Tarot: How To Interpret The Fool

The Fool is the first card of the Tarot deck and probably the most controversial of all. In the Rider Waite deck (the most popular amongst beginners), The Fool depicts a traveler dressed in colorful (almost clown-like) clothes standing at the edge of the cliff with his eyes closed. He holds a rose in one hand and a small sack filled with all his possessions in the other. He has a blissful and calm expression on his face and is accompanied by a tiny dog. The overall feel of the card is good, thanks to the bright colors and the background detailing which depicts the shining sun and snow-capped mountain peaks. The number of the card is zero.

Each element of this card can have several different interpretations. The Fool’s clothes are colorful and garish, which can indicate a happy disposition or a frivolous attitude. He has all his worldly possessions packed in a small sack, which could mean the fool is a spiritual person who is uncorrupted by materialism; alternately, it could suggest The Fool doesn’t own much in way of material items.

We can see The Fool standing at the edge of the cliff, but we do not know what lies beyond—nor does The Fool, as his are eyes closed. The dog near his feet seems to be jumping up and down excitedly. It could mean that it is alerting The Fool to danger or is excited about the new journey.

His expression of bliss could suggest he is enjoying the journey he has undertaken, even though he doesn’t know where his chosen path is leading him. Or it could mean his bliss is the result of his ignorance of the imminent danger.

The number of the card “0” could suggest the beginning of something, but at the same time one must not forget zero doesn’t have numeric value on its own; rather, it suggests pure potential. Zero, in fact, could also suggest “nothingness,” as in a false start that may lead to nothing.

So, with such contradictory interpretations, how does one figure out the real meaning of The Fool? The answer lies in your intuitive guidance, the position at which The Fool appears in the spread, as well as the surrounding cards.

When you see The Fool, pay attention to your first reaction and note it down. Your instinctive reaction to a card is actually the voice of your intuition. Beginners, however, may project their own fears and desires on the cards and mistake those for intuitive guidance. It is therefore important to cross check with yourself and ask if your fist reaction was free of all fear, hope and/or prejudice.

The position in which The Fool comes can tell you a lot about the card’s intended meaning. For instance, The Fool in the blockage/hidden fears position could mean you are making impractical choices or are so wrapped up in your pleasant delusions that you are unwilling to see reality.

In the outcome position, The Fool could suggest the start of something new in the future. It could mean you would undertake a new journey professionally or personally. The start, however, indicates only potential. Whether the outcome of this new journey will be positive or negative is not revealed; however, what The Fool does say is that the new start will bring hope and the promise of a better future. The Fool in the outcome position also advises the querent against taking irrational risks.

In the present position, The Fool indicates toward a period of self-discovery. It means you are ready to let go of the excess baggage of your past and make a fresh start. In some cases The Fool in the present could also suggest the beginning of spiritual enlightenment and exploration.

If the cards surrounding The Fool hold a lower vibrating energy—for instance, The Devil or The Tower—it could mean your overindulgence in pleasures or your carelessness will lead to problems in your personal and professional life. The Fool when accompanied by cards like The 7 of Cups could mean your decision to start afresh is based on half-baked information or illusions.

When The Fool is surrounded by positive cards like The Sun, The Star or The World, it means your new journey will be spiritually and emotionally fulfilling. If a spread with The Fool in the present or future position also has lots of cards in the suit of pentacles (apart from 5 of Pentacles), it could mean your new venture or plan will bring financial success.

These are just a few examples, as there are several different ways in which the surrounding cards can affect The Fool’s interpretation. Cards with stronger negative connotations make the negative meanings of The Fool stronger, and cards which have stronger positive energies bring out the Positive aspects of The Fool.

Until next time, embrace your inner wisdom.