicted as a beggar wearing ragged clothes, without shoes, carrying a stick with his belongings on his back . In some of the earliest Italians decks Tarrochi de Mantegna, The Fool is connected with a social role of Misero, depicted as a beggar leaning on a stuff. A similar role for The Fool is contained in German Hofamterspiel where The Fool (Narr) is a barefoot man playing a bagpipe. In Oswald Wirth tarot the crocodile can be seen in the distance, but somewhat afraid of The Fool and strength that can be felt from within him, also, The Fool wears a mask, maybe to hide the formlessness of the bearer.


In readings, The Fool can signal a new beginning or a change of direction - one that will guide you onto a path of an adventure, wonder and personal growth or... maybe not. The choice is infront of you. Learn to choose wisely because The Fool has a shade of restlessness and recklesness inside. Keep your faith and trust your natural responses. Believe in yourself and follow your heart no matter how crazy or foolish your impulses may seem. You have everything to discern what is best for you. Faith, heart and personal integrity can lead you a long way where the eyes can't see. If reversed, watch for immature and reckless behaviour that can result in making bad decisions. Do you need to re-evaluate something? Maybe you are too conservative or traditional in some part of your life. Are your plans based on pure fantasy? That are the questions you need to answer.

young man in colorful clothes, staff, a small dog, a steep cliff, eye on a bag

  A young man dressed in a remarkable gown with a backpack over his right shoulder, a white rose in his left hand. He is standing on the very edge of a cliff which is beginning to crumble, but his body language indicates that he is unaware of the danger. The Sun is strong above his head and in background there is a huge blue mountain. There is a small dog at his heels trying to warn him off of the danger symbolizing lower incarnation. The dog is sometimes seen as his animal desires, sometimes as the call of the "real world", nipping at his heels and distracting him. But he is looking upwards, not really interested about the distractions in material world. The dog can also symbolize intellect, a good companion that ultimatly needs to have a master. Symbolism of this card encompasses all Creation. All four elements are embodied in this scenery. Sun high above is The Fire, cliff beneath is The Earth, The Water is contained in the icy peaks behind. The Air is the height of the cliff he stands on. The young man has a mark of zero on him. Zero puts him out of the domain of other cards. He has no identity that is apprehensible by common human mind. The Hebrew letter that goes with this card is Aleph. The Aleph has no sound connected with it. It is silence before sound. Significance of Aleph grows as we gain understanding that The Fool stands in position that resembles Aleph. Aleph thus symbolizes stillness before action, potential before manifestation. It was written in the Bible that in beggining there was a sound. A moment before manifestation of the universe, a moment before very embodiment of a soul, that is the symbolism of The Fool. No wonder that in this seed of existence there are all four elements, all that is needed for myriad manifestations of Spirit. Next clue about this card is Fool's robe. If you pay attention on details you can see that there are twelve circles resemblings stars on his clothes. Twelve stars as twelve signs of the Zodiac, twelve tribes of Israel. In a way, we can say The Fool is dressed in the physical universe. His bag is suspended on no ordinary stick, it is a black wand, representing the power of Spirit holding the bag, the bag that is full of the Fool's possesions and the gift of Spirit - the unlimited potential. You can see the image of the eagle, representing Fool's awakeness. In his hand he holds white flower, indicating Fool's purity and innocence. The Sun shining bright above him represents divine nature of The Fool's wisdom and exuberant life energy filling the card's scenery.

With light step, as if earth and its trammels had little power to restrain him, a young man in gorgeous vestments pauses at the brink of a precipice among the great heights of the world; he surveys the blue distance before him-its expanse of sky rather than the prospect below. His act of eager walking is still indicated, though he is stationary at the given moment; his dog is still bounding. The edge which opens on the depth has no terror; it is as if angels were waiting to uphold him, if it came about that he leaped from the height. His countenance is full of intelligence and expectant dream. He has a rose in one hand and in the other a costly wand, from which depends over his right shoulder a wallet curiously embroidered. He is a prince of the other world on his travels through this one-all amidst the morning glory, in the keen air. The sun, which shines behind him, knows whence he came, whither he is going, and how he will return by another path after many days. He is the spirit in search of experience. Many symbols of the Instituted Mysteries are summarized in this card, which reverses, under high warrants, all the confusions that have preceded it.

In his Manual of Cartomancy, Grand Orient has a curious suggestion of the office of Mystic Fool, as apart of his process in higher divination; but it might call for more than ordinary gifts to put it into operation. We shall see how the card fares according to the common arts of fortune-telling, and it will be an example, to those who can discern, of the fact, otherwise so evident, that the Trumps Major had no place originally in the arts of psychic gambling, when cards are used as the counters and pretexts. Of the circumstances under which this art arose we know, however, very little. The conventional explanations say that the Fool signifies the flesh, the sensitive life, and by a peculiar satire its subsidiary name was at one time the alchemist, as depicting folly at the most insensate stage.

The Pictorial Key to the Tarot, by A.E. Waite

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