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TheBabelite

The Big System Conversation: The Fool (Major Arcana 0/No Number)

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TheBabelite

Alright, I'm here to set up something I've been really thinking about and that I think we could all benefit from. We have a great forum full of people who use all three of the "major" systems - TDM, RWS and Thoth. Thus, I figured we all should cross pollinate a bit and discuss, compare and contrast, the various cards within. First we'll be looking at is the Fool, though depending on the system even that is debatable.

 

Please provide resources to help when necessary, and exchange information!

 

Attached are the relevant card in all 3 forms, in case you don't have the deck. For those who are experts and know of a better image, I'll edit it here.

 

Also @Saturn Celeste pinging you as you said you were interested.

fool tdm.jpg

RWS_Tarot_00_Fool.jpg

thoth fool.jpg

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Saturn Celeste
4 minutes ago, TheBabelite said:

We have a great forum full of people who use all three of the "major" systems - TDM, RWS and Thoth.

This is a great idea, Babelite and I will be following this thread.  Have fun with it! :thumbsup:

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Flaxen

What a great idea. :classic_smile:

 

For me, the TdM Fool has more of the wandering outcast vibe. It’s easy to read this one as someone foolish or who is on the edges of society. There were different types of fools though - some were highly skilled entertainers, others were ‘innocent fools’ (usually people with some form of mental illness). If they had noble patronage, they could do quite well for themselves - gifted with land or a pension. 

 

The way the image evolves from TdM-RWS-Thoth is interesting. You can clearly see the TdM influence on the RWS depiction. The Thoth Fool feels quite different - more of a fresh, Spring, Green man type. 

 

 

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TheBabelite

I agree with a lot of these observations. As the decks developed out of each other I feel like The Fool became more and more distant from the Medieval sense of the word. I find it important to note that they are often associated with air. Like air, they go where they please, expanding ever outward. In the Thoth the card has birds, in Rider-Waite Smith the fool has a feather. If any TDM people have any Fool - Air connections, please fill us in. TDM is by far my weakest deck.

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Flaxen

The Golden Dawn used the Tree of Life with tarot. The Fool’s path on the Tree of Life is the path of Aleph. This connects Kether to Chokmah - the Source developing a spark of awareness. It is the beginning of the descent of spirit into matter. From there, the idea of new beginnings. 

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Marigold

The Fool in the TdM has no fixed position. For practical purposes, he's considered either to be at the beginning, but MUCH more frequently is considered to come at the END. So there is no "Fool's Journey" in the TdM. He does get a number at one time - but only when he merges with card XIII (which Waite called "Death") which doesn't have a name in the TdM. So when they fuse, they both have a name and a number. But only then.  The fusion is similar to this one  :

 

Image result for fusion dragon ball vegeta

Edited by Marigold

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Arania

Trying to revive this.

 

To me the dog in the RW-card is out to warn and protect his master - the dog has more sense. Much in like a guide dog keeping the blind safe, except that this fool's mind is blind and he won't always notice the dog in time. In the TDM, the dog always seemed to want to bite the balls off, suggesting domination and bullying by others.

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Jewel
On 12/11/2019 at 11:34 AM, Flaxen said:

What a great idea. :classic_smile:

 

For me, the TdM Fool has more of the wandering outcast vibe. It’s easy to read this one as someone foolish or who is on the edges of society. There were different types of fools though - some were highly skilled entertainers, others were ‘innocent fools’ (usually people with some form of mental illness). If they had noble patronage, they could do quite well for themselves - gifted with land or a pension. 

 

The way the image evolves from TdM-RWS-Thoth is interesting. You can clearly see the TdM influence on the RWS depiction. The Thoth Fool feels quite different - more of a fresh, Spring, Green man type. 

 

 

I agree.  Just by looking at them, and forgetting anything I have learned about them, The TDM Fool gives me the feel of someone who belongs nowhere and just travels from place to place experiencing the world as it comes.  The RWS Fool looks like he is in a musical or reciting poetry, he looks like a romanticized version of the TDM Fool.  The Toth Fool could easily be court jester or hired fool for entertainment.

