This article was originally published on the first version of this website in 2017. It has received some minor editing to correct and update the language.
April Fool’s Day has turned into a mostly light-hearted excuse to play pranks on our friends, loved ones, and co-workers; every Facebook status and shared article is scrutinized much more carefully than usual! Rather than playing tricks (although sometimes I give in and play a prank or two!), I prefer to take this day to ponder one of the most interesting cards of the major arcana: The Fool.
Like a lot of people, when I see The Fool show up in a reading I’m having done for me, I get a little nervous. The Fool is all about trust: in the traditional Rider-Waite-Smith deck, he is pictured looking skyward as he steps off the precipice, and this depiction is pretty common regardless of the deck. The Fool is all about stepping into the unknown, starting off on a new path or adventure with the belief that the Universe will provide what you need to survive and thrive on this new road.
I’m not very good with trust. Like a lot of us, it’s easier for me to hesitate, to think about what dangers might lie on the path and how I can avoid or overcome them. I want to plan and prepare and make sure that everything is in place before I set out. But sometimes, the plan never comes together. I spend so much time thinking about the journey that I never actually set out. Sound familiar?
There’s nothing wrong with being cautious; if you live your entire life just running around without a plan and stepping into every situation that presents itself, that can be just as dangerous and misguided as never taking any sort of chance. But The Fool is there to help point us toward those opportunities where it is beneficial for us to take a chance, to step off that cliff and trust that the landing will be soft - or at least survivable!
If you find yourself faced with The Fool in a reading, think about where you are in your life: is there some element of your current existence that is deeply unsatisfying? Maybe your career feels like it’s in a bit of a rut, your relationship has fallen into the ho-hum routine of relaxed coupledom, or maybe there is some hobby or creative project that you’ve been knocking around in your mind for a while but haven’t had (taken?) the time to get it underway. The Fool steps in and says, “Trust me – you need to get going!”
It doesn’t have to mean leaving behind jobs or lovers (though if The Fool shows up in connection with The Tower, you might have some pretty significant changes coming your way!), but it does mean leaving behind old patterns. Something needs to change – your spirit needs something new to challenge and inspire it! Allow yourself to be vulnerable and open yourself up to some new challenge or experience!
What if The Fool is reversed? It’s time to dig deeper! Is there some new venture the client recently started that hasn’t been working out as planned or desired? Have they really allowed themselves to jump in full force, or are they still holding on to doubts and negativity? Or perhaps they’ve been a little too reckless recently. Maybe it’s time to step back and take some time to reflect on where they are and figure out where they want to go. Here a little planning might be in order, especially if combined with The Hermit. Or another option is that there could be a new adventure waiting for them to jump into but they won’t be able to take advantage of the opportunity until they’ve fully processed through their past decisions and the current situation. Look to the other cards to help provide some much needed context – in my experience, an upside down Fool is not one who should be jumping without looking at the surrounding terrain!
The Fool is unique in that he isn’t numbered, so he doesn’t fit into the progression of the Major Arcana; I’ve seen many books and articles refer to the Major Arcana as the Fool’s Journey, and this makes a lot of sense to me, but I don’t think it’s the only way to view The Fool’s “place.” I think that he flows throughout the “story” of the Major Arcana, providing challenges and opportunities to individuals as they are walking their unique paths. These don’t have to be huge challenges; even some relatively small decisions require us to have faith that we’ll end up better than we started. The Major Arcana can be hard at work mapping out a larger life journey and The Fool can pop his head in and say, “Yeah, that’s great and all, but let’s take a little detour over here!” The adventure may not affect that larger journey, but it will make life richer and more interesting.”
So rather than cling-wrapping the toilet or announcing your secret love affair with Justin Bieber on Twitter, you could try celebrating the day as April’s Fool Day: try something new that you’ve always wanted to experience or take a chance on something that may seem mysterious or a little odd. Whatever it is, large or small, pick something that holds a mystery for you to unravel, muster up all the faith you have inside you, and step off that precipice!
Chris M. Stoner, Miss Jaye's "civilian persona," has been reading and studying tarot for 30 years and reading for clients for about half that. They are available for readings by appointment at The Reading Room inside Willow Life Yoga in Grand Forks, ND.