The Fool: The Posse of the Death Card, Part III

Previously, I talked about the Death card. This card has a lot of baggage and misunderstanding attached to it. This season, I wanted to look at the cast of supporting characters around the Death card, to maybe help understand why this card needs to be so spooky! In Part I, we looked at The Tower, in Part II, we examined Judgement. In this piece, we will take a closer look at The Fool and its relationship to the Death card.

The posse of the Death card is The Tower, Judgement, and The Fool. In Part I, I explain why I have chosen these three cards to complement and expand on The Death Card. For that preamble, GO HERE.

The Fool

The Fool Card, from the Pamela Colman Smith-Waite Tarot deck. An androgynous figure seems to dance along the edge of a cliff. They sky is yellow, and there's a small white dog at their feet. The carry a black staff with a bag at the end in one hand, and a white rose in the other.
The Fool Card, Pamela Colman Smith-Waite Tarot

The Fool is the embodiment of potential and possibility. The Fool card is possibly the “cheeriest” of the three cards supporting The Death Card.

Let’s break down the most universal symbols seen on most cards. First, we see the central image of an androgynous figure seemingly about to walk off a cliff. They seem not to be paying attention to their surroundings. Sometimes they are dancing. Other times, they seem to be strolling along. The body language of The Fool is loose and open. Unbothered or unconcerned by immediate events, they often are looking up and out, away from the edge.

Secondly, many cards depict a dog interacting in some way with this person. On some cards, we see this dog biting their butt or the back of their legs. Sometimes their pants are torn, revealing their rear end. Is the dog attacking them? Is it trying to pull them back from the edge? Sometimes, this dog is just hanging out, dancing with or jumping alongside in a similar pose.

Third, they usually carry a couple of items. A cane, staff or stick of some kind, and some sort of a purse, bag, backpack, or bindle-stiff. They often wear a multicolored robe.

Other universal symbols are a bright Sun in the sky, and of course, Number 0 somewhere on the card.

Interestingly, the placement of The Fool card in the ordering of the Major Arcana is a matter of conjecture in the occult world. Most will agree its number is 0. But some would put it at the very beginning of the Major Arcana. However some place it after Judgment (XX) and before The World (XXI).

How does The Fool connect to and support the work of The Death Card?

Above all, this character represents the soul just before birth. After they have gone through the crisis of The Tower, the awakening of Judgement, we come to the place where it is time to incarnate again. That place is represented here. Alternately, for those who don’t use the concept of reincarnation, this is personality just before it is about to select a new adventure, after having gone through a massive transition and period of growth and change…

The Fool is the Holy Androgyne and embodies all and no genders.

This is the state before we are divided into our physical bodies that have some things and not other things. They are youthful because they are ever on-the-rise, just coming up, just coming into being. They are New. For example, this is supported by the Sun depicted over their shoulder at a 45º angle, and not at the zenith. Because it still has yet a ways to go. If it was at the zenith, there would be nowhere to go but down.

The undergarment of the Fool is white. They have a purity about them because they have been washed clean of their past subjective incarnations. For some, they have forgotten all the knowledge, skill, and experience accumulated in the past existence. For others, they are a perfect blending of the cosmic mind, an embodiment of Divine Wisdom. Some illustrators will hide the letters…

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