Wisdom of the Fool

The tarot Fool has seen many faces and forms; from the airy and a-bit-noble-kind-of RWS Fool to the bare-ass vagabond of the Marseilles type. From all the Fool’s that I’ve seen I think the Visconti-Sforza deck gives him the most human and ‘genuine’ depiction. The image also has a strong resemblance to the “Il Misero” card of the Mantegna series. Completely stripped off from any social status or significance, this Fool is the ultimate outsider. His crown is made out of white feathers, which I take firstly to be a mockery towards those finer counterparts found from the heads of the state, and secondly to be an indicator revealing the true nature of his being. Feathers come from birds, and birds could be said (in tarot) to be partly terrestrial, partly celestial beings. Many readers struggle with those ‘darker Trump cards’; Death, the Devil and the Tower. I think the real challenge lies within the Fool. He can so easily be oversimplified. 

“…it is your voice which resounded more loudly than the beating of drums around the guillotine, one day in the month of Thermidor or Fructidor in the year II or III (of the French Republican calendar), with a cry from the top of the scaffolding, “Long live the King!” – before your chopped-off head rolled to the ground. It is you also who, in the presence of the jubilant revolutionary populace, tore down from the wall and ripped up a red placard announcing to the people of St. Petersburg the dawn of a New Era in Russia… and who was promptly run through by the bayonets of the red guards present. It is you again who declared openly to the German military authorities of the invaded and occupied Netherlands in 1941 that Germany, by occupying the land, was infringing the Hague Conventions that Germany herself had signed thirty years previously…” (Anonymous / Tomberg, Valentin: Meditations on the Tarot, p.592)

“The Fool’s trickster aspect is indeed a tricky one. As Joseph Henderson observes, the Trickster is thoroughly amoral. He submits to no discipline and is guided wholly by his experimental attitude toward life; yet it is out of the Trickster figure that the Hero-Saviour ultimately evolves… the Trickster impulse provides the strongest resistance to initiation and is one of the hardest problems education has to solve because it seems a kind of divinely sanctioned lawlessness that promises to become heroic.” (Nichols, Sallie: Jung and Tarot, p.32)
It is my belief – and feel free to disagree – that most of the psychological problems of today’s western world stem from misunderstanding (be it then by misinterpretation, neglect or ignorance) of the concepts relating to the significance of the Fool.                    

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