Edited by Jewel

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Arania

At times, the Toth Fool to me is more about fooling others.

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katrinka
On 12/11/2019 at 12:29 PM, Marigold said:

So there is no "Fool's Journey" in the TdM.

Nor is there one in RWS or Thoth. The Fool's Journey comes from one of Eden Gray's books. Just some little offhand musing she threw in, that people latched onto in recent decades and took to the wall. It went viral, so to speak. But neither Crowley, nor Waite, nor any of the GD members who wrote on Tarot ever mentioned it, as far as I'm aware.

I draw the line at Goku, though. You do you. 😁

 

With some of the Majors, the interpretation is near-identical no matter the system you're using. The Fool seems to be one of those. He just goes. He's "not all there", he doesn't think, but he IS instinctive. You get something similar no matter whose deck or writings you poke your nose into, in most cases. Even Waite, with all his purple prose about "a prince of the other world" and "the office of Mystic Fool", even with his Fool wearing "gorgeous vestments" rather than running around with his a$$ hanging out, has his Fool poised to step off a cliff.

The main difference seems to be correspondence. We don't have proof positive, but the poses of some of the characters in the TdM Majors resemble Hebrew letters. Not every card, but they do go in order. It's like a strong hint to those who know what the letters look like, but with plausible deniability (France apparently had a ban on Jews at the time the TdM was developed. 😡) People like Eliphas Levi and Oswald Wirth noticed the poses. They corresponded the Fool to Shin. The Golden Dawn assigns it to Aleph. https://nofaithinthehumanrace.com/777/?deck=gd&changemode=1&show777=1

Since part of our job as readers is to be thoroughly familiar with the cards, we need to be aware of these things. But for the purpose of laying cards to answer a question, it's not necessary to memorize everybody's tables of correspondences. The next deck you pick up might not fit neatly into a single compartment, anyway. Look at this Lasenic Fool:

00.jpg.22a3f33a8e006f86328ba6a391aeb591.jpg

 

Lasenic studied with Wirth and used the same correspondences - there's Shin in the upper right. But his Fool is heading for a cliff, like the one in RWS.
And the dogs do different things from deck to deck - romp, jump, nip. (Sometimes there's a cat instead, like in the case of the Noblet, lol - we know what cats do to dangling objects. Crowley's Fool also features a feline, but no junk-mangling.) Crowley's Fool has a crocodile, as did Wirth's first deck (but not his second one.) These things refuse to fit neatly into categories, often.

But the animal virtually always seems to urge the Fool forward. Some will disagree, of course, and say the dog is trying to stop the Fool. But I think that would look more like a vintage Coppertone ad: the dog's legs braced, pulling back. The RWS dog barks and frolics, like it's all a glorious game. The TdM dog jumps on the Fool repeatedly, shredding his pants with his nails. Lasenic's dog looks like it's trying to drive the Fool over the cliff. Maybe it's not even the Fool's dog, but someone else's, protecting the property from transients.

But I digress. All those little details can add something to the reading, but the core of the Fool is that his head is empty, and he just goes.

Edited by katrinka

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Raggydoll

@katrinka Waite sort of implied a Fool’s Journey. From the pictorial key:

 

“As regards the Fool, this card, which has been sufficiently explained already, signifies the consummation of everything, when that which began his initiation at zero attains the term of all numeration and all existence. The card which bears no number passes through all the numbered cards and is changed in each, as the natural man passes through worlds of lesser experience, worlds of devotion, worlds of successive attainment, and receives the everlasting wisdom as the gift of perseverance.”

