Before we start, I would like to talk about how to read the cards. Taking on the reading of the cards may be overwhelming, like learning a whole new language.
One of my best teachers in this was a woman named Kafi Gaultier, who gave me a reading at the Higher Self bookstore in Traverse City, MI. She told me that she learned by taking a card out in the morning, and meditating on it. She gave me these questions to consider:
1) What detail of the card stands out to you?
2) What does the detail mean to you?
3) What is the card trying to tell you?
Put these questions in the crock-pot in the kitchen of your mind and just go on about your day. At the end of the day, look at the card again. Did anything happen to you that made you think of the card, or is symbolized by the card? What is the card trying to tell you now?
She highly recommended keeping a journal for insights. A card's meanings can change with the day.
The first card in the Tarot deck is The Fool. It is the zero point (literally, as it is not technically card number 1, but card 0), and the vector from which the human consciousness travels.
Why is The Fool 0, and not 1? Without zero, there can be no tens, hundreds, or thousands. It is the base of the ladder.
The name is also misleading. The Fool is only naive, ignorant, or stupid in the Shadow, or dark side, of its aspect. The light side of the Fool is a new baby. Babies are not stupid; they simply are completely blank. everything they see and experience as they grow is a gentle brushstroke on a palette--sometimes those brushstrokes are primary colors (colors we can safely associate with the Fool, because they are the bases from which all other colors are created), sometimes soft pastels, and sometimes slashes of black ink. There is still a lot of white space between these contrasts. All these colors and empty spaces paint a personality. The Fool, then, is a clean sheet of paper--full of possibilities.
The Celtic Fool, Illustrated by Mary Guinan
When the Fool comes to visit someone who sees herself as jaded or in pain, it is very comforting. In these circumstances, the Fool is fresh, clean snow. This blanket of snow is cleansing and helps the dead mulch of sadness or anger or past mistakes break down into fodder for the flowers of a happy springtime.
The Fool can also be enterprising and adventurous. The Fool reminds us that we can take risks, and try new things. The Fool trusts in the universe. Because the Fool is a beginner, she has no worries.
Speaking of beginnings--Zen masters have a little something they like to call "Beginner's Mind." This mind is pure. This concept is extremely comforting to me because I am a perfectionist. When I started taking ballet again a few years ago, it was very difficult for me. I felt clumsy, which is natural when you're stumbling around like a drunken donkey. It took practice to let myself be a beginner. I think there's some shame in it, especially in a perfectionist world, which doesn't acknowledge the obvious fact that people generally are not experts at something the first time they do it. However, in Zen, as well as yoga, the Beginner's Mind is sacred, because it is not clouded with preconceptions. Preconceptions limit possibilities, which the Fool is full of! The Fool is always willing to learn and experience!
The Fool can also mean coming of age--coming into independence and a personal philosophy. It can represent a new, idealistic way of looking at things, and of optimism.
The Shadow side of the Fool is recklessness and willful ignorance, and unwillingness to learn and grow. It may also mean limited thinking, and being blind to possibilities. The Shadow can also be manifested as youthful narcissism.
Archetypes and people I associate with The Fool: A young person going on a quest, like Sir Gawain. New babies. Mulan, with her creativity and willingness to start at the bottom, also, because she was motivated by love, and not pride. Pip, from Great Expectations. Miaka, from Fushigi Yugi, and Kagome from Inuyasha. Young Simba. Spongebob and Chowder (yeah, I said it. They do things out of love, not pride).
Shadow: Holden Caulfeld. People who shoot down every idea for "being impractical." People who have such strong attachment to their ideals, they think anyone who doesn't share them is evil. People who may be a tad over-impulsive.
And now for the questions. Please feel free to comment with your answers to the questions, or with insights you may have had looking at the cards. In fact, I would greatly love it if people would!
1) Which version of the three pictures of the Fool really speaks to you?
2) What detail stands out to you in the card you picked? For example, is it the little dog, or the brightness of the clothes? Is there more than one detail? How do they relate?
3) What does the detail mean to you? For example, the little dog may symbolize loyalty, or playfulness, or a dog you love. The red and white of Barbara G. Walker's fool may seem interesting to you because red, which you associate with fire, is in such harmony with white, which you associate with snow. Going further, what do snow and fire mean to you?
4) Think about beginnings in your life. Do they frighten or excite you? How do you react to them? Is there a better way?
5) How do you feel about having a Beginner's Mind? Have you been willing to sacrifice being perfect at something to do it for the love of it?
6) How do you solve problems? What is your strategy for generating possibilities, both creative and practical?
7) Who and/or what are your archetypes for The Fool?
8) What past mistakes or pain can you turn into mulch for something positive? Can you turn it into creative expression, or a way to help people? What can you do to cleanse yourself of shame and regret? Meditate on the Fool's energy to help you with this.