Updated: Jun 27
The Major Arcana
The Fool is usually unnumbered, although some decks label it zero.
The Fool, also known as “Trumps,” which is rich with ancient symbolism, and dominates the reading of a spread.
The Fool is the innocent adventurer, about to begin an important journey.
The Fool is the perfect example of the importance of understanding Old English.
Erase everything you think of when you hear "What a Fool" and start with a fresh slate.
The Fool, or Jester, is one of the most significant cards in the Tarot, representing the seeker of experiences.
It can imply the beginning of a new chapter, possibly with a risk involved that requires wisdom and courage. It can also mean recklessness and lack of motivation if reversed.
With a head full of hope, he is idealistic rather than practical; he is certainly not dressed for travel. The little dog at his heels tries to warn him of impending peril, but the Fool is blissfully ignorant of the risk he takes in stepping off a cliff.
He is about to encounter danger, but how else can he make his way into the world?
The Fool is the eternal traveler, ready to set forth alone in search of life’s secrets.
We all begin life as a zero, a tiny egg of potential.
The Fool is the cosmic egg, symbolized by the shape of his number, 0.
As he journeys through the major arcana sequence, he is a part of every card, but he also stands outside the sequence, without a formal value.
An absolute beginner, he is about to explore the world, gain experience, and leave behind his status as a zero, a no-being. He will travel lightly, without the baggage of commitment.
The Fool is the dreamer, lead only by his needs and desires.
Usually depicted as a youth, the Fool must grow to become a man in the next card in the tarot sequence: the Magician—an individual who knows life and has identified what he needs to succeed in it.
These items are the essence of his survival;
the Cup to drink from;
the Sword to defend himself;
the Pentacle, a coin, for victuals;
and the Wand to connect him with his higher self.
At this stage of his journey, he is yet to discover the power and meaning of these objects; when he fully understands their purpose, he may progress to the next stage of life, ready to morph into the card I, the Magician.
Even though his number is zero, his preceding card is the World, card XXI. Some tarotists even assign him number XXII/0, to show that the Fool is both the end and the beginning of the card sequence.
THE FOOL’S ASTROLOGY
The Fool’s element is Air, which is fitting, given he is about to step off a precipice into the ether and on his travels will go wherever the wind blows.
While the Fool is not linked with a zodiac sign, he does have a planet, Uranus, which symbolizes independence and a free spirit (as an astrology nerd, but certainly not an expert, I always think of the Fool as an Aries, the spark).
THE FOOL AND KABBALA
The Fool’s letter is Aleph, the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet. It has no sound —it is the breath, the chi, the life force of the universe.
Life begins with a breath, as the Fool is the beginner in life.
Aleph commonly means ox, for endurance, and also instinct, which drives the Fool on his journey.
On the Tree of Life, he is placed on the first pathway between the spheres of Kether and Chockmah—denoting his journey from creation to wisdom.
The upright fool signifies calculated risk. It’s never too late to begin anew and follow your heart’s desire. The journey ahead is not without danger, but it is time to take a leap of faith.
This card depicts those embarking on new enterprises and educational courses provided sensible planning is in place; this is a time for optimism and a fresh perspective.
The Fool brings an opportunity to start over and feel young again or excited at the prospect of a new way of living; the Fool is an embodiment of your spirit, whether male or female, ready to explore and discover.
Whatever you start now will go well, provided you do look before you leap—but once the decision is made, it’s time to push forward and not look back; have courage, commit to your path, and be fully in the moment.
The Fool’s appearance in a reading can bring a sigh of relief, in that there is now a way ahead.
Welcome in the new and travel lightly.
Here are some insights the Fool can offer in particular areas of life:
Home: The Fool can show a young person leaving home for the first time. Also, surprise visitors could call. You may also have younger guests in your home.
Relationships: A new relationship—go with the flow at this point.
Career and money: You may have a sabbatical or a new opportunity in your current job or a new career or enterprise.
Prioritizing your workload is also the key to moving ahead swiftly.
Is what you’re proposing—or a situation offered to you—a leap too far?
The Fool reversed brings out his irresponsible side, as his mouth works ahead of his brain. Without thinking through the downsides, the Fool makes decisions that are not wise.
