Monday, February 20, 2012

0 The Fool

King's Journey Tarot Site

0 The Fool

The journey has begun.

We leave behind our home, our castle, and our security, to go out into the world.  We don't know what we're looking for or even why we are doing this, but we know we must.  All we bring with us is what we carry in our sack.

In Chanel's Fool we see our intrepid journeyman stepping off the drawbridge.  What is wrong with him?  Does he want to fall into the moat like the pebbles he has kicked off the drawbridge?  Even his faithful dog doesn't want him to go.  Does his dog want him to stay, or is he merely trying to keep The Fool from falling into the water?

To answer this it would be helpful to know if the drawbridge is going up or down.  The drawbridge going up would seem as if the king was trying to keep his wayward son at home - in the safety and comfort of the castle.

If the drawbridge is going down, we must imagine that this young man is so impatient to be on his way that he doesn't even notice that he's stepping off the bridge.

Every time I start a project, a journey, there is always hesitation - that question - that doubt.  Is this the right thing to do?  Is it the right time?  Will I succeed or fail?  The hundreds of questions can keep me back and paralyze me at times.  Life is rarely a yes or no, a black or a white.  Life is a series of grays - a series of questions.  So I think that he is looking forward to his journey but there are doubts that could hold him back.  But if he doesn't go, then nothing is accomplished. 

It is a beautiful, sunny day, but there are some grayish clouds faintly obscuring the sun.  Doubts cloud the sun of our Spirit - in our Spirit anything is possible; in our Spirit possibilities are infinite and endless.  But how many of us can instantly tap into that infinite resource?  The clouds of doubt follow us, but it is our choice how we react to them.

The tree that we can see in the distance is full and covered with white flowers.  What better time for The Fool to go journeying than a spring day, with nature and the world waking up from it's long winter sleep?  But the weather doesn't matter, we have work to do.  Traditionally in tarot the white flower is symbolic of the intellect, in contrast to the red flowers, which are emotions.  But when we think about The Fool, intellect is the last thing we consider.  Perhaps it is a reminder that our intellect is always present, even in these moments of recklessness and abandonment.

We are all The Fool.  I've noticed that life, which seems like one long journey, is actually a combination of hundreds of smaller journeys.  There are journeys like the ones we take when we leave home for the first time and make our way into the world, our first job, school, our first romance.  And there are those smaller journeys.  For me, a smaller yet no less significant journey I am on now is learning to knit.  It has become a way that I can express myself by making something with my hands.  It's challenging and rewarding and provides me with a meditative way to use my creativity and talent.  We could all point to many different journeys, not only that we have already trodden, but many that we are currently on.

When we deal The Fool in a Tarot spread it can often point to folly - the idea that we are wandering into a perilous situation with an attitude like we just don't understand or care.  Folly is a funny thing.  I've discovered that the greatest lessons that I receive are the lessons that come from when I act from foolishness.  I was once fired from a job because I was so bored that I wrote short stories at work.  Many of my stories were - well - heavily violent and sexual.  And my boss happened to come across one of these when I was away from my desk.  It was a really, really ugly story. 

It was so humiliating and embarrassing.  My boss told me she was disturbed and how could I do such a thing, and yadda and yadda and yadda.  I was so Foolish it was astounding.  Not only was I writing crazy stories at work but I was leaving them lying around.  Isn't it funny how often we do things that sabotage us? So often that sabotage falls in the middle of a time when we think we're really rocking and life is great - and then BANG. Isn't it funny how sometimes it seems like it's our subconscious - something deep inside us - is setting these dramas and painful lessons up?

However, the flip side, and the growth and lesson that the foolishness led me to was the best job I've ever had in my life.  I'd been working at my job for twelve years and was going nowhere.  But I didn't have the courage to move on.  I was scared and didn't trust myself or my abilities.  After two months of unemployment I got a call out of the blue from an HR rep at Advanced Medical Optics (now Abbott) who talked me up for 30 minutes and said I had to come in for an interview.  She was totally dazzled by me.  She said that she had never spoken to anyone like me.  She thought I would be perfect for the Executive Assistant position that had opened up with the Corporate Controller.  Perhaps it was that crazy imagination I had that allowed me to write super-bizarre stories, or maybe it was just my sunny and open personality.  Anyway, my foolishness in getting fired led to a better job.

The point of this story is that often folly is a path to greatness.  But we'll never know when we're in that moment, when the suffering is so real and present and the pain is so all-encompassing.  All the suffering and pain we feel could be pathway to great things.  That is one of the reasons why I am an optimist.  I always believe that things will work out, no matter how bad things seem to get.  And how bad they get, is all dependent on how our minds are working, how we're perceiving reality.

When I get The Fool in a tarot spread I always hope that it will show that spirit of openness and adventure that accompanies the beginning of a journey.  How exciting it is to put on our pack and head out into the unknown!

But what about that little dog?  I've read many different interpretations of what that dog is but I usually think of it as that "safe and comfortable" part of us that doesn't want us to go, that doesn't want us to change.  According to Buddhism change is always present in everything.  Buildings crumble, people age, every seven years we have a new body because of cellular regeneration.  Everything changes and everything dies.

Yet it is so hard for us to accept this.  We are so attached to this idea of an unchanging self that we would defend it to the death.  That part of our mind that wants us to be a solid, unchanging self is going to fight the adventurer every step of the way.  Our ego will not just let us go quietly on our way!  It is going to nip at our heels and grab our coat and try to pull us back into the safety and comfort of the imaginary Self - the imaginary home and comfort.  It is good to have a realistic view of the world and the journey that we're on, but when we let our fear of growth and change hold us back then our journey will never begin!

So let us imagine the fool, with a smile on his face.  He knows that the drawbridge hasn't finished lowering yet, so he's holding his foot up, waiting, anticipating the moment that the drawbridge falls onto the ground.  Do you see that path leading off path the tree and into the distance, guess what?  That's where we're going.  I don't know what we'll find on this path but I definitely know that I'm going.


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