By Linda H. Mastrangelo, MA, LMFT
“… the fool on the hill sees the sun going down; and the eyes in his head sees the world spinning ‘round….”
-from the song “Fool on the Hill”, lyrics by John Lennon
All Fool’s Day may seem an innocent and lighthearted holiday but don’t be fooled. For the Fool is a charged and complex energy. In Arthurian legend it is Percival the Fool who finds the grail and saves the Land and its King. In Shakespeare’s tragedy it is the Fool who is the true sage and redeemer of King Lear. Paradoxically, the Fool is often called the Trickster in universal mythology as well in the form of mischievous Loki and mercurial Hermes, fire stealing Coyote, thieving Raven, clownish Rabbit, clever Fox, and conniving Monkey.
Richard Tarnas, in his book Cosmos and Psyche, connects the Greek figure Prometheus with Uranus, the planet often associated with the “cosmic trickster’ or fool archetype as well as the astronomy and astrology, science esoteric knowledge space travel and aviation.
Caroline W. Casey, the host-creator, weaver of context for “The Visionary Activist Show” on Pacifica Radio Network Pacifica station KPFA (94.1) in Northern California celebrates the Trickster in its many incarnations. Casey who broadcasts the mythic news states, “I’ve been increasingly dedicated to what is called “the Trickster Redeemer” within us all, and whose medicine is really the sine qua non of now, because it brews all of the other dedicated medicines together. And so we say, “as in nature”—you know the only completely reliable teacher. Some seeds only sprout after cataclysm; they only come alive after a flood or forest fire. And so by analogy, in us, some creative seeds only bloom in the midst of being cooked, and like, “Wow!” you know? That’s the return of the Trickster Redeemer, who is interested, again, in many forms.”
In the tarot deck, the Fool is often portrayed as an androgynous youth at the edge of a cliff carrying a satchel and single flower, animal at the heels. It is interesting to add, that the number of the Fool is O. The O or Aleph is the first letter of the alphabet and in Kabala meaning nothingness, often portrayed by an Egg symbol.
Also the book of Genesis the opening word is considered the beginning place of All Teaching. If we hold this truth then we may add that the Fool is not a just a stop in the cosmic journey but a companion that moves with us through the entire deck. You could say the Fool is the Shadow and therefore the Great Emancipator.
If we can locate the Fool in our dreams perhaps we can better understand our selves in our true fullest sense but don’t hold on too tightly. Trickster cannot be caught or tamed only transformed. As Esoteric scholar, Lee Irwin, puts it so eloquently yet fiercely in his classic book Gnostic Tarot:
“First a warning: if you simply play with image, toss them off in the constant flow of the here-and-now, see them only as momentary distractions from everyday concerns, you will never descend or take the inner journey to arrive at the threshold of where, in true awe, you may behold the infinite shores of the Mundus Imaginalis. Take imagery seriously! Pay attention to your dreams and the spontaneous imaginings of your mind; learn from it; understand imagery to be a door into psychic depths once more fully known…”
And in the spirit of All Fool’s Day this article may just be the rantings of a fool…