The reversed Fool leaps without awareness and so becomes the are not wise. The reversed Fool leaps without awareness and so becomes the literal idiot, sabotaging his chances due to desperation and irrationality.
Think carefully before agreeing to a new approach to work and hold back from emotional commitments until you are sure of your ground.
HIS WISDOM MESSAGE
Leap, but look first.
THE FOOL’S SYMBOLS
In the Rider-Waite tarot (my favorite) cards, the Fool appears with these magical symbols. Some of them reappear in other major arcana cards, so learn to recognize them and you’ll soon find you can apply your knowledge throughout the deck.
The dog represents instinct and self-preservation.
The animal tries to warn the Fool that he is about to walk off a cliff, but the Fool is oblivious to his warning.
See this symbol on card XVIII, The Moon.
The white rose or butterfly: The white rose stands for purity and innocence. Some cards show the Fool with a butterfly, a symbol of dreams and spirit. See the white rose symbol on card XIII, Death.
The bundle: The Fool carries little in his bundle—just his essentials and four talismans, the symbols of the minor arcana.
The white sun: This is a symbol of consciousness, of the workings of the mind that are directly expressed. As the sun rises, it illuminates the Fool’s world, showing it all in the best possible light. The sun is white, which links with the Fool’s chakra of the crown and has the purity of spirit.
See the golden sun on card VI, The Lovers; XIV, Temperance; XIII, Death; XVIII, The Moon; and XIX, The Sun.
The red feather: The red feather in the Fool’s cap denotes his life force. See this symbol on card XIX, The Sun, and XIII, Death.
Cards from the traditional Marseilles deck, whose images have inspired most modern decks, are depicted throughout and their symbolism is explained.
The Fool, or Jester, is one of the most significant cards in the Tarot, representing the seeker of experiences. It can imply the beginning of a new chapter, possibly with a risk involved that requires wisdom and courage. It can also mean recklessness and lack of motivation if reversed.
The Fool is the eternal traveler, ready to set forth alone in search of life’s secrets.
He carries a small bundle, tied to the end of a stick, across his shoulders. Early moralists thought it contained all worldly sins and vices.
It is a significant and complex card that represents new beginnings, freedom, and taking risks.
On the surface, the Fool is depicted as a carefree young person journeying through life, carrying a bundle of possessions with a dog at their feet.
The Fool's clothing is often brightly colored, and they are often shown about to step off a cliff into the unknown. The Fool represents a journey, both literal and metaphorical. It represents the beginning of a new chapter in life, where anything is possible, and the future is uncertain.
The Fool urges us to take a leap of faith, be brave, and embrace new opportunities, even if they are risky or untested. Another aspect of the Fool is that it represents innocence and naivety.
He does not yet know what lies ahead and is therefore optimistic and eager to learn and experience new things. In tarot readings, the Fool can represent a need to take risks, let go of fear and make bold decisions.
The Fool can also signify a fresh start, a new phase in life, or a call to explore and discover new things.
He is portrayed striding out carelessly across the countryside with a staff in his hand and a dog snapping at the bag hanging from his belt.
He must make his choices, abandon, adopt, embrace, or discard, in order to attain perfection.
Alternative Names: The Jester, The Idiot
Number: 0 (can also be considered XXII or unnumbered, depending on the deck)
Numerology Link: None of and all of the other major Arcana cards
Astrological Planet: Uranus
Hebrew Letter: Aleph
Tree of Life Pathway: First, between Kether and Chockmah
Chakra: Crown, for spiritual connection, and base, for survival
Key Meanings: Innocence, risk, and beginning
Arcana means “secret” or “mystery
The major arcana consists of twenty-two picture cards, numbered one to twenty-one.
The Fool - Know that you know nothing
Hierophant - Obey
The Lovers - Follow Your Heart
The Chariot - Keep going
Strength - Belief in Yourself
The Hermit - Meditate on it
Wheel of Fortune - Roll with it/Go with the Flow
Justice - Do the right thing
The Hanged Man - Surrender
Death - Change
Temperance - Find the balance
The Devil - Beware of your appetites
The Tower - Expect the Unexpected
The Star - Have Faith
The Moon - Remember
The Sun - Enjoy
Judgment - Face Yourself
The World - Move On