Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Carpe Diem #185, The Fool (0) (Tarot)

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Today we start with the Tarot-cards and the first card we are looking at is The Fool (0). As I started preparing this episode the first thing came in mind was part of our salutation which I daily use for our episodes ... Travelers ... are a kind of Gypsies ... I wasn't aware of that but the Tarot was used often by Gypsy fortunetellers, but that's the occult side of Tarot. That side I hope to avoid, because, as I already stated in our episode of the first of May, I will try to tell you all more about the positive side of Tarot.
For this months prompts I use the Tarot-deck as made by Pamela Coleman Smith on account of Arthur Edward Waite, the so called 'Rider-Waite-Smith or Rider-Waite Tarot deck. (PS. I will use the abbreviation RW for the Rider-Waite Tarot deck).

divine knowledge
hiding in a deck of playing cards -
the divine Tarot

The first card, used in what the esotorical user calls 'The Great Arcana' or 'Major Arcana' is The Fool.

The Fool
is the only card numbered with an Arabic zero (0), all the other cards are numbered with Roman numbers (I, II, III and so on). As we look at this card we see a a young man, walking unknowingly toward the brink of a precipice. In the RW deck, he is also portrayed as having with him a small dog. The Fool holds a rose in one hand and in the other a small bundle of possessions.

his head in the clouds
foollish youngster dances
through the world

In the various tarot card games such as French Tarot, Tarocchini and Tarock, the Fool has a unique role. In these games, the Fool is sometimes called "the Excuse". The tarot games are typically trick taking games; playing the Fool card excuses the player from either following suit or playing a trump card on that trick. Winning a trick containing the Fool card often yields a scoring bonus.
In occult tarot, the Fool is usually considered part of the "major arcana". This is not true in the tarot game itself; the Fool's role in the game is independent of both the suit cards and the trump cards, and the card does not belong to either category. As such, most tarot decks originally made for game playing do not assign a number to the Fool indicating its rank in the suit of trumps; it has none.

the fool is excused
he dances light footed on his path
to nowhere

The Fool is the spirit in search of experience. He represents the mystical cleverness bereft of reason within us, the childlike ability to tune into the inner workings of the world. The sun shining behind him represents the divine nature of the Fool's wisdom and exuberance, holy madness or 'crazy wisdom'. On his back are all the possessions he might need. In his hand there is a flower, showing his appreciation of beauty. He is frequently accompanied by a dog, sometimes seen as his animal desires, sometimes as the call of the "real world", nipping at his heels and distracting him. He is seemingly oblivious that he is walking toward a precipice, apparently about to step off. One of the keys to the card is the paradigm of the precipice, Zero and the sometimes represented oblivious Fool's near-step into the oblivion (The Void) of the jaws of a crocodile, for example, are all mutually informing polysemy within evocations of the iconography of The Fool. The staff is the offset and complement to the void and this in many traditions represents wisdom and renunciation, e.g. 'danda' (Sanskrit) of a Sanyassin, 'danda' (Sanskrit) is also a punctuation mark with the function analogous to a 'full-stop' which is appropriately termed a period in American English. The Fool is both the beginning and the end, neither and otherwise, betwixt and between. He is the Alpha and the Omega, and is in that way analogous to Christ, the Son of God.

the Son of God
the Alpha and the Omega -
source of wisdom

The Fool painted by Bonifacio Bembo
a part of the Visconti-Sforza tarot deck

The number 0 is a perfect significator for the Fool, as it can become anything when he reaches his destination as in the sense of 'joker's wild'. Zero plus anything equals the same thing. Zero times anything equals zero. Zero is nothing, a lack of hard substance, and as such it may reflect a non-issue or lack of cohesiveness for the subject at hand.

As I wrote in our first episode about the Tarot ... the cards are divine and there is a deep connection with the Kabbalah. So let's look beyond the borders of this Ancient Mystical Jewish Wisdom.
The Fool, as the Alpha and the Omega analogous with Christ, the Son of God, is also analogous with Tiphereth, the sixth Sephira on the Tree of Life (see image hereafter) as used in the Kabbalah and in that way he is WAW (hebrew), the son of the Al-Father or Adam Kadman the archetype of the Heavenly Man. In that way he is synonymous with the Phoenix risen from his ashes. And that way similar to the risen Christ.
He, The Fool, has all wisdom ancient and mystical, but also knowledge of the modern wisdom.

The Tree of Life as used in the Kabbalah

The Fool, in the Kabbalah is synonymous also with what is called "Christ Consciousness". Christ Consciousness is a higher state of mind which goes even beyond Enlightenment and is also called 'God Realization'.

The “Christ” itself refers to the Light that we are – the Self, the Atman, the Buddha nature, the Child of God, pearl of great price, treasure buried in a field, measure of meal that leavened the whole loaf, or mustard seed that grew into a great tree.
“In the abyss of this darkness in which the loving spirit has died to itself [i.e., the ego has died], God’s revelation and eternal life have their origin, for in this darkness an incomprehensible light is born and shines forth; this is the Son of God, in whom a person becomes able to see and to contemplate eternal life.”
“It is Christ, the light of truth, who says, ‘See,’ and it is through him that we are able to see “I am the way, the truth, and the life”, for he is the light of the Father, without which there is no light in heaven or on earth.”
When Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one reaches the Father but by me,”  or when he gave the parable of the treasure buried in a field, I think he was referring to the fact that no one can know the Father without first knowing the Self, Son, Christ or Atman.

Source: Christ Consciousness

after walking the mystical path
Christ Consciousness

Christ Consciousness -
the fool finds his purpose in life

OK ... this episode wasn't easy to prepare, and so will be all the other episodes this month, but it wasn't a struggle. I am happy that I can share a bit of my philosophy of life and my knowledge of the ancient mystical scriptures as e.g. the Kabbalah. I hope you enjoyed the read and I hope that it inspires you to write haiku, senryu, tanka, kyoka or even a haibun. Please share your wonderful haiku with us all here on Carpe Diem, the place to be if you like writing and sharing haiku.

This prompt will stay on 'til May 3rd 11.59 AM (CET) and I will post our next step into the richness of the Tarot, the divine Tarot, The Magician (I), later on today around 10.00 PM (CET).



  1. Veru interesting write-up Kristjaan,well,it's a haibun isn't it! Your haiku tie things up but make them flow at the same time - really fitting well.

  2. Interesting...and I actually thought it made sense to me...I didn't expect it to, being a new topic.
    Thank you for your hard work and creating clarity.☺

  3. Love the challenge of writing haiku about Tarot cards. Well done!

  4. Kristjaan,

    Your article posted here is marking a great range of thoughts...
    Thanks so much for it and for the dedication and for the contribution you made to this haiku project.