Mythic Study - The Fool


Shall we start from the beginning? The Fool

I always look at a card’s image before I read its meaning to see what pops out at me; to see if I get the sense of the meaning through it’s image. I’m only sometimes partially correct. Maybe I focus only on a minor aspect of the card, who knows…. Anyway, what popped out at me from the image of The Fool’s card was that dark cave that he emerged from. It was the first thing I noticed before the image of The Fool himself. I’m just curious, what pops for all of you when you look at the Fool card?

This card kind of confuses me a bit. I don’t know whether to take it as a good message or bad one. When I read about Dionysos, the god of wine, I understand why he is used to represent the Fool. The Fool to me, evokes a sense of loss of self control, lack of level-headedness, not thinking about what he’s about to do, throwing caution to the wind and lets what will happen, just happen. In Dionysos’ story, he was the same way it seems. God of wine (intoxication, losing control), being struck with madness by Hera and wandering the world. To me, this card evokes those thoughts in me, more so than that of it’s meaning that a change is in order and a risk must be taken.

I guess what I’m wondering is, does the Fool card always mean something about change or can it be interpreted along those other lines?


This is my favourite card in the deck. Dionysos, the divine madman, the inspired god of theatre and creative inspiration (where Apollo would be the god of creative endeavour and more rational realisation), the ecstatic. Twice-born, so eternally renewed and rejuvenated, some of his story of death and resurrection served as model to the Christian myth.

We can follow his trace throughout history - he inspired all Greek Tragedy, the founding public art of the West, he whispered his lines to Racine, he is peripatetic Troubadour, Milton's Comus, Arthur Rimbaud, Jack Kerouac, Kurt Cobain...he breathes in every creative crazy genius, drunk, traveller, dancer. He has no ties but his own non-existent wings and his direct link to the gods.

We see him here, the ever-youthful god, crowned with ivy - the poor man's laurel and the symbol of Greek Theatre. He wears animal skins, whatever he could hunt or scavenge, but they adorn him better than purple does a king. The eagle above his head sits on a branch, watchful but unmoving - the Fool will have to soar with the strength and belief of his heart - but perhaps, just perhaps, as he steps off, the eagle will fly and rescue him, one more time, from his inspired and joyous folly and set him on his feet, on the road below.

The path below winds through mountains towards the sun. Reminds me of On the Road.

Is he at the beginning of the deck? I see him everywhere and nowhere. The Walker between the Worlds of inspiration and daily life, of craziness and normality, of drink and sobriety, of sexual ecstasy and abstinence, of debauch and temperance, between heaven and hell - if such categories existed for him - they do not, which is why he exists in-between.


When I first saw these cards I was surprised and intrigued to see the way the traditional symbols/ideas are altered. I like this, because it helps you to re-think and expand your ideas.

The Fool archetype is associated with madness - the Fool in Shakespeare is regarded as semi-lunatic, but it means he can say sharply critical things in a way no one else can. In King Lear theres a moment when the King beings to realise what he's doing and give him a warning. At other times, people comment that he's actually quite wise. He speaks in riddles, songs, poetry and apparent nonesne that is actually great insight. Bit like a comedian - he can do it, because he also makes people laugh.

Society thinks walking into the unkown (off a cliff) is mad. And if you dare to do it, by meditating or learning esoteric subjects like Tarot, you are a madman. The intoxication of Dionysus is divine; the wine represents spiritual ascension, the dissolution of boundaries and rigidities and assumptions of society and ego. The eagle is a higher aspect of Scorpio, the sex energy, implying psycho-sexual elevation. It was also the bird associated with Zeus, who as king of the gods implied ultimate divinity.

However, getting back to my initial remarks: what surprises me with these cards is the way they are non-hierachical. Thus, Dionysus was not at all the ultimate god, but here he is representing the ultimate card. And you see other characters who aren't especially powerful or prominent, representing the major arcana principles. Its an interesting process because - like the Fool, and like Dionysus - it breaks down the patterns of normal/traditional thinking.


Dancing on the edge

Interesting that Daizy saw the cave prior to the figure.

I definetly focus on the dancing fool. He is dancing on the edge, perhaps a silly thing to do. But who doesn't like risks? There's a little Evel Kineval in all of us (I hope). His body language is very optimistic to me. And he's totally unemcumbered by "stuff"....even more so that other deck's Fools who might carry at least a little sack. This Fool embodies not only risk for me but spontinaety (sp?). He's the impulse of the moment. He's that time when we were sitting around at a restaurant at 10PM and decided we'd drive from LA to San Francisco right then (oh to be young again). He's the perpetual youth in even old folks like me. Here's my list of keywords for the guy himself:

don't care what the neighbor's say
trips (both mental and physical) of discovery (versus going to visit the relatives for the ump-teenth time)
peter pan (not always a good thing)
no goal - moving for the sake of moving
play and games
lack of depth and learning

I thought everyone had wonderful insights and provided me with lots of stuff to ponder.

The other thing that pops out to me is this guy's enviornment. It's pretty barren. He may be eating those grape leaves on his head before the day is out. But there is water and the sun seems to be rising, so it should be OK.

Note: I too read the leaves on his head as ivy at first, but if he's Dionysos they pretty well have to be grape leaves.

When I read my Mythic Tarot book, it points out his goat's horns. Boy, I sure missed that!!

I find a lot of comedy in this card. It feels like this guy has the ability to laugh at himself and his environment. IMHO, humor often drives a point home far better than dour "thou shalt" type of teaching. In our culture, late night comics are probably as influential as heavyweight pundits.


Seems I've been looking at the Fool more negatively than positively. Of course it can be negative; jumping into something without considering the consequences etc... but without some of the fool within us, life would be mundane, we'd never move forward....


I'm a fool


Not only would life be mundane, we'd never start a study group <<grin>>

Thanks for getting us started on the Fool

We could also look at "Fool moments" in our own lives. One I can't forget is being in a large meeting at the dreaded werk. I had a spontaneous reaction to one of the topics but I knew blabbing out my two cents was not a good idea. I sat there for maybe 10 minutes trying to keep that damn Fool thought contained and then ended up blurting it out. Yup....made a complete idiot of myself.


LOL True! I'm overly anxious I guess! :)



I just remembered that some have assigned the planet Uranus to the Fool.

I've always wondered about that and just had one of those "boing" moments. Of course!! It now makes sense. I did astrology before I got started in tarot. More keywords (via uranus)

lightening speed
collective subconcious re: beliefs


I like The Fool. When I look at this card I get a feeling of vibrant carefree energy of the come dance with me kind :) I also think of the attached Titan painting which could have been inspiration for this card.


  • THE FOOL - Bacchus & Ariadne - Titan.jpg
    THE FOOL - Bacchus & Ariadne - Titan.jpg
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It is a lovely painting, isn't it, Emeraldgirl? I have a postcard of it on my desk. Free and generous Dionysos, loving the girl a man had ruthlessly abandoned after she'd helped him. Talk about being swept off your feet ;)