The Fool is the unnumbered arcana of the Tarot. Sometimes represented as 0 (the first major arcana), other times as 22 (the last major arcana), it can represent the beginning, but also the end, the fulfilment of a spiritual evolution.
Let’s see what four major masters of the tarot tell us about this major arcana: A. E. Waite, (author of „The Pictorial Key to the Tarot“, in 1911, and creator of the Rider-Waite tarot deck), P. D. Ouspensky (author of „The Symbolism of the Tarot“, 1913), Aleister Crowley (author of „The Book of Thoth“ and creator of the „Thoth Tarot Deck“, 1944) and Papus (author of „ The Tarot of the Bohemians “, 1892).
Waite about the Fool: The Spirit in Search of Experience
When speaking about the divinatory meaning of this major arcana, A. E. Waite offers this list of possible meanings, for the Fool: „folly, mania, extravagance, intoxication, delirium, frenzy, bewrayment“.
Reversed, The Fool can indicate, according to Waite: „negligence, absence, distribution, carelessness, apathy, nullity, vanity“.
When talking about the esoteric interpretation of this major arcana, A. E. Waite affirms: „ The conventional explanations say that the Fool signifies the flesh, the sensitive life, and by a peculiar satire its subsidiary name was at one time the alchemist, as depicting folly at the most insensate stage“. But, for Waite, the main significance of The Fool is „ the spirit in search of experience “.
Ouspensky about the Fool: Unconscious Carrier of the Symbols
In his book „ The Symbolism of the Tarot“, P. D. Ouspensky inquires what has the Fool in the bag and he receives the following answer: „The four magic symbols, the sceptre, the cup, the sword and the pentacle. The fool always carries them, although he has long since forgotten what they mean. Nevertheless they belong to him, even though he does not know their use. The symbols have not lost their power, they retain it in themselves“.
In his „ Book of Thoth“, Aleister Crowley tells us that: „The really important feature of this card is that its number should be 0. It represents therefore the Negative above the Tree of Life, the source of all things. It is the Qabalistic Zero. It is the equation of the Universe, the initial and final balance of the opposites; Air, in this card, therefore quintessentially means a vacuum“.
This Major Arcana is also connected with the Hebrew letter Aleph.
Papus about the Fool: The Sluggard who sleeps on his Way
Papus, in his „Tarot of the Bohemians“, assure us that, from a moral sense of view, this Major Arcana is explained by the following verses of the French occult author and ceremonial magician Eliphas Levi:
„Sorrow lessens in work, in fulfilling a task,
Woe to the sluggard who sleeps on his way;
Like a dog at his heels pain clings to him fast,
If he leave for tomorrow the work of today“.