Today we’ll cover the meaning of The Fool tarot card. This is a part of a deep dive series on the tarot.
Ah, The Fool: Card 0 of the Major Arcana. One traditional use of the tarot was to tell a story. The order of the Major Arcana follows that story, and it’s sometimes known as the fool’s journey.
The story is a journey from ignorance to enlightenment (The World). He learns all the mysteries of the universe. But it’s also cycle, and we return just as we started, as a fool.
That’s why the fool card usually has a bindle or knapsack to indicate the coming travels.
Let’s explore the various meanings and interpretations of The Fool.
The classical meaning of The Fool can be seen in the Rider-Waite deck.
Let’s just list some of the many elements: a bindle, a dog, a cliff, a flower in hand, the sun, mountains in the distance.
There is far more on this card than initially meets the eye. Above we talked about the symbols that represent a journey or new beginning.
He’s about to step off a cliff. This shows ignorance and a carefree attitude toward what’s right in front of him. The flower is white and a clear symbol of his innocence.
The sun gives hope for what is to come, but the jagged mountains show that there will be danger along the way. That is all for the future, though.
Upright The Fool Meaning
The Fool meaning is easy to remember by just reading some of the upright card keywords off of the symbols:
- New Beginning
- A Journey
These words encompass a wide range of possibilities, so you’ll need to make a judgment call based on position in the spread, surrounding cards, and the question asked.
We’ll get to that below.
If you get in the habit of telling yourself this story, the classical meaning of the card should be easy to remember.
Reversed The Fool Meaning
The most common reversed Fool meaning is that you are cautious and reserved. Instead of plunging ahead into new territory, you’re calculating the risks.
The Fool may be about to walk off the cliff, but at least he has a clear direction. When The Fool is reversed, it means you are lacking in this direction. Maybe you intentionally turn away from the cliff because you fear those mountains in the background.
The dog is a loyal companion on the card. When the Fool is reversed, maybe you need to find such a companion to help you start this new beginning.
I always like to examine other, modern decks to see what can be read into their symbolism.
The reason for this is that every person will have different decks, and so it’s good to learn how to go with your gut on what you see. This is the best way to have a good interpretation for the moment.
Too many people stick to a learned reading instead of going with the flow. Remember, each reading, deck, person, position, and question is different. Reading the cards is an art, not a science.
We’ll use a different deck for every one of these. Today’s is the Neon Moon Tarot. I just love how cool this new deck is. It nails a consistent cyberpunk aesthetic and sticks to all the classic symbols.
Let’s start by noticing some differences. The symbols above are all there, but instead of meandering near a cliff, she is about to step out of a tall building.
I love how this draws our attention to another interpretation. The Fool might need to take an intentional leap of faith to start the journey. The next part of your life might have a bit of a fall, but you must trust that something will catch you.
Another difference is that the dog isn’t physically here. He’s on a sign watching it all happen.
It’s a reminder that your support and companion on this new beginning don’t have to be present for the journey.
Keep some sort of reminder that you have this support system around in case you need it, but don’t require the person to be present the whole time.
The Fool in Context
Context matters a lot when reading the cards. Here are some particularly strong things to look out for.
I think the meaning should be clear in the past/present/future positions. It will indicate starting new or beginning a journey during those times.
It should also make sense for given questions. Just remember that it can mean many things, and the art of tarot requires you to intuit which one from context.
For example, position 1 of the Celtic Cross spread indicates the topic. The Fool means the topic is the new beginning you’ve embarked on.
Whereas position 2 indicates the problem. The Fool here would suggest an emotional meaning. The problem is your naivete or innocence or ignorance. It will lead to danger.
Position 9 is your hopes and fears. The Fool would indicate that you fear the coming journey or that you hope for a new beginning.
See how the position can dictate the reading? This will become even more important when you take into account what the rest of the cards have indicated to that point.
Back to the Major Arcana list.