This new feature on the blog has me jumping with excitement! Each week I will select a card from one of my tarot or divination card decks and we'll explore the meaning and pull apart the symbols as commonly (or not) understood.
What the cards mean to me may not mean the same thing to you as a reader. It is important we respect our intuition regarding the meaning of a card or how we choose to interpret it for ourselves, our friends or our clients.
I'd love for us all to open up and read the symbols because often they can be helpful when explaining what we're sensing or feeling when reading for another. Likewise, when reading for ourselves it can be nice to focus on the symbols if we know we may be too attached to the issue to accurately intuit.
If you are asking for yourself you might pay close attention to the symbols rather than the defined meaning of the card and save yourself the trouble of putting the card back and pulling another and yet another until you get the card you want. Ahem.
Also, this isn't a lesson or a "How to read the cards" tutorial, but a fun way to get used to paying attention to all aspects of the cards. The symbols hit us unconsciously, but some knowledge just makes it even better to get a true and accurate reading.
DECK: Motherpeace Tarot by Vicki Noble & Karen Vogel
This is a deck with mostly female or androgynous images, however it is not anti-male. Though, for the sake of consistency I will refer to the questioner as she.
It's fun and appropriate that I randomly selected, "The Fool" to start with as this card symbolizes the period just before manifestation or the actual start of a new beginning or perspective. Typically represented in tarot decks by the number 0, the phrase I often associate with the fool is, "The possibilities are endless."
The Fool is generally an optimistic card. Fresh starts, adventure, innocence, child-like, faith and trust are words many people associate with the card. However, it also symbolizes endings or the feeling of lightness one might have after breaking off a relationship, job or even a way of thinking. The Fool is ready to go and while many readers see the Fool as embarking on a new journey, I see the Fool as someone who is basking in the afterglow of a finished task or someone who is ready to forge ahead, but not clear or concerned about where to go. The Fool is shown just about to step off a cliff or in this case diving into the water (or flipping across it, depending on your perspective). The goal is unclear and undefined, but the person is ready to do something.
The Fool can appear in a reading when someone wants to make a job change or a move, but isn't doing it because they do not know exactly what the plan is. The Fool is a good indicator that it's time to make a move. Take a step knowing it will be in the right direction and if it isn't, you'll still be OK.
Someday, when we're discussing the Hanged One, we'll remember this because while the Hanged One waits, the fool dances ahead.
The appearance of the Fool can be a sign that someone has been stuck in an outmoded way of thinking or bad behavior and a new way of being is on the horizon. The Fool trusts the light will come on when it needs to.
A funny thing about the Fool is that she often appears in readings where my client or friend is challenging everything I am intuiting for them. The classic Fool is thought to be someone who excitedly sits down for a reading and says,"I don't have questions, just tell me what you see!" However, while that may be the Fool, the person she often shows up for isn't quite there yet. She's there as a guide along a new path...a little burst of energy and confidence that shows up to help you out of where you are. People who need her often seem angry or even hostile to the card. They are the ones who ask, "When exactly, will I get the call about the job or find out I'm pregnant? How can I move to Brazil, I don't even have a job? What about insurance?"
It is tempting, when the Fool appears, to tell a person that they need to relax and enjoy the process, but I don't. The key in is to ask questions...why are they not enjoying the process? Why do they think the card appeared? Maybe there are some real fears they need to address first and the childlike wonder will come later.
Your job as a reader is to try to speak their language the best you can. When giving readings it is nice to suggest a task....a little homework to follow up on aspects of the reading. You cannot control what person does when they leave your table or sacred space, but you can ask them to consider (journal about) some questions to help understand why you see what you see and why you're saying what you're saying.
I think it is irresponsible to give a hesitant or unsure person a generic, "Follow your bliss with the innocence of a child!" without posing a few questions. As tarot card readers, we are not fortune tellers. We connect with our clients on a more "present time" level and we need to help them see ahead.
Some people see the, "I don't want to grow up or have things change!" aspect of the Fool...Peter Pan. While this applies, I usually don't see this in the person asking the question, but instead in someone they may be asking about.
If the Fool appears as a love interest or is drawn when thinking of a love interest, I tell the person a little about the Fool and ask how that makes them feel? If they need a rock; someone stable with a clear focus and a lot of ambition, the Fool may not be the way to go. Yet, someone like Steve Jobs was definitely a Fool in the sense that before he had clear vision about what he wanted, he spent a lot of time hopping around India, experimenting with drugs and even after he was fired, from Apple, he said it was the best thing that ever happened to him:
"The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life."
