The Fool

Alt names: Le Mat, Beginnings
Keywords: Freedom, faith, inexperience, innocence
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Range of meanings

Light: Freeing yourself from limitation. Expressing joy and youthful vigor. Being open-minded. Taking a leap of faith. Attuning yourself to your instincts. Being eager or curious. Exploring your potential. Embracing innovation and change.

Shadow: Being gullible and naive. Taking unnecessary risks. Failing to be serious when required. Being silly or distracted. Lacking experience. Failing to honor well-established traditions and limits. Behaving inappropriately.

Questions to ask

  1. What would I do if I felt free to take a leap?
  2. How willing am I to be vulnerable and open?
  3. How might past experiences help in this new situation?
  4. In your situation, what works best: your feet on the ground or head in the clouds?
  5. How capable are you of embracing everyone, regardless of their social status or percieved foolishness?
  6. How might the jester's strategy of delivering direct feedback wrapped in humor and kindness work for you?


Personal Growth: Without falling for every scheme that comes your way, you can cultivate an openness to life. What are your limits? What boundaries define you? What might happen if you step outside those definitions? With eyes wide open, expand your world today.

Work: Leap over limits. Don’t waver; now’s the time to jump, even if you don’t have all the facts in hand. Remember that once, every new direction was just another crazy idea. Be prepared, though. Later, your results will determine whether others deem you clever or crazy.

Relationships: There’s a reason we say we “fall” in love! Each new romance makes us as giddy as a total beginner. Don’t allow old habits to smother opportunities for growth. You can break rules without resorting to rash action—and you don’t have to be in control all the time.

Spirituality: You are old and young, wise and inexperienced. Life is a cycle of cycles; find your place in the dance and start dancing. Reinvention is the key to transformation. See who you are, but acknowledge, too, the person you can be. Grace abounds; embrace it. Consider Zen meditation.

Fortune-Telling: Watch for new projects and new beginnings. Prepare to take something on faith. Something new comes your way; go for it.


Element: Air

Hebrew: Aleph/Ox/1

Archetype: The Divine Madman

Religions: Adam before the fall. Christ as a wandering holy madman. Deity wrapped in human flesh. The Holy Spirit.

Fool's Journey: The main character as the story begins, unaware of complications to come.

The Number 0: 0 transcends the Alpha (beginning) and Omega (the end) as there is no beginning and no end. All is infinite.

The Jester: In the royal court, the jester’s wit bought indulgence for his sharp-tongued commentary. As a result, he could say what the king (and others) could not.

White Rose: Held by the Fool in the RWS deck. Represents innocence.

The Beggar: While the RWS and other later Fools are fresh-faced characters cavorting on cliffs, earlier incarnations were beggars -- the lowliest of the low, according to the Renaissance world view.

Dog: Accompanies the Fool in the RWS deck. The dog is a symbol of loyalty and instinct. On the Wheel of Fortune, the dog (or Anubis) is ascending to reign after the Sphynx.

Crocodile: Accompanies the Fool in the Thoth deck. Represents the reptilian brain.

Tiger: Accompanies the Fool in the Thoth deck. Represents a violent instinct.

The Cliff: The Fool is often shown just one footfall short of a tumble; in other decks, he is suspended in space.

Bag: The RWS Fool carries a bag or wallet, presumably filled with lessons from a previous life.

Content generously licensed from Mark McElroy via