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Legacy of the Divine - The Fool

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Legacy of the Divine Tarot: The Fool


Image:
A graceful, masked dancer perches precariously atop a tilted hourglass, its red sands yet to be set in motion, against a backdrop of the cosmos with the receding planet earth set far below. The dancer reaches out toward a set of major arcana cards from the Tarot that are emerging in an arc from a jester’s scepter that is topped by a jack-in-the-box looking object. A small white dog hangs onto the dancer’s scarf by its teeth, seemingly unnoticed.

Commentary:
This card melds together many intriguing images, both traditional and modern. I think it does a wonderful job of introducing the concept of the Fool’s Journey – the process of maturation and individuation that the soul/consciousness experiences as it moves through the developmental dimensions, stages, or possibilities represented by each of the major arcana (Majors) cards.

The Fool is considered to be an archetypal image, in the tradition of Jungian psychotherapy, and the Fool’s Journey is also archetypal. In fact, it closely resembles the “monomyth,” a construct in the field of comparative mythology outlined by Joseph Campbell in his book, “The Hero with a Thousand Faces.” As Campbell notes, “A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder; fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won. The hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.” The monomyth is found in narratives as varied as the life of Jesus, the Star Wars trilogy, and the Harry Potter series. See the entry in Wikipedia for more information.

What I appreciate about Ciro’s interpretation of the Fool is that he suggests not just the Fool’s Journey, but something akin to the Fool’s Story, where each of the Majors is not merely a door or stage but a letter in an alphabet that can be combined into unlimited combinations – combinations that illustrate a mind-blowing narrative. I think this interpretation beautifully captures the essence of the Fool in a deeply creative way.

In the Legacy Tarot, the Fool appears as a dancer – s/he does not run or walk but appears to dance with the possibility offered by the Majors. This Fool is more dynamic than the one in Ciro’s Tarot of Dreams (which is my favorite image of the Fool in all the decks I have ever seen), which focuses on the Fool not as a force but as a role the soul takes on during the process of incarnation. This dynamism stands as a testament to the emerging contemporary view of the power and possibility of the present moment (as laid out in the philosophy of authors such as Leonard Jacobson and Eckhart Tolle) as opposed to the older Freudian view of the power of the past, rooted in family of origin issues, biographical history, generational legacies, and so on.

This Fool is also childlike – the Puer Aeternus – connected to fairy tales, innocence, purity, and dreams. The mask s/he wears has many meaning but the one that first comes to mind is that the Latin word for mask is “persona,” which is the root of words like personality. The implication is that the personality is a construct or mask a person wears in order to interact in society. It is not the authentic core of the person and it is certainly not the soul.

The Majors bursting out of the “jack in the box” is certainly interesting symbolism. A jack-in-the-box is a special type of legacy children’s toy, a throwback to an early age of innocence, which aligns well with a primary quality of the Fool. Unlike other depictions of the Fool, where s/he carries a small sack on a stick, almost hobo-fashion, this Fool carries with him/her the means to generate all the possibilities open to them – even if they are not aware of this fact. The Majors here look almost like small doors, each one of which the Fool must enter – a dimension of possibility not quite like stepping off a cliff, but close.

The jack-in-the-box reminds us of the playful nature of the Fool and, on a more subtle level, that life can be seen as a game. The scope of interpretations here ranges from childish to the most esoteric, as illustrated in texts such as “The Master Game” by Robert De Ropp, “High Play” by Harmon Bro, “Mind Games” by Robert Masters and Jean Houston, and “Game People Play” by Eric Berne that discuss how to approach the total transformation of consciousness through seeing life as a game or series of games.

On a more mundane level, a jack-in-the-box is a type of simple, clockwork toy that probably first emerged from medieval Nuremberg, a German city known for its clockmaking. This theme of mechanical objects and clockwork is found throughout the Legacy deck. The implication is that the Fool is stepping into a constrained, linear, clockwork universe like the one conceived by the architects of the modern era – men like Isaac Newton, Rene Descartes, and Francis Bacon – that eventually gave birth to the Industrial Revolution. From this flows the idea of linear time – sequentially organized discrete periods that are tracked by mechanical objects such as clocks – that moves from the past through the present into the future. In this view, the Majors would be seen as a set developmental sequences moving in a defined order.

