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The Fool According to A. E. Waite

The Fool

The Meaning of the Fool Tarot Card in Divination


Here is what the occultist Arthur Edward Waite, co-creator of the Rider-Waite Tarot deck, had to say about the Fool Major Arcana card in divination.





The Fool Tarot Card

00. The Fool, Mate, or Unwise Man. Court de Gebelin places it at the head of the whole series as the zero or negative which is presupposed by numeration, and as this is a simpler so also it is a better arrangement.

       It has been abandoned because in later times the cards have been attributed to the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, and there has been apparently some difficulty about allocating the zero symbol satisfactorily in a sequence of letters all of which signify numbers.

       In the present reference of the card to the letter Shin, which corresponds to 200, the difficulty or the unreason remains.

       The truth is that the real arrangement of the cards has never transpired. The Fool carries a wallet; he is looking over his shoulder and does not know that he is on the brink of a precipice; but a dog or other animal - some call it a tiger - is attacking him from behind, and he is hurried to his destruction unawares.

       Etteilla has given a justifiable variation of this card - as generally understood - in the form of a court jester, with cap, bells and motley garb. The other descriptions say that the wallet contains the bearer's follies and vices, which seems bourgeois and arbitrary.


Inner Symbolism of the Tarot Fool Card

With light step, as if earth and its trammels had little power to restrain him, a young man in gorgeous vestments pauses at the brink of a precipice among the great heights of the world; he surveys the blue distance before him-its expanse of sky rather than the prospect below.

       His act of eager walking is still indicated, though he is stationary at the given moment; his dog is still bounding. The edge which opens on the depth has no terror; it is as if angels were waiting to uphold him, if it came about that he leaped from the height. His countenance is full of intelligence and expectant dream.

       He has a rose in one hand and in the other a costly wand, from which depends over his right shoulder a wallet curiously embroidered. He is a prince of the other world on his travels through this one-all amidst the morning glory, in the keen air. The sun, which shines behind him, knows whence he came, whither he is going, and how he will return by another path after many days.

       He is the spirit in search of experience. Many symbols of the Instituted Mysteries are summarized in this card, which reverses, under high warrants, all the confusions that have preceded it.

       In his Manual of Cartomancy, Grand Orient has a curious suggestion of the office of Mystic Fool, as apart of his process in higher divination; but it might call for more than ordinary gifts to put it into operation.

       We shall see how the card fares according to the common arts of fortune-telling, and it will be an example, to those who can discern, of the fact, otherwise so evident, that the Trumps Major had no place originally in the arts of psychic gambling, when cards are used as the counters and pretexts. Of the circumstances under which this art arose we know, however, very little.

       The conventional explanations say that the Fool signifies the flesh, the sensitive life, and by a peculiar satire its subsidiary name was at one time the alchemist, as depicting folly at the most insensate stage.


Divinatory Meaning of the Tarot Fool Card

Folly, mania, extravagance, intoxication, delirium, frenzy, bewrayment.


Reversed: Negligence, absence, distribution, carelessness, apathy, nullity, vanity.


More about the Fool Tarot card



The Major Arcana Tarot Cards According to A. E. Waite

  1. The Magician

  2. The High Priestess

  3. The Empress

  4. The Emperor

  5. The Hierophant

  6. The Lovers

  7. The Chariot

  8. Strength

  9. The Hermit

  10. Wheel of Fortune

  11. Justice

  12. The Hanged Man

  13. Death

  14. Temperance

  15. The Devil

  16. The Tower

  17. The Star

  18. The Moon

  19. The Sun

  20. Judgement

  21. The World

  22. The Fool






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