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The Fool's Journey

Revised -- 6 August 2003

The journey begins with the Fool, the zero card of the Tarot deck, representing innocence and inexperience.  It is the inexperienced child, fearless, filled with curiosity, and ready for most anything.  It is also Forest Gump, as depicted in the movie of the same name starring Tom Hanks.  The Fool is seemingly oblivious to much of life, is often naive, invariably wide eyed and innocent at much of life’s travails, and is someone clearly in dire need of divine protection.  And in this respect, the Fool receives it... on a continual basis!

For Updates, see also the Halexandria Forum
(And for some special insights, see the DoK!)

For example, if Forest Gump is our model, then the Fool is the archetype of an individual honored by several U. S. Presidents, spectacularly successful in both war and in business enterprises, recipient of the benefits of both a loving mother and true, lasting friendships, and overall someone who really does quite well for himself.  

Other representations of the Fool include: 1) Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn ambling along the Mississippi River, carrying their belongings in makeshift satchels -- both out to find high adventure and learn life’s lesson first hand, 2) the prodigal son in pursuit of the phenomenon of living, 3) an innocent Parsifal seeking redemption in the Quest for the Holy Grail, while experiencing all the positives and negatives the world has to offer, and/or 4) the wandering prince and minstrel, experiencing the slings and arrows of those who don’t respect or even trust any wandering individual, prince or not.  The Fool is the quality in each of us that stirs at the thought of adventure and responds eagerly even to the hint of a new challenge.  The Fool wanders in where others fear to go.  

In the Tarot, the Fool card symbolizes the Creative Force or Power that initiates and guides the Universe.  “The Fool card is actually the God card in the Tarot.” [1]  It is Spirit seeking to know itself by choosing to manifest on the earthly plane -- experience yet another reincarnation [as in Reincarnation Is Making a Comeback] -- in order to seek (and reach) perfection.  With the powers of creation, it is no wonder that the Fool’s potential is so vast!  

In the Tarot, the Fool is typically shown without a care in the world, carrying a knapsack of his worldly belongings, in the process of stepping off a cliff (unaware of the divine protection prepped to save him), and accompanied by a small, white dog (representing the Fool’s Higher Self).  This is strictly speaking, the Fool at the beginning of his journey.

The journey is one’s path, one’s destiny, one’s... life.  It is represented in the Tarot and The Fool’s Journey by the twenty one additional cards of the Major Arcana, the so-called “triumphs” [i.e. “trumps”] of the journey.  Because of the importance of these cards, it’s worth encapsulating briefly what each of the trumps are all about.  For example:                 

                      0        The Fool

prodigal son, Parsifal, minstrel, Tom Sawyer
                      1        Magician selected destiny, transformation, Alchemy
                      2        High Priestess hidden meanings, inner awareness, intuition
                      3        Empress openness, concern for others, generosity
                      4        Emperor purpose, passion, keeping own counsel
                      5        Hierophant knowledge transmission, tradition, culture
                      6        Lovers wholeness, union, harmonious interaction
                      7        Chariot conflicts, crosscurrents, control, discipline
                      8        Strength   wisdom, self control over animal instincts
                      9        Hermit  spiritual values, guidance, mystery quest
                    10        Wheel of Fortune cycles, perpetual, fortune, cornucopia
                    11        Justice values, peace, harmony, balance, diversity
                    12        Hanged Man acceptance, initiation, transition, meditation
                    13        Death character/consciousness transformation
                    14        Temperance moderation, tempering, blending opposites
                    15        Devil  liberation, self-imposed suffering, defeat
                    16        Tower disruption, rigidity, sudden challenges
                    17        Star inspiration, renewal, nurturance, optimism
                    18        Moon instincts, cycles, subconscious, emotions
                    19        Sun good news, health, happiness, success
                    20        Judgment rejuvenation, realization, rebirth, phoenix
                    21        World  culmination, enlightenment, completion, connection
                    22        The Fool

Lao Tzu, Parsifal at end of Holy Grail quest

One might note an underlying, cyclical nature of the three sets of seven cards -- from the emphasis on the individual in card one to the cultural/tradition nature of the fifth to the return to the individual (but now on a higher level) of the ninth card in each of the Cycles.  This cyclical nature is repeated in Astrology and Numerology, in the Tao de Ching, and ultimately, in the hierarchical aspects of the  Tree of Life.  It is cycles within cycles within cycles -- much in the same pattern of fractals in Chaos Theory.  

It should be noted, however, that the Tarot’s numbering of the Major Arcana is not cast in concrete, and the above, widely accepted version, should not be taken for gospel.  The Magician might be toward the end, while Death may be the initiator.  The Emperor and Empress (with or without their clothes) might be earlier than the High Priestess.  Even the Sun (children) might be much earlier -- or a return to the enjoyment of life after a Tower episode, or a Lunar moment.  In terms of their relationship to the Tree of Life and the Variations on a Theme (other versions of the Tree), a very singularly different version might be more instructive.  [All of which is left to the student.  Due next Tuesday.]

