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The Fool in Spring: Le Fou of the Tarot

The Fool

From the Rider-Waite tarot deck

In honor of tomorrow being April Fool’s Day, I decided it would be fun to take a look at “The Fool” of the tarot deck. You might think it would be a bad card to receive in a divinatory reading, but it represents opportunity, new beginnings, spontaneity, risk-taking, and innocence. The Fool’s Journey is a metaphor for the journey through life. This specific card represents the start of that journey. As such, it has the potential to be good or bad.

The Oswald Wirth tarot deck

The Fool is one of the tarot’s 22 Major Arcana cards and is the most contradictory card in the deck. Some people claim it is an inherently negative card, while others say not. The Major Arcana are numbered, but depending on the deck, The Fool may be unnumbered, or it may be numbered 0, 21, or 22. It can be the lowest trump or the highest trump. When it is numbered zero (which is most often), it is the only card in the deck that uses an Arabic numeral instead of a Roman one.

According to Wikipedia “The Fool is titled Le Mat in the Tarot of Marseilles, and Il Matto in most Italian language tarot decks. These archaic words mean ‘the madman’ or ‘the beggar’, and may be related to the word for ‘checkmate’ in relation to the original use of tarot cards for gaming purposes.”

The Fool 1

Charles VI tarot deck

The fool does not always represent the person whose fortune is being read. It can also be a person who is prominent in the subject’s life. And like all tarot cards, it’s meaning is altered enormously depending on the position in which it comes up in the spread, as well as on the cards that appear around it.

For instance, The Fool in the past position may mean time previously wasted on distractions. In the present position it may reveal an enormous potential if commitments are thrown aside in order to seize an immediate opportunity.

If The Devil appears near The Fool in a reading it may mean that the subject’s careless ways will soon lead to disaster. When paired with The Sun, The Star, or the Moon, it can signify the approach of a time of deep personal insights. It is The Fool reversed (upside down) that is considered the true warning of bad things to come.

Tamsin Blight and the Cornish Witches

The first time I saw the name Tamsin Blight, I was fascinated with it. Generally speaking, one doesn’t want to have a last name that Merriam-Webster defines as “a disease that makes plants dry up and die,” but it seems perfect for a witch. Which is what she was. Born Thomasine Blight in Cornwall, England, […]

Unusual Names from the Heartland

According to one of his friends, J.R.R. Tolkien drew many of the names for his hobbits from the pages of a Lexington, Kentucky, phone book. Why not? American names can be strange. Wonderfully strange, mind you, but strange. For instance, during some research on Cotton Mather, I was reminded that his father was named Increase […]

Fairy Tale Plots and Fractured Folktales

“The Three Heads in the Well” is a fairy tale in which a girl and her stepsister each set out in succession to seek their fortune. Both end up by the same well in the middle of a forest where three heads bob to the surface like apples and ask to be washed and combed. Naturally, the stepsister is […]

What Old English, etc. Really Sounded Like

I loved this post from The Week, written by “sentence sommelier” James Harbeck about the the roots and sounds of the English language. Aside from his commentary, he assembles experts speaking the antecedents of English as they were heard in Shakespearean England and in the Medieval England of Chaucer and Beowulf. He also includes a song in the […]

Lady Midday: the Noon-Demon

I found bits and pieces about Lady Midday online and was instantly smitten. From that first encounter and the research that followed came the beginnings of a short story. The Lady of the Rye Lady Midday, not to be confused with Billie Holliday (a.k.a. Lady Day) is a Slavic noon-demon who delights in causing sunstroke and […]

9 Things I Found Googling “Taxidermy”

I was at the Tucson Festival of Books, listening to a panel of authors discuss “Deep Secrets, Dark Places,” when one of them, T. Greenwood, tells the story of how she entered a house in Vermont that was the inspiration for one of her novels. Inside, she encountered a menagerie of stuffed and mounted birds. In order […]

Tucson Festival of Books

Yesterday was the first day of the Tucson Festival of Books and yours truly was in attendance along with my wife. I am out and about at the festival today, as well. Every year more than 100,000 people come to the University of Arizona campus to meet and listen to hundreds of authors from every […]

Plague Doctor: Maestro Lodovicetti

Because the story took a different direction, the following is a piece that didn’t make the final cut for Conjurers, an epic historical fantasy set in 14th century Europe. This snippet ultimately transformed into a kind of exercise or character sketch for my primary antagonist, the alchemist-cum-vivisectionist, Maestro Lodivicetti. # The journey had been easier than the Maestro […]

The Feast of Mad People

The very first post on this blog (2/5/15) was about a book I read in the 1990’s, titled Vampires, Werewolves & Demons: Twentieth Century Reports in the Psychiatric Literature. It is a collection of case studies from the vaults of the “monstrously” insane, going back almost 200 years. The book contains an excerpt written by […]