Likewise, the hourglass, set within a square structure with four posts, also implies linear time in a physical universe. The impact here is more visceral, however, with the additional connotation of fleeting life, “like grains through the hourglass”… and death. Ironically, a distinguishing mark of the black widow spider is the hourglass figure that lives on its belly.

In contrast, the energy of the Fool could be consider postmodern in that it punctures and deconstructs social norms and conventions, revealing truths as once a jester did in the king’s court. The reality of the Fool is based in a subjective, quantum universe where there is both linear and nonlinear events – the world of the mind, of imagination. Here something that happened ten years ago can be more real than something that happened two minutes ago. As William Faulkner noted, “The past is not dead. It’s not even past.”

In this view, as suggested by the arcing Majors emerging from the jack-in-the-box fixture, the Fool’s path is not linear but circular. Author Art Rosengarten suggests that the Fool’s Journey is better illustrated as a mandala then a linear set of stages: “As such the mandala offers the proper conceptual and visual framework from which to approach non-linear subjectivity… No single card should be universally designated the “beginning” or “end point”… Instead, the journey must unfold in the present moment according to the “unique psychic condition of its author”…”

The Fool’s costuming reinforces the imagery of the court jester. This reminds us that each door or stage in the journey can also be seen as a role, as a costume that the spirit/soul takes on for a time, only to abandon it for another when the time is right. The Fool is beyond roles, beyond convention, as is implied by his or her ability to be centered and yet off-balance, not unlike the stance in drunken styles of martial arts. This unconventional stance also warns of the danger of falling if one is not careful – the darker or reversed interpretation of this card.

Some thoughts concerning the colors in the Fool card. In Chinese medicine, red is associated with the element of Fire (which is Yang), the organ of the Heart, the emotion of Joy, the direction of South, and the season of Summer. Blue/Purple/Black is associated with the element of Water (which is Yin), the organ of the Kidney/Adrenal glands, the emotion of Fear, the direction of North, and the season of Winter. Gold/Yellow is associated with element of Earth, the organs of the digestive system, the emotion of Pensiveness or Worry, the direction of Center, and the season of Late Summer.

The image of the dog brings to mind the instinctual nature of the Fool but also domestication. This dog is more companion-like here and is only attached to the Fool peripherally – literally hanging on by its teeth. The process of domestication, of moving into the world of material reality, is only just beginning here.

Other Thoughts:
A beautifully rendered card, although the conceptual brilliance of the Fool in the Tarot of Dreams deck still makes that one my favorite.
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The fool


With one foot the fool touches the hour-glass, so that is the start of his journey, he is not alone, a dog is playing with him. The cards are laid out openly, so he can pick the card he wants - which means: he has a little influence on his doom. It is not all coincidence.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Noir View Post
Image:
<<snippage>>

Commentary:
This card melds together many intriguing images, both traditional and modern. I think it does a wonderful job of introducing the concept of the Fool’s Journey – the process of maturation and individuation that the soul/consciousness experiences as it moves through the developmental dimensions, stages, or possibilities represented by each of the major arcana (Majors) cards ...

... In this view, the Majors would be seen as a set developmental sequences moving in a defined order ...

... revealing truths as once a jester did in the king’s court ...
I find Marchetti's casting of the Fool as Harequin / Jester enlightening. If the Fool represents undeveloped Essence which will evolve ... and the World represents the mature Soul (The King) ... it is interesting to note that in historical court society ... the Fool had the King's ear in a way that other members of the court did not. The fool could say things to the king that no one else could. To me, this adds an additional layer of meaning to Legacy's Fool card.
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I like how The Fool reappears throughout the Major Arcana of this deck in The Wheel, The Hanged Man, The Devil, and The World. It helps to illustrate how the Major Arcana is truly the Fool's journey. It reminds us that this key truly needs to be considered and threaded throughout each key of the Major Arcana. I appreciate Ciro Marchetti's use in interspersing The Fool throughout it to help bring this home.
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