The Fool is variously considered the first card or the last card of the Major Arcana, thus is either numbered 0 or 22. The Fool is both really, that one before and after the Journey, who finds it comes back to the natural beginning at the end, foolishness refined to sacred innocence. Note, this is just my interpretation and open to contradiction.
According to Seigen Ishin (Ch’ing-yüan Wei-hsin):
“Before a man studies Zen, to him mountains are mountains and waters are waters; after he gets an insight into the truth of Zen through the instruction of a good master, mountains to him are not mountains and waters are not waters; but after this when he really attains to the abode of rest, mountains are once more mountains and waters are waters.”
The Fool steps out with total trust into the unknown, takes the leap into the Void. The Fool is also known as The Madman. S/He has refused all expectations others have of him and is acting now on his own wondrous impulse.
”Be foolish so that your heart may be at peace.” ~ Rumi
In a way the Fool is outside of the game completely, hence 0; the action of the cards takes place around them.
He represents ‘crazy wisdom’, that insight which is instinctual rather than gained from experience. As he moves through the Arcana he will be schooled through the variety of experiences, and once again be wise, but more deeply so. Now that he is off on his journey he brings with him the barest amount of possessions (detachment), a flower (his pure heart) and a little dog (awareness of his animal desires).
” I would be – for no knowledge is worth a straw – ignorant and wanton as the dawn. ” ~ Yeats.
Confession time ~ The only deck I have ever worked with (mainly because it was the only deck ever given to me, and one is supposed to receive the deck) is a very non-traditional deck called ”The Secret Dakini Oracle”. It draws on the symbolism of many esoteric traditions. In this deck The Fool is called The Joker.
It represents the Voidness from which all things emerge; here the fool does not represent immaturity, but rather is ”an enlightened player in the game of Life.” He is in the form of Brahma; positivity and negativity are combined in the double swastika of non-duality; he writes the Akashic records with his pen, and holds a rosary or mala. He ”kicks” the ball of the world. The interpretation is to become the joker, to see the humour in all of life’s situations, God as Joker, and not to get caught up in feelings of inevitability or destiny. Rise above with a light heart. One can write one’s own play.
Some other interpretations of The Fool ~
The 0 key, represents the god force, the force before entering into manifestation, but in the same right, this card completes the cycle as number 22. Life continues on and on in a cycle and the number 22 is an ancient symbol for a circle representing god and infinity, because a circle has no starting point or end. The Fool represents the Super conscious in which he has yet one more step ahead of him, symbolic of the fact that we never come to our limit in potential.
The bright sun over head represents the life energy that is forever rising. The mountains in the distance, even though bleak and cold rising high in the sky bring forth water when the sun melts the peaks, bringing life and nourishment to the ones below. His bag represents the memories of the past, with the eagle on it representing an awakened view towards aspirations. The white rose in his hand represents the pure desire and untainted goals, while the dog at his feet is symbolic of the lower incarnations that are elevated by evolution.
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.
In conclusion as to this part, I will give these further indications regarding the Fool, which is the most speaking of all the symbols. He signifies the journey outward, the state of the first emanation, the graces and passivity of the spirit. His wallet is inscribed with dim signs, to shew that many sub-conscious memories are stored up in the soul.
Divinatory Meanings: ZERO. THE FOOL.–Folly, mania, extravagance, intoxication, delirium, frenzy, bewrayment. Reversed: Negligence, absence, distribution, carelessness, apathy, nullity, vanity. ~ Waite
entering a new phase
striking out on a new path
starting something new
beginning an adventure
going on a journey
heading into the unknown
living in the moment
letting go of expectations
doing the unexpected
acting on impulse
trusting the flow
letting go of worry and fear
feeling protected and loved
living in joy
accepting your choices
taking the “foolish” path
pursuing a pipe dream
being true to yourself
taking a “crazy” chance
trusting your heart’s desire
~ Joan Bunning @ http://www.learntarot.com/maj00.htm
This is just introductory. All contributions welcome.