When the Fool begins his or her Journey, it is the encounters of experiences represented by the Major Arcana trumps, the cards of the Tarot that matter.  The Magician might, for example, emphasize one’s need to transform his or her personal gifts into something far greater than suggested by face value.  Similarly, the High Priestess might involve learning about opening to intuition, the Devil about loosening the chains of guilt that can bind us, the Death card representing positive change and transformation, the Tower about sudden and radical changes, and eventually, the World card signifying completion. The 22 trumps of the Tarot also represent the 22 paths between the Sephiroth of the Tree of Life.  With each Sephiroth being an experience or path in itself, the total number of paths becomes 32, the same number for the degree or level in Freemasonry.

In pursing an esoteric study of the Tree of Life, individuals meditate upon the meanings and experiences of each of the 22 paths, plus each Sephiroth -- the latter often directed toward the characteristics of each as represented by the astrological planets.  In this regard it is well to consider the correct placement of planets, and to include Daath as worthy of study. 

A curious factor in the study of Freemasonry is that many people, upon reaching the 32nd degree -- in essence having made the rounds of all paths and Sephiroth -- are often disappointed to find little of truly great profundity with their new, exalted position.  Of course, Jesus Christ is often described as being at the 33rd degree -- but seemingly the void, veil, or abyss between the two degrees is apparently enormous.

Incidentally, 22 is also the number of letters in the Hebrew Alphabet, which due to the Geometry of Alphabets is a highly profound grouping of language symbols.  But the Hebrews have added another five letters -- see, e.g. Stan Tenan’s website <http://www.meru.org>.  This may lead to 5 more paths!

A critically important aspect is that when the Fool has progressed through all of the individuation and experiences of life, the Fool once again becomes... The Fool.  This latter Fool -- the one represented by the “22” -- is indicative of having all of the attributes of the Fool as before (oblivious to life’s travails, without a care in the world, and under divine protection).  But in this case, the Fool knows and understands from whence his calm and protected existence derive.  In effect, Forest Gump has become Lao Tzu.  

We may intuit, sense, or unwittingly assume the attributes of the Fool and wander through life pretty much unaware of the greater scope of things.  And in fact, may not even need additional enlightenment.  But if life manages to distract us from a state of being wherein we are properly receptive to the delights of life (i.e., we’re crashing and burning), then it is entirely possible that we would do well to take The Fool’s Journey, meander through the underlying realities of which the world is apparently constituted, and then in the end, realize that our initial intuition or unwitting Assumptions when we were twelve were in fact fundamentally accurate and true.  Only, this time, we have a much better appreciation and more complete knowledge of the why and wherefore of our journey though life.  

The trek through Library of Halexandria is some respects The Fool’s Journey, or is intended as such.  [Not to suggest that you’re a fool for being here, but...]  This trek assumes the universe is perfect, that there is a lack of true duality, Creating Reality is always within the individual’s power, and all of the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, the trials, travails and tribulations of the world are but mere shadows of things imperfectly (and temporarily) misunderstood.  The excitement of the world is no more than diversion, just part of all the Illusions we choose to experience and then move on.

Dramas, traumas, and dharmas of all manner are indeed enticing.  They certainly keep the blood flowing.  But they still have no more reality than a good movie.  The Fool assumes this without proof when he or she begins.  Then after much study and in-depth searching, the Fool knows the unreality of reality.  He or she knows of what he or she is -- knows in the spirit of Quantum Knowing that it’s very peaceful at both ends of the Journey, and everything in between is nothing more than an interval “full of sound and fury and signifying nothing.”  

But there is still an enormous appeal to all the “sound and fury”, is there not?  So why not strike on the path, quest, journey, trek, or whatever you want to call it?  It’s a trip!  Perhaps join the other or so individuals who may now be on this particular quest.

Of course, if being thought a “fool” does not appeal to you, consider the fact that as long as you’re not attached or associated with any royal court, you can at least say that you’re “nobody’s fool”.  Alternatively, if you’re still ill at ease with the moniker, you can always try a subset of The Fool’s Journey, i.e. The Hero’s Journey.  [That way you get to be a “hero”, “heroine” or Falstaff.]  In the latter journey, you get to be in the starring role -- even when the “stuff” that goes with such a position has its own drawbacks.  Like pain, suffering, blood all over the place (including yours!), and .... Well, you get the idea.

In any case, be sure to take Desiderata along -- i.e. don’t leave home without it.

For Updates, see also the Halexandria Forum
(And for some special insights, see the DoK!)


Gnostics         Wisdom

Synthesis         Tarot          Death and Rebirth


The Pursuit of Happiness

 Forward to:

 The Hero’s Journey         Bozo-Sattva         Five Paths

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Babylon 5

Love N’ Death         Douglas Adams         They Went Thataway      



[1]  Janina Renee, Tarot for a New Generation, Llewellyn Publications, St. Paul, 2001.  


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