In Tarot Geeks we were examining the Fool card and I observed that he was holding his stick in his left hand but laid it across his right shoulder, a very unnatural posture. It makes the character of the card look rather foolish, and so can be fairly easily dismissed as an example of the qualities described by the card title. One of my group members pointed out that the old Marseilles cards, of which this was an example, were generally created via stencils, and due to the vagaries of the craft, someone somewhere might have simply accidentally drawn the line for the staff in front of the Fool’s neck, rather than breaking the line so that the staff appeared to rest behind the Fool’s neck. This to me sounds like a very reasonable explanation, but I have a policy of not dismissing confusing things as mistakes and rather always giving them as much credence as possible to see what can be learned from the anomalies they present.
A few days later, I was in the kitchen fixing my dinner and I had to refill the salt container. I went to get the funnel I use for filling my spice jars, and remembered it was in the dishwasher. Not wanting to take the time to wash it, I thought I would just be extra careful. I successfully filled the salt container, and only a very few grains spilled around the edge of the jar, making a circle once the jar had been lifted away. Enjoying old superstitions, I brushed this spilled salt into my right hand and tossed it over my left shoulder, as I always do. Then I suddenly thought, no, that’s not right, it’s the left hand and right shoulder. Conveniently, there was some more salt spilled on the stove, so I brushed it into my left hand and tossed it over my right shoulder—at which point I realized I had just created the image of the Fool—hand crossing around my neck in an unnatural movement.
What if the staff is not being held foolishly over the wrong shoulder? What if it is not a mistake made early on and dutifully copied over and over throughout the many versions of this deck? What if the protagonist of this card has an objective that we have been unable to see due to our own dismissive prejudices? I propose that the Fool is intentionally throwing away his staff and bundle; superstitiously, or perhaps magically, releasing them and what they have meant to him.
Joy Vernon is a Certified Professional Tarot Reader in Denver, Colorado. Her specialty is the Empyrean Key Intuitive Coaching, which combines energetic and esoteric modalities to help her clients break through blocks and align themselves with their higher purpose. To schedule an appointment, please visit JoyVernon.com.
© 2011 by Joy Vernon. All rights reserved.