Like him or not, most wouldn't argue that he was a innovative and creative guy.
You might ask a client if she is comfortable staying with someone who may take awhile to find a life groove, but who will get there and is likely to wind up happy and content. If she is, the Fool is perfect because the Fool is going somewhere, we just don't know where.
If she's the kind of person who needs a datebook, a wall calendar and must save a specific amount of money every month, a relationship with the Fool may be stressful.
I'm not much into reversed aspects of cards, but it is important every now and then to consider how negative aspects may apply to the reading. In the case of the Fool, one could say the negative (or reversed) aspect indicates someone who is flighty, unpredictable, reckless and well, foolish. That may be true, but it is up to your client to determine whether or not that's a bad thing. She may need a shake-up.
Though, If you get a strong intuitive hit that she needs to be careful and she's not quite ready to make a leap, by all means, ask some clarifying questions.
The Fool may be unaware of potential dangers on an upcoming journey, but so what? It doesn't mean she isn't smart or resourceful enough to cope if something goes wrong. It may be foolish of me to step out on the ice in heels and think, "It's only a block. I can make it." However, if I fall and break my ankle I'll know better next time and maybe I'll get a few weeks off of work!
Learning the hard way is still learning.
Sometimes people come to a reading determined not to say anything for fear you'll analyze what they say and use it to tell them what they want to hear. That is ridiculous, but as readers we often feel pressure to be "right on". While it is fun when it happens, the expectation from a client that when it does it is "proof" you are legit limits the scope of information she'll receive because the more you understand her inquiry, the better you can apply intuition and the cards.
My favorite part! I love signs and symbols. The Fool in every deck is rich with symbols, but in the Motherpeace she is especially rich!
Let's just accept that these symbols may mean something different depending on the circumstances, but enjoy learning more about traditional meanings.
I had hoped to insert more pictures, but the editing elf isn't cooperating with me today, so I put a close-up of the card at the bottom of the post for reference.
Mushrooms: They are red and white and of the hallucinogenic variety. Mushrooms grow in damp places symbolizing finding ones unique comfort zone, they may also be dangerous if misidentified, symbolizing discernment and caution. They can be used both as powerful tools or deadly poison. There are five in this card and fives symbolize social connections (meeting someone on the journey?) and good communication.
Vulture: Vulture is the familiar of the Goddess Maat and gifts us with a sense of justice, divine order and balance. Vultures are resourceful scavengers who gain nourishment by cleaning up after others. People see vultures as takers, but they are helpers and sometimes at their own expense. This is especially true if they pick up things that are tainted or rotten. Would your energy would be better channeled towards things fresh and new rather than stagnant? Do you need to put something negative to rest? Vultures are loyal, generous and they never hoard food selfishly. They share freely and openly.
Crocodile: Reptilian and representing the "lizard brain" which is survival, deeply rooted instinct and certainly not over thinking! Some feel crocodiles are dangerous and therefore represent an upcoming hurdle, they aren't wrong, but I also see (on this particular card) the crocodile as a bridge. The Fool is going her own way, but she has another option and it is her prerogative to change her mind at any time. Crocodiles prefer fresh water, but they adapt to salt water if they must. This could signal an opportunity before you and while it may not be your first choice, you can do it until something better comes along...however, be sure this doesn't apply to relationships. It's usually better to wait it out, unless this person is on a similar journey and isn't expecting long-term commitment. Crocodiles cannot tolerate cold, so sometimes a person with a crocodile totem may have poor circulation or be pondering a move to a warmer place, but before suggesting a move, back this up with your intuition!
The Sun: In this card, the sun is peeking over the horizon...light, renewal and joy are on the way, but not fully manifested. Solar energy is powerful and can be a strong force for change, but this rising sun can also symbolize the carefree and trustful essence of the Fool. The sun isn't all the way up, but the Fool has already planned a picnic because she expects the best and if not, oh well!
