The Fool says: Why so serious?

Hey ho, let's go!
Hey ho, let’s go! Balbi, Gran Tarot Esotérico, Marseille by Camoin, Barbara Walker, Crowley

Goodbye to the Life I used to live –
And the World I used to know –
And kiss the Hills, for me, just once –
Then – I am ready to go!

Emily Dickinson, poem 279

I wish the Fool had been playing up tricks in my mind lately, he always brings a sense of cheerfulness that I was sadly lacking. As the winter seemed to stretch forever, I was feeling sluggish and withdrawn, nothing to do with the spring in the step that our friend The Fool has.

What a jolly bunch of fellows we’ve got today, all going resolutely towards the East (except the one from Crowley, who bizarrely looks at the spectator in a static position, but Mr Crowley always liked to do things his own way, didn’t he?) I seem to remember that the one in Rider Waite looks to the left, I suppose that it’s up to the artist to depict the symbolism of this card but I personally prefer it going to the right.

The innocence and wonder that fills our hearts when we start a journey! The Fool is our soul before the Fall, when everything is new and good and bright and we still don’t know the many lessons that lay further ahead in the way. His fair hair is yellow, the colour of spring and new beginnings. He still carries the baggage of his previous life in a bundle and the dog is trying to stop him in his journey. That’s my favourite part of the card, as that’s no longer a symbol of bigger-than-life things but a small sample of everyday life.

It’s remarkable how he is the only one of the Major Arcana that has survived in common playing decks, as a Joker. Barbara Walker in The Secrets of the Tarot says:

“So the Fool was permitted to stay with, if not exactly in, the deck of cards, because he had no heresies to teach.”

Didn’t he fooled them? He wasn’t so innocent after all 😀

When I started reading the Tarot, I really didn’t like the Fool; his nimbleness and innocence made me suspicious and I thought that behaving that way was wrong. Ah, that stubborn teenage belief in all things black and white!

It can be used as a charm, although not on its own as it needs some counterweight to secure us to the ground, for the following situations:

For artists or just anyone who is about to embark in a creative pursuit: it will act as an antenna to open up our senses to new ideas and be non judgmental of our efforts. Combine it with the Ace more suitable to your purpose.

– With the 9 of Pentacles and the 2 of Swords: Very favourable for online-based businesses. Maybe because of its connection to Uranus, I think the Fool is very technology oriented. The 2 of Swords represents communication and the 9 of Pentacles gives fruition to our endeavours.

Many faces.
Many faces.

In the Secret Dakini Oracle, there is a card related to the Fool, but with an interesting twist: it’s the Fool but after he’s finished his journey through the 21 Major Arcana; he has attained enlightenment and knows that everything, the good and the bad, are parts of the journey, are just jokes of Brahma. He is many things, as shown by his numerous faces, but he doesn’t get caught up in self-definitions. I like that, as sometimes we focus in just one part of us, in sorrow, in anger, in self-pity… and forget that we may as well choose lightness and humour as our persona.

So that’s my intention for today: be merry and forget about inevitability, things don’t have to be just because, we are free to choose. I’ll go watch something amusing 😀 Suggestions welcome!!

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The Hanged Man and the miracle of spring

Nine nights I hung in the windy tree, wounded with the spear, sacrificed to Odin,

I myself to myself.

Major Oak, whose branches are as big as trees.
Major Oak, whose branches are as big as trees.

This weekend I went for a walk to Sherwood Forest, to decompress from a very long and tiring week. To fill my soul with the wonder of nature, by watching  the wild life and the ancient oak trees, still sprouting acorns after those many centuries in their belts. We were blessed with the delightful sight of many great tits, blue tits, blackbirds, squirrels, wrens and robins, whose fun-spirited demeanour filled my heart with a joy that it’s difficult to translate into words. Even though we’ve changed seasons, at least by name (the spring equinox is old news already), it felt like the winter was still among us. There was quite a bit of snow on the ground and the wind was still bitterly cold, leaving the noses red and dripping with silent tears.

Barbara Walker, Gran Tarot Esotérico
Barbara Walker, Gran Tarot Esotérico

When I saw those magnificent oak trees with their branches still bare, oblivious to the arrival of spring, I couldn’t help but think of the Hanged Man, one of the cards of the Tarot that cannot conceal its pagan origin. For example, the Great Priestess is related to Hathor and Isis, but as their cult was disguised as Virgin Mary’s, they could get away with it. Unlike the Hanged Man, that shows a man hung upside down, with an unusual expression of bliss or contentment for someone in such predicament, this kind of worship (men hanging themselves as a sacrifice to Odin) wasn’t considered appropriate to keep when Christianity took over.

Odin’s is a male-centric myth, as he had to hung himself in the Yggdrassil for 9 nights in order to gain the knowledge of the runes, magic, the secrets of Fate and poetry. All these lores had traditionally been preserved and taught by women, hence his choice of staying 9 nights, as a symbol of the 9 months of gestation. According to some versions of the legend, he had to endure all this ordeal to earn all this knowledge by drinking from the sacred blood of the womb of the Goddess. However, as it can be seen in Barbara Walker’s 5 of swords, despite having become a wise man thanks to all this knowledge, he wasn’t above the control of the Fates, who still remained the ones who called the shots 😀

The other card shown is from the Gran Tarot Esotérico, a deck designed by a Basque witch, with many references to Basque mythology  that has omitted the hanged man but kept the bare trees. The name of the card La Picota means “The Gallows” which I think that keeps the theme of the card in a simple but effective way. We may not see the hanged man as the trees have become the focal point of the card.

The main theme of this card is sacrifice, we have to sacrifice something precious to us (the ego, our time, our friends…) in order to gain something better in the future.

Today this card resonates deeply within me because it’s my birthday and I’m away from my family. I wasn’t born in this island of Faery, she’s treated me well and given me many things, I grew up as a woman here, I found my voice, but I had to leave many things behind. I don’t regret that decision  but a price had to be paid; I wasn’t there when my dad died, I was even late for his funeral; now, I’m missing watching my sister’s belly grow with my nephew and I grieve for my native language that I seldom get to speak anymore.

To end with a more positive note, this card is really good to use as an amulet, combined with the World as they are mirror images of each other, as their legs point one to the sky and the other to the ground, for the following situations:

  • For students revising for exams: all that work may seem overwhelming at times, but this period of intense concentration will pay off when the results come up. Make a colour photocopy of the cards and keep it in your wallet, o somewhere in your desk.
  • When trying to beat an addiction: meditate on these cards when you are fighting the cravings, as they will help you remember why you are quitting.

And remember that spring is coming, whether we like it or not. I want to be like the daffodils that are blooming and filling the roads with the happiness of yellow just because they must.

daffodils