Numerical Value : 0
Esoteric Title : Spirit of Aether
Path 11 : Aleph (Ox)
Kether – Chokmah
Element : Air (Maternal)
Sepher Yetzirah : Scintillating Intelligence
The Fool is the first and last card of the Major Arcana tying the journey together in a loop represented by zero. The circular nature of existence defies the limitations of linear time, revealing it to be an illusion. A holy wanderer in a sun decorated coat with a warm and child like spirit of play, the Fool is utterly free from inhibitions and limitations and welcomes all experience joyfully. Being a guilelessly honest and harmless soul expressing unconditional love for all other beings gives an appearance of stupidity, but also the charisma of an idiot savant. The innocence of the Idiot is a state of divine grace and holiness.
The Hebrew letter Aleph is the first letter of the alphabet, meaning Ox, suggesting an honest, earthy lack of pretension. The Ox pulls a plough, digging up impacted earth to allow new life to grow. The shape of the letter resembles a plough, and also a whirling swastika, the glyph of the birth of chaos. The path of Aleph travels between Kether (Spirit) and Chokmah (Wisdom), in one direction the ultimate union with spirit and in the other a manifestation into being, both a beginning and an ending. The Fool is also associated with the hidden sephirah Daath representing Gnosis, the intuitive spiritual knowledge which we osmose from the ineffable.
The Spirit of Aether is the quintessence, the mysterious fifth element which unites the four elements of manifestation and gives them life. The Maternal element of Air suggests emptiness, a vacuum into which the life breath of all creation flows. It is the state of no-mind valued so highly by Zen wisdom. An open mind is ready to receive inspiration and divine guidance. The Greek word Pneuma means breath and also spirit or soul. Breathing is the instigator of life and life is defined by its presence. Breathing techniques are the foundation of all esoteric spiritual disciplines. Air is the element that lifts us into higher consciousness, the elusive medium of freedom, independent thought and enlightenment. Scintillating Intelligence, the title given to the letter Aleph in the Sepher Yetzirah, suggests a sparkling, bright, dazzling and stimulating energy, a manifestation of pure light and joy. Merriment and loving laughter disarms all opposition, innocence and joy overcomes oppression effortlessly, bringing healing and creative inspiration into the world.
The Fool is sexually naive, balanced on the cliff edge of puberty, an androgynous entity on the brink of becoming in every respect. The act of dancing with a huge crocodile demonstrates a complete lack of fear. Interaction with dangerous animals is a metaphor for Initiation and the Fool is the card of the Initiate. To trust the beast is to make it your playmate. The crocodile is an animal of two realms (land and water) and so represents the transmission of the divine will. Crocodiles make a purring vibration which sends drops of water into the air dancing on their backs.
Initiation into the mysteries is an experience of death in life leading to a descent into the underworld. We are always acting out this initiation, descending into the pit of our own misery and sickness and finding healing and inspiration and rebirth. The descent into the Abyss is metaphorically associated with the dormancy of nature in winter and its inevitable resurrection in spring. The Fool is the Green Man, the vital energy of renewal, representing the moment when nature bursts into life again, vibrant and lush, after the death of Winter. Dostoevsky’s holy Idiot has been condemned to death and reprieved at the last minute. Faced with certain death he realises separation is an illusion and that we are all one. When his life is unexpectedly saved he resolves to act with loving kindness to all, and in doing so makes himself a laughing stock.
We have to be prepared to lose the respect and approval of society and family or we will never find our own authority. The ultimate goal is to truly think, feel, sense and desire for ourselves at all times, even if that means standing alone. As the captain of our own ship consciously charting our individual course we are no longer vulnerable to outside influence and manipulation. When we find our strength within, and generate our own ideas and opinions we can gain true confidence in our own path and become impossible to dominate or intimidate. Succumbing to the social pressure to conform and accumulate possessions and status results in clinging desperately to a false security. It’s a tragedy to discover too late that we have wasted our lives fulfilling the expectations of others. Permanence and certainty are a delusion and death and decay and loss are inescapable.
A fearful or cynical state of mind impedes the unconditional giving and risk taking that is necessary to achieve great things or even to enjoy life. Counting the costs of every venture virtually guarantees inertia. Our fundamental acceptance of the natural ebb and flow of life gives us strength and freedom to enjoy its abundance and endure its privations.
Manifesting a healthy Fool archetype is extremely liberating and empowering. Openness and kindness to others and to the Universe gifts us with an intuitive sense of direction and the assistance of all those we encounter. The Fool is like Hexagram 25 of the I Ching, Wu Wang or Innocence, which counsels that our egos must be disengaged before we can awaken our divine guidance. Innocence is the absence of the selfish ulterior motives which stain our actions with unworthiness. The Fool ignores all of the expectations and conventions of society and embraces freedom, liberation and individuality. Taking the first step of a great journey, an adventure into the unknown, it is essential to let go of everything. If we love our own fate, and to accept that it is all exactly as it is meant to be, we can live fully in the moment and enjoy good humoured serenity. To those who value social hierarchies, conformity and wealth a person like this seems like a Fool. Enlightenment and inspiration often do seem like madness and idiocy. If we love and honour our inner holy idiot we can be liberated from our shackles to truly enjoy life, love and creativity.
From The Asherah Tarot
by Sarah Wheatley
One thought on “The Fool”
Absolutely beautiful words. “We have to be prepared to lose the respect and approval of society and family or we will never find our own authority. The ultimate goal is to truly think, feel, sense, and desire for ourselves at all times, even if that means standing alone.” ~ I love these words. There is so much truth in them. 🙂