Tarot Tales: The Fool

The Fool represents new beginnings, freedom, and trust in the universe. Most often numbered as card zero, the Fool symbolises infinite potential and the start of a journey. This is a happy, carefree character who’s blissfully unaware of the dangers and challenges that lie ahead.

In the Rider Waite Smith deck, the Fool (as depicted by the deck’s incredible artist, Pamela Coleman Smith) is a young man with a small knapsack, walking towards the edge of a cliff. His expression is innocent and curious – he’s taking the first step on his spiritual journey. The knapsack contains all of his worldly possessions, which signifies a detachment from material goods and a willingness to embrace the unknown. His companion is a small white dog, who represents loyalty and companionship.

In the Thoth deck (created by Aleister Crowley and Lady Frieda Harris) the Fool is a lusty Jester, wearing bright green clothing and surrounded by four spirals. His expression is detached, and a little crazed. Inspired by Bachhus, the Roman god of wine, and Dionysus, the Greek god of the grape and ecstasy, this Fool is more esoteric than others. The Thoth tradtion explores the Fool’s connection to the divine and the part he plays in spiritual transformation. This Fool symbolises our first creative urge, to ultimately result in our enlightenment and higher consciousness.

Like all tarot cards, the Fool is more nuanced than meets the eye. The Rider-Waite-Smith deck focuses more on the practical aspects of The Fool’s Journey, with themes of innocence, unpredictability, and taking risks. In contrast, the Thoth deck goes deep into the metaphysical, with guidance on the spiritual approach to the Fool’s quest for enlightenment.

The Fool Reversed

Reversed tarot cards are rarely ‘negative’, they’re simply the alternative. The Fool is no different. This is when the Fool becomes a warning to have more caution. So it could be time to think things through more carefully, or about consequences of your impulses. While still encouraging you to have a sense of wonder, the reversed Fool is your reminder to slow down and reflect on your decisions before doing anything else. You may be acting selfishly, taking or missing advantages, ignoring your intuition, or vulnerable to errors of judgement. 

On a deeper level, the reversed Fool can reflect a fear of the unknown, and even resistance to change. Are you holding onto the past, afraid to let go and take a new leap? 

The Fool challenges us to explore both the sunlight and shadow of the horizon ahead – to embrace the unknown and have faith in the journey, while still acknowledging our vulnerability, and learning from our mistakes. 

Every choice we make has a consequence. The Fool shows us how and when to navigate these consequences, while embracing the twists and turns of life with grace, courage, purpose, and just a little bit of fun!

Journal & Reflection Prompts: The Fool

1. Reflect on a time when you took a leap of faith.
How did it turn out? What lessons did you learn?

2. Think about areas in your life where you’re holding yourself back with fear or self-doubt.
How can you use the Fool’s playful and carefree energy to break free from this?

3. What new opportunities or adventures are calling right now?
Think about where you can embrace a sense of spontaneity and openness to take a chance.

4. What is your inner child asking for right now?
Where can you embrace curiosity, play, and fun for fun’s sake?

5. Explore what a new perspective would look like.
How could you approach challenges with a fresh perspective, or a willingness to learn?

Polly is a practicing witch who primarily works with Persephone, Brigid and the Cailleach. She's the High Priestess expert on seasonal Australian practice and archetypal symbolism, and is a teacher at Witch School.