Entering the Spiral: The Fool

Entering the Spiral: The Fool


7. Outside Influences

Somewhere between the alpha and omega exists the zero, in the Tarot, the Fool. This zero doesn’t equal nothing but it isn’t exactly something either. Because nothing has structured him; he doesn’t have the individuation of a number, he is infinity. He hovers in the time and space before the time and space of the Tarot’s journey. The zero, drawn in Arabic, is the shape of an egg . In that egg there is infinite possibility. It symbolizes fertility and the transformation of birth.

The Fool functions outside of the tarot but in many ways he is the adventurer of the tarot.  Full of possibilities but blind, inclination tells The Fool to act. Unlike the Hanged Man,  nailed to a tree, unable to move but able to see, the Fool can move freely. He must choose how to move but he lacks the benefit of his senses. Able to use the things at his fingertips he has no single element to apply to them. The Fool must act blind. In order to go forth into the journey, he trusts in the universe and his own instinct. This trust comes from his innocence. Having been unchained from the journey of the Tarot, often seen as the journey of The Fool, he feels neither worry nor anticipation. He literally doesn’t know what’s down the road or at the bottom of the cliff.

The Fool is buzzing with potential energy. If he doesn’t choose an action, he might go off the edge of that cliff (as depicted in in the Rider Waite and many other decks). He can’t stay where he is either. Thoth depicts him ungrounded, the souls of his feet facing outward. He can’t stay like that, perhaps falling through space. The spiral depicted in the Thoth representation of The Fool reflects the structure of the universe. The spiral (or many spirals within spirals) is the way I visualize the tarot, perhaps because of The Fool who does not traverse a straight path.

Another key to this card that helps us understand its deeper mystery is its dichotomous nature. Having not entered the realm of “this” or “that,” the Fool has both, which is perhaps why he is depicted blind. Many cards have this duality, often represented as in terms of gender. The purpose of spiritual awakening in many traditions is to balance the masculine and feminine. But The Fool hasn’t reached that point yet, at least not to his knowledge. This card is pre-gender, it is a recently fertilized ovum. Tarot scholars commonly read the element of The Fool as air, a masculine element, but it is the type of air found in a vacuum–not air but nothingness.

When I get The Fool in my own reading it often coincides with or suggests a new beginning of some sort or a big unexpected change. It may be an employment opportunity that I stumbled into or a big move that I’m going into blind. It can also mean that it’s time to loosen control on a situation and act on instinct. That control is often illusory, and with The Fool we can say it definitely is. I also refer to the fact that The Fool has everything at his fingertips and must use something to create an entrance into the tarot. I see him when I feel stuck when my overthinking nature doesn’t allow me to access my own talents.

In the placement of The Fool in this reading, the card speaks directly to the to the cross at the center of the reading (in positions 1 and 2) the Hanged Man and Change. All three cards exist within the space of infinity although the previous two don’t have the same potential that the Fool does to act. Uncertainty defines The Fool but it doesn’t have the heaviness of the Hanged Man or the tension of the Two of Disks. He creates something from his nothingness and while it could be good or bad, it certainly exhilarates and transforms. The Fool makes literally any outcome possible but the reader must trust the universe and her own instincts and really stick the landing.

The Fool can warn of the things you don’t see or can’t, your blind spots. Ill-dignified, The Fool represents a situation in which you act impulsively but perhaps should not. With the combustible energy of The Fool, you could see unfortunate consequences.

Things to ask yourself:

How can I be present in this situation and active without trying to control it?

What are my instincts saying to me?

Am I entering a situation with blinders on when that is not the best (or only) option?

But mostly this is a card about not overthinking it. It’s a card of willing surrender to uncertainty and staying true to instincts. It demands trust.


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