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A fresh start, a new beginning. With his head held high and no fears or worries in sight, The Fool sets out on his journey into the unknown.

The first card in the Major Arcana, The Fool is numbered 0 or 22. The following post discusses the first card of the deck and relays the meaning of The Fool Tarot card.

Fear not what is not real, never was and never will be. What is real, always was and cannot be destroyed.

Bhagavad Gita

The Fool Tarot card upright keywords

  • Beginnings
  • Leap of faith
  • Spontaneity
  • Innocence
  • Originality

The Fool Tarot card reversed keywords

  • Reckless
  • Risk-taking
  • Lack of direction
  • Holding back
  • Naivety
  • Bad judgement

The Fool Tarot card description

The Fool shows a young and carefree figure, walking through the great outdoors. The sun shines down on him; his journey begins. A mountain range in the distance hints at a possible path he may take. 

With a look of wonder in his eyes, The Fool gazes upward to the sky. Filled with wonder and a lust for life, he is too excited at the thought of the road ahead to notice that he may fall into a cavern. 

The Fool carries nothing but a small sack. In some decks, he is shown playing an instrument or holding a white rose. A small animal walks beside him, seemingly yapping at his ankles.

The Fool from the Rider Waite Tarot deck
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The Fool from the Rider-Waite Tarot deck

Key Points of The Fool:

  • Planet: Uranus
  • Element: Air
  • Number: 0 or 22
  • Hebrew letter: Aleph

Symbolism and mythology of The Fool Tarot card

Wide-eyed, bushy-tailed and filled with potential, The Fool takes a leap of faith and sets out on his journey. Often, The Fool is shown walking along a path, looking skyward, blissfully unaware that he is about to step off the edge of a cliff.  

The court jester

The Fool relates to the figure of the court jester. In some decks, such as the Marseilles deck, The Fool is dressed in a traditional court jester attire.

In medieval days, jesters were employed by the court to entertain the kings, queens and royals. During their acts, jesters would often poke fun at the royals, but would always get away with their tricks and foolery, and were given a sense of immunity. 

This same feeling is carried over to The Fool Tarot card too. Even though it seems he may step into danger or step into a disaster, he’s actually just starting out his journey and will certainly find his feet as he goes. The Fool will always survive a challenge. No matter how difficult the task, he will be saved by a miracle, and he’ll go on to complete his journey.  

The Fool’s small bag in a stick indicates his small number of possessions, perhaps a nomadic lifestyle. This also hints at the fact that leaps of faith or new beginnings don’t require any things in the material sense.

The Fool Tarot card setting

The Fool is always shown as outdoors. This setting denotes adventure, connection to nature or a journey. The mountain range in the distance hints at challenges to come. These tests that The Fool must face will come in time. For the present moment, The Fool is fixated with his journey. At the same time, the presence of the sun projects hope and optimism. 

In most decks, The Fool is gazing upward. This shows his sense of awe, joy and wonder, and symbolises that he is aware of a greater presence or forces at play. In a sort of transfixed way, he acknowledges the Universe and notes its guidance, but doesn’t exactly make the right steps on the ground.  

The Fool’s companion

The Fool is not alone; he is accompanied by a small animal. The small animal at his feet seems to follow along on the journey. It is bouncing around at his feet, encouraging The Fool to take his step into the unknown. In some interpretations, it is suggested that the animal warns The Fool of his misstep. 

Often, this animal is a dog, sometimes it is a cat, and in the Thoth or the Sun and Moon Tarot deck, for example, it is a tiger. Dogs are symbols of loyalty and protection, in this case, offering a sense of security even in the face of a leap of faith. Cats are considered strong symbols of independence, in which the journey is one that can be taken with confidence. In the case of the Thoth deck, the tiger is a symbol of strength, courage and will power. Whichever animal follows him on the path, The Fool takes his animal’s quality with him as he goes.

The Food Tarot card from the Barbara Walker deck
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The Food from the Barbara Walker Tarot deck

The Fool Tarot Card Meaning

Forever reborn in search of spiritual enlightenment, The Fool announces the start of a journey. Numbered zero, The Fool symbolises raw potential, new beginnings and the start of a fresh cycle. As well as a sense of adventure, a feeling of change is indicated by the card. 

Something new comes your way

When you pull The Fool, the most obvious message is that you are about to start a new journey, or that a new cycle will initiate. Just like The Fool who is about to step off a cliff, you’re on the verge of something brand new; you may need to take a leap of faith or face significant changes coming your way.

Sometimes, The Fool can indicate travel, however the ‘journey’ can be more of a figurative one, such as a mental, emotional or spiritual journey. 

You may be giving birth to new ideas, or a wonderful opportunity may suddenly present itself. You may be in a new relationship, or someone special may be entering your life. A big decision may lead you down a brand new path. The possibilities and brand new paths are endless. 

Stay open to new things that may come your way. Don’ t sink back into old patterns or revert to stale ways of doing things. You’re being presented with a new way of being. Even if the outcome is uncertain, The Fool tells you to revel in the process, as the change that awaits will bring you freedom and joy. 

Trust that the Universe has your back

Even if the course seems crazy, The Fool lets you know that you’re actually in tune with yourself and that you’re acting without fear. You have the courage to be unapologetically yourself and pursue your desires. You may not have the answers or know exactly what your course of action will be, but the finer details don’t matter.

If you keep your chin up, look skyward and believe that the benevolent forces of the Universe are keeping their gaze fixed on you, you will find success. Follow your heart and trust where the Universe is taking you. Release your fears and have the courage to be unapologetically yourself. Let go, take a risk and don’t worry about what other people think.

Relax, have fun and enjoy the journey: if you’ve been looking for a sign, The Fool is it. 

The Fool from the Robin Wood Tarot deck
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The Fool from the Robin Wood Tarot deck

Inner child

In Jungian archetypal theory, The Fool is related to the Divine Child archetype. This also links to the myth of a deity sending an infant to enlighten humankind. This archetype represents the inner child in all of us; the child that has not yet been conditioned or restricted by conventional, societal beliefs.

If this resonates with you, find ways to connect with your inner child. Take back the sense of optimism in your life, return to the place before fear, doubt, insecurity and feelings of unworthiness took hold. Don’t get too serious. Stay curious, play. 

Lateral thinking

Finally, since The Fool is concerned with adventure, a sense of optimism and innocence, it can link to lateral thinking and imaginative thought-forms. The Fool is the side of ourselves that lives without limits and experiences life from a state of wonder and awe. 

When our thoughts come from such a place; from a place where we look at the world in childlike wonder; we’re truly in touch with our curiosity and imagination. This sort of very inspirational thinking, as sparked from the subconscious, can be incredible. 

The Fool from the Sun and Moon Tarot deck
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The Fool from the Sun and Moon Tarot deck

The Fool’s journey through the Major Arcana

The cards of the Major Arcana are split into three sets: the feeling of the physical, the experiencing of the mental and the transcendence into consciousness.

The Fool card doesn’t actually fit into any of these categories, and so is a bit of an oddity in the pack.

Seen more as a stand-alone card, The Fool can be read at either the beginning or the end of the Major Arcana, similarly to the way in which people place the Ace in a deck of playing cards.

With this, as one journey ends, another begins, and we all, like The Fool, find ourselves in a constant state of rebirth – eager to continue in our quest for constant spiritual enlightenment.

Do you identify with The Fool? How do you feel when he visits you in a reading? Read more about the cards of the Major Arcana, and let us know your thoughts in the comments section below! Thanks for reading!

Featured image available from Viva Luna Studios.

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