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Analysis of the Fool (0) in Tarot - Part 1 (Symbolism)

Updated: Feb 7

The Fool is portrayed as a jester posing in a stance that could be likened to freedom, very close to a cliff, accompanied by a dog at his heels. The Fool represents innocence, divine inspiration, madness, freedom, spontaneity, inexperience, chaos and creativity; a youth that is driven by his emotions and instinct.

I often wonder if the Fool represents a dream state; that emotional moment of new potential that comes before the mind begins to evaluate the validity of an intention or idea. To illustrate this point, if I had an urge to take a trip because I was feeling wanderlust, is that urge in itself the Fool embodied? -before I discuss it; manifest its parts; create a plan and begin to implement it etc- is it merely the unbridled emotion that comes from a carefree place, a naivete completely ruled by instinct?

The symbolism within the imagery

The imagery does support this conceptualization (examining the Ryder Waite Fool specifically); the use of color for example conveys certain messages that underline the Fool’s reality. Yellow (positivity, optimism. The “mental reaction” within any given situation); Orange (spontaneity, optimism, adventure and rejuvenation. The “gut reaction” in a situation); red (the need to survive, passions, action, energy and confidence. The “physical reaction” to a situation); black (the hidden, the secretive and the unknown, absorption of control, endings and beginnings); white (the divine, or purity, blind trust), Green (restoration, self-reliance, reliability and dependability, being tactful, emotionally balanced and calm).

The sun to his back, this denotes it rose in the east, and the day (as with the journey) has just begun. The sun is the embodiment of Spirit, the supportive guiding force, ever present in the sky and understood in different forms as the journey continues towards conclusion.

The mountains; obstacles to come, but so far ahead that their difficulties can only be surmised or imagined at this point in time.

The white rose in his left hand signifies the purity found in his unconscious mind, this could be juxtaposed with the symbolism found within organized religion’s many depictions of the annunciation of Christ’s arrival to Mary by Angel Gabriel. St. Bernard (1090-1154) described Mary as "the violet of humility, the lily of chastity, the rose of purity." So too the Fool embodies this purity, at least in his intentions – having had the consciousness of adventure’s ambition conceived in his belly.

The Annunciation 1472-1475 Oil and Tempera on wood, 78 x 219 cm Florence Uffizi (s)

The white dog by his side symbolizes familiarity, friendship, trust, guidance and safety. The dog has always been a symbol of loyalty, openness, dependability and fidelity. In medieval times dogs were thought to possess the power to look into a person’s soul and were used to determine if a person was a heretic or a witch. Canines were often included in courtroom proceedings and if a dog stared intently or growled at the accused, the unfortunate individual would be judged guilty of witchcraft and burned alive. This analogy speaks to the dog as a symbol of instinct, the ability to look past the physical and into the heart of intention- following it no matter the consequence.

Embroidered 15th century tapestry - detail of a dog

The Fool’s pack emblemized with an eagle -or a Horus-like image– only contains the most necessary ingredients to move forward, the bare minimum for an unknown journey and outcome. I draw attention to the bags image for a moment.

Horus is recorded in Egyptian hieroglyphs as the "Falcon". Additional meanings are thought to have been "the distant one" or "one who is above, over"; said to be the sky, this all-encompassing archetype can be examined and assigned as the incarnation of spiritual perfection, which can be deduced specifically in this card, by examining it’s numbering - 0.

How does the Kabbalah tie into Tarot?

It is difficult to separate Kabbalah from Tarot and the reason for this is that the tarot was influenced by the teachings of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, an occult secret society in the late 1800's who linked the two schools of thought. If we take a look at the Kabbalistic tree of life, there are 22 paths of the Tree of life, one for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet (The Fool represented by Aleph or 0 for example). The 22 major arcana cards are supposedly linked to the 22 paths. A possible reason for this is that the creators of the famous "The Rider Waite Tarot" deck, one of the first and most popular ever created, were members of the Golden Dawn, thus, they created a deck with a strong symbolic link to the symbolism in Kabbalah.

Card: FOOL

Arcana: MAJOR

Number: 0

Planetary influence: URANUS

Kabbalistic Tree Placement: ALEPH



Hi there! Thanks for reading my blog! My name is Isabell. I am the creator of Ambrosia Tarot. I am a writer and editor, a Leo sun, Aries Moon and Cancer rising. If you are interested in more content feel free to check out my website where you can access more blogs, learning resources, or my YouTube channel where at the end of each month, I post readings for the coming month, for each sign. I will also endeavor to upload mid-month check-in's (love & career). The schedule and all the information are listed on my channel! If you are simply wanting some recommendations for buying a deck, you can check out my store where you can find several decks such as these and so much more!

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