Adventures in Tarot cards: The Fool

People said it couldn’t be done; but the fool didn’t know it, so he went ahead and did it. —Anonymous

I like to see the Major Arcana as a journey. The Fool dances on the edge of a cliff, rejoicing in what he has learned to do. Or more likely, what he has just discovered that he will learn in the future. Socrates says that the beginning of all wisdom is knowing how little we know. The Fool sees that the journey before him is going to be fun. The Fool is not stupid, he is mostly like a child, full of potential but not knowledge—yet.

When I lay out the cards for people, they think the Fool is saying they are stupid, but there is a big difference between ignorance and being unlearned. Both indicate lack of knowledge; the difference is in assuming you already know things that you really do not know and being willing to learn what you do not know. The Fool is a complete beginner: he sets aside what he thinks he knows and waits with an open mind to learn what he must to succeed.

To get better at something, you must start by acknowledging that you will make mistakes. Doing so allows you to recognize the mistakes you make and make less of them. Like a child learning to walk. They get up, they fall down, they keep getting up. If someone is afraid to make a mistake they end up doing very little.

The Fool is also very creative. He does not know what will work so he tries out different things until he figures out what does work. The Fool is not held back by rules that say things are only done a certain way. He may create a new technique that no one has tried before, but now people find it beautiful. Geniuses are Fools.

The Fool is not reckless. He is child-like. He is in love with the idea of learning something new. He will not do things perfectly at first, but over time he will get better and better. As I have talked about before, he will practice and improve. And if he creates new ways of doing things, new ideas no one has thought of before, this is the miracle of beginning something new.

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