Perhaps it's not a dog or a cat at the heels of the Fou


Well, as I was editing a talk today given by some guy in the Pontifical Academy of Science, something struck me. (Apart from the fact that a Vatican speech actually made me think about Tarot! :D )

He mentioned that Jean (John the Evangelist) is often depicted as either an eagle or a lynx. The eagle represents sight and the lynx represents reason, according to him.

Now knowing that the Free-Masons are quite big Jean fans (the Loges de St. Jean are where the Masons all stem from - please correct me if I am wrong), and knowing that they are tied up somehow with Tarot - even if they were not at the origin of it - then the so-called dog on the Fool card could be a lynx. Trying to get the Fool to reason, but of course he will not listen.

Oswald Wirth for instance, who knew lots about Tarot, definitely says that the creature in his Fool is a lynx. (He even states very specifically in his book that it's a white lynx, and NOT a red and white lynx as depicted in the decks one can buy on the market. :mad: )

I'm betting on a lynx now, not a dog or a cat.


Freemasons revere both John the Evangelist and John the Baptist, especially John the Baptist – which is why many lodges celebrate June 24th (his birthday)…but back to Le Fou.

Did not the early decks show a reptile? A crocodile (very European) was the most common.

Perhaps to show the ineffable mind of chaos, the serpent mind…


Ahhh, the ineffable mind of chaos ...

I see Diana's point.

(Firemaiden pulls out her trusty Camoin, having at long last been reunited with her secret stacks of hash, I mean stash of decks... sorry)

Le Mat. Oh dear, look at that, pointy cat ears and claws and a boxy dog nose. I cant see the any tail of course. I agree, it looks like a lynx! (But does a lynx lay eggs? If not, why is there a white egg near his foot?) (Of course, crocociles do lay eggs...) (hmm...)

Major Tom

firemaiden said:
it looks like a lynx!

gators don't have pointy ears! cats however...

Rusty Neon

Wirth, as deck creator, could make the animal whatever he wanted it to be. If he wanted it to be a lynx, he could and did.

The mysterious animal accompanying the Fool in the Conver patterned Tarot de Marseille appears to have features of both a canine and a feline. So certainly Wirth could see the feline lynx in the TdM Fool card.

Too bad that Conver didn't publish a Little White Booklet to accompany his deck, eh?

my 2 centavos worth anyway.


I know Wirth could make any animal he liked.

But I also know that he was able to access secret knowledge and I don't think he just made things up on his Tarot deck just because he had a whim and a fantasy. I don't think he would have woken up one morning and said, hmmm...... lnyxes are cute. I'll draw a fierce little lnyx with pointy teeth.

And I was talking about the animal in the Tarot of Marseilles in my post (should have mentioned that, sorry). Wirth was an after-thought.

(I usually do talk only of the Tarot of Marseille in my posts, 'cos to me it's the only true Tarot. It may have grown out of something else, or received inspiration from other stuff, but for me, as for many other people, when we talk about "Tarot", we mean the Tarot of Marseille. But I really should specify in the future, 'cos how can people guess what's going on in my mind.)


The crocodile which Umbrae alluded to was one of the many unfortunate variations introduced into the deck by 19th-century French occultists. Paul Christian was the first to come up with that bright idea, presumably because the inclusion of such a Nilotic creature would lend tarot a more "Egyptian" flavor.

Those $*@!!% Egyptians again.


I thought it was a ferret

A white ferret for purity.

But I believe everything is related to Ferarra (ferrets included).

Mari H.

P.S. I don't think there's really a ferret and Ferrara connection.


Huck's link to the Mantegna e-series 'Fool' did not work, so here is the Atanassov coloured rendition:Of course, the Mantegna set of 5 X 10 cards are not Tarot, though so wonderful to behold and reflect upon.

With regards to the animal at the hind of the Mat, I personally do like the ambiguity of the early Marseilles renditions. Whether dog, fox, ferret, feline or, specifically, Lynx, gives different connotations to the image. Nonetheless, the major tradition, which tends to see in the animal a dog, makes such wonderful sense.