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katrinka

Shame on him, then. 😁

Don't get me wrong, there's a definite progression going on with the Majors. But the typical Fool's Journey reduces the idea to a single, linear way of looking at the progression, and it seems force-fitted. There are other ways of thinking about it. Campbell's is interesting:

campbell-tarot.thumb.jpg.1579bef2c5b2087c9510cbf796c30164.jpg

 

There's more on that here for anyone who's interested. The lecture is incomplete though.
https://open.spotify.com/album/0BHfHFq7vCyPiBUevRuGML


Campbell's idea is not without issues, either, or the final word. It's an alternative, and it DOES take history into account. The Majors can be grouped and considered in various ways. Play with it! Lay them over the Sephiroth if you like. You don't have to stick the whole deck together in a 3D mandala the way Jodo did, but do try things other than what get repeated on blogs ad nauseum.

 

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xTheHermitx

The RWS deck was my first deck/system of study, so I am most familiar with it:

 

funny cause in the RWS Fool, to me,  the dog looks like it is also about to go over the ledge, possibly being distracted by it's master, and blindly following; the Fool himself almost has the same expression as well...sort of carefree, or unknowing, or maybe even uncaring?

 

...and it is also weird to me about the Fools Journey...I saw that from the get-go when I started looking at the cards 30 something years ago, and until the is thread, I had never heard of Eden Gray. Until joining this forum, I had always studied solo - mostly b/c I could not find anyone who took Tarot seriously - so in some ways I feel like I missed out on some "Tarot Culture" elements that others got...like the "fallacy" of the Fools journey.

 

But wither way, I have always thought the flow of the Major Arcana is about points in a journey "up" the Tree Of Life.  To me the Fool is at the earthly level - Malkuth - as well as  Kether, and all points between, which is why it has no number, and why I sometimes feel like it should not have been assigned to one specific pillar...

 

One of my goals this year is to refamiliarize myself with the Qubbalistic elements of Tarot, and esoterica in general, so maybe I will have a different idea as that progresses.

 

 

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EvylynRose

I personally never could "get into" any of these decks as I don't find the imagery speaks much to me. (I have a sneaking suspicion my subconscious is as shallow as my ego. 😆) So this discussion is particularly interesting for those details that don't make it into the decks I tend to favor for use in readings. Like the point about the dog or other companion animal potentially egging on or pushing the fool forward is fascinating. I actually had to pull out my decks and confirm, but that is not such a character in decks that I use.

 

Now the Celestial Tarot (which I own because I love its blend of astrology and mythology, but do not particularly enjoy for readings) does show a dog watching the Fool falling over the ledge. But, of course, the ledge in question is the hand of (presumably) Uranus who just kind of watches like a father watching their small child learn the hard way that a cat's claws are sharp or a hot cup of tea is, well, hot. But the dog in the image is almost like "Hey! Fool! Please don't go... 😢"

 

For me, the Fool has always been that new beginning. That youthful walking into the world. Perhaps with overconfidence. Or just fake-it-till-you-make-it false confidence that comes with the acceptance that, yes, it is time to step out and venture into the world (ready or not!). There is an openness. An acceptance that you can and will handle whatever challenges you should stumble upon. It is a willingness to accept risk (or willfulness to take them). Life is a gamble and it's the first roll of the die. It is the very embodiment of the required life lesson of "going with the flow." The Fool is unconditional Trust.

 

All of these, of course, can appear to others as "foolishness" or naivety. And not without good reason. When you are embodying these traits and approaches to the world, when you are new and inexperienced, you are also vulnerable. You may be blinded by the excitement of it all and fail to observe all that is around you. You may be easily misled or simply unobservant to begin with. What looks like a loyal, friendly dog may in fact be a ravenous beast ready to gut you just biding its time while you naively reveal your greatest fears, weakest points, and where and how to get all your greatest possessions. For all the positive traits of the Fool we could all learn from, the Fool is perhaps also the most vulnerable to the hardships that exist through the negative traits and behaviors of others. The Fool will always learn the hard way: Trust must be earned in intervals over time and should not be granted lightly.

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Royalalbatross

I think it is worth remembering the "original" meaning of the fool. In Tarocchi the fool does not follow the normal rules. He never wins the trick but he never loses it either.  It's as if you have two options, but you take a step to the side and choose the third.

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