The White Lotus: In many decks the Fool is depicted with a rose and it represents many of the same qualities as the lotus; purity, faith in feelings and the crown chakra. Accessing divine guidance can mean connecting to spirit through meditation, but it can also mean simply connecting with people who are of a like mind and have developed some gifts/tools that you have not. My first teacher was my White Lotus. She taught me so much and I will be forever grateful. I was only nineteen when she took me under her wing and taught me how to meditate, read cards, understand herbs and most of all. . .the importance of timing. These are the kinds of people Lotus wants to pull into your life. Lotus also appears when you need to let go of people who cloud up your world. You can still be connected to the cousin who annoys you, but you also know that some people are best in small doses. A lotus is clean in spite of the mud she grows in. She is above the mud, but not better than and she retains her own essence.
The Fool's Bag: In almost every deck the Fool carries a bag or pack of some sort. Usually it has an eye on it. This pack is my favorite aspect of the card. I call it the bag of tricks, but not tricks as in deception, tricks as in resources. We all have our own bag of tricks, it is bottomless and we never know for sure what's in it. This goes back to what I wrote earlier about the Fool being OK even if she makes mistakes. The open eye symbolizes foresight, planning and psychic awareness as well as the awakening of ones soul. . .kind of like the sunrise. A new life is on the horizon. I love a little mystery and always get a kick out of discovering some new tool I never knew I was carrying around.
The Cane, staff, wand or rod: This represents power and growth. In many decks the Fool's wand is shown with little leaves sprouting out of it. It can also represent past lives or relatives. . . carrying a branch of our former self with us. I usually see it as another resource. The Fool most definitely does not walk softly, but she carries a big stick. It's a tool and a gauge for growth.
The Peacock Feather: The Fool card often has feathers on it, usually in a cap that rests on his (most of the cards show the Fool as a male) head. In this case, the feather is another tool and the placement of it with the cane and bag on the Fool's foot represents guidance. When Peacock makes an appearance you can bet that you are fiercely protected and guided. Peacocks represent integrity and loyalty. Peacocks are also associated with both Lakshmi and Kwan Yin. Both of these goddess offer kindness and compassion. The appearance of a Lakshmi symbol can sometimes indicate a change of diet is in order and the appearance of a Kwan Yin symbol can sometime indicate protection during a pregnancy.
The Cat: At least one animal familiar is almost always shown with the Fool. Usually it is a small dog, in this case it is a striped cat. The appearance of the familiar is symbolic of connection, guidance and companionship...also a connection to the voice of our intuition. It also symbolizes loyalty to ones self as well as to others. The cat symbolizes the mystery and magic of what lies ahead. Someone once told me the animal on the Fool card can also represent a child in spirit who chooses to come along on a human journey. Because the Fool is about what hasn't quite manifested yet, the familiar can also be a sign of a literal child coming into the life of whoever is receiving the reading.
Snow Tipped Mountains: There are usually snowy mountains in the background of Fool cards. These mountains represent the past and what has brought a person to this freer lighter stage of life. The snowy mountains are present even when the rest of the card seems like spring. This is a gentle reminder that the past is present even when we have moved on from it. We carry seeds of memory we may have dropped in our "bag" and they can serve us later. The active Fool is unconcerned with the past, but she unknowingly carries the wisdom gained from old experiences even if painful. Mountains in the background also symbolize obstacles overcome. Fools symbolize endings and beginnings, so it is natural that even a new Fool carries wisdom from past lives or experiences.
Stones: There are eight stones on this card and most Fool cards have at least a few rocks if not an entire cliff! Again, the stones represent tools...stepping stones to something new. In some cases they can be interpreted as little obstacles to overcome while on the journey. When a cliff is present it is simply an invitation to step off into the unknown and have faith that you will land safely. Eights represent patterns and I interpret the eight stones as a reminder not to get weighed down by my past and the idea that what I've been taught by others is always right. The Fool accepts that she has no clue what is right, but knows what feels right and that's all that matters. Eights also represent change and if you are reading this line and have gotten through this entire post, you certainly know that change is the essence of the Fool.
I would be thrilled if you offered your own experience with the Fool. It is my hope that we will meet here to exchange insights and offer support to anyone open to knowing more. Please share this post with any friends you think may be interested.
I also offer detailed one card readings in my shop, so if you are ever stuck and need a little help, I'm here! As you can see, a lot can be gleaned from a single card.
Come back tomorrow to see what I've been up to in the studio and to learn about a book that will blow your mind!
I wish I could show you...
when you are lonely or in darkness, the astonishing light of your own being.