THE FOOL // INNOVATION
Updated: Sep 20, 2022
INNOVATION * FREEDOM * UNCERTAINTY * OPTIMISM *NAIVETY * NEW BEGINNINGS *
THE FIRST STEP * INTUITION * TRUST * HOPE * LIBERATION * FREEDOM OF THOUGHT *
FREE SPIRIT * FREAK * OUTCAST * THE HERO’S JOURNEY * CALL TO ADVENTURE
What you see: *1)
a traveler / pilgrim / fool
a white rose
a cave in rocky territory
What you get:
This is the beginning. The FOOL is the first card of the Major Arcana, the 22 trump cards that complement the Minor Arcana, which we all know from the standard card decks with their four French suits of clubs, diamonds, hearts, and spades. In one of the oldest tarot decks, the Tarot de Marseille, the FOOL has a name, but not a number. This detail is revelatory of the unclassifiable, non-descript nature of the FOOL. Under the name of the JOKER the FOOL found its way into many modern card games. It is the most agile, adaptable, and also disruptive card. The multicolored misfit fits in everywhere and can change your game in very unforeseen ways.
Nerd, Buff, Freak… or Genius?
The FOOL is a relieving sight when you’re blocked or stuck in a situation. He is the out-of-the-Box-thought that alleviates your mental gridlocks, the ingenious idea that doesn’t spring from your reason but from your guts. Very often though these solutions are so unconventional and innovative that it is hard to tell whether they’re brilliant or insane.
"A person with a new idea is crank until the idea succeeds." Mark Twain
As a matter of fact, the question of sanity or insanity is deeply interwoven in the FOOL’s gloomy historical background. The “funny” bells and colorful clothes for instance are of not-so-funny origin. In the Middle Ages people with mental disabilities or illnesses were not subject to jurisdiction meaning that they could not be punished for illegal deeds or inappropriate behavior. But as a warning for society these literal OUTLAWS had to wear eye-catching outfits with bells attached so that people were able to distance and protect themselves and their belongings.
Funny? Not so funny.
With their strange and abnormal behavior physically or mentally ill people served as a cruel entertainment at the European courts. (A tradition the so called “freak-shows” kept up well into the 20th century.) The courtly entertainment eventually gave birth to the figure of the court jester or king’s jester. Anything but dull the jester was a witty person with an extraordinary clear sight and a sharp tongue. Their privilege and job were to talk freely to the monarch without being punished. As an acknowledgment of this FREE SPEECH and FREEDOM OF THOUGHT the court jester had symbols denoting his/her specific status and protection under the law: the crown (a cap with bells) and a scepter, mirroring and mocking the royal insignia.
FROM STIGMA TO CHARISMA
Only when we bear the FOOL’s gloomy or even traumatic origins in mind are we able to fully grasp its power and the radical message it conveys: When the FOOL's rushing in it's time to transform your STIGMA into CHARISMA. To convert your deepest wound into your greatest power. With her award-winning show Nanette the comedian Hannah Gadsby demonstrated how the most deeply wounded people can become the most disruptive critics and most healing innovators.
With the FOOL you can transform any ban into a superpower. His marginal position of an OUTCAST grants you a better view on PRESENT OPTIONS and FUTURE PROSPECTS. Your ability to turn the tables is anything but a joke. Instead, it’s a powerful strategy to step into your Agency and use the extraordinary sensitivity that you may have derived from personal hardships to overturn systemic injustice and blocking barriers. So, what is it that is holding you captive, my dear? Beauty standards? Business rules? Gender roles? Belief systems? Family conventions? National traditions?
TOWARDS THE UNKOWN
Whatever it is, the FOOL holds your ticket to FREEDOM. The Rider-Waite-Tarot emphasizes the passage from rigid confinement into the Great Wide Open. We see the FOOL leaving a dark narrow cave situated in the background and bursting with joy while taking his first light-footed steps and deep breaths in freedom.
Is she/he aimless? Far from it! The FOOL sets out for INNOVATION aka the UNKNOWN. INNOVATION is the name of the game when we only have a vague idea of the goal and no idea of the itinerary. UNCERTAINTY is not a problem here, but a SIGN that you’re on the right track. For innovation is a place we cannot reach through calculations or extrapolations, but only through radical acceptance of the PRESENT and deep appreciation for the unconventional or “foolish” possibilities that lie ahead of us.
Ok, my dear, how do you feel in the face of so much freedom? Are you envying or fearing the FOOL? Is your perception drawn to the golden sky or rather to the dark abyss? No need to worry! Do you see that little dog beside the FOOL? It symbolizes INTUITION, the most loyal companion and guardian of all innovators. … and, anyway, even a glissade can be an ingenious shortcut.
Alright then: Speak your Truth. Go your way. The thrills of Freedom are waiting for you!
I promise, the FOOL is on your side!
What I got:
The FOOL accompanied me on my journey from the remote alpine valley back into the “normal world”. I felt that all the hardships lay behind me. Only wide space and urgent demand for my ingenious ideas seemed to lie before me.
I’m glad I made that step. And I’m glad that I had no idea what was expecting me. On my journey I had to learn (and still am learning) how to turn an idealistic thought into a realistic project. In the rocky territory of the “real world” I made a fool of myself more than once. The FOOL taught me that we must study and accept the state of a system before we can change it.
While I am writing this text, I realize how supported and witnessed I feel by the archetype of the wounded genius and agile misfit. Of course, on a bad day I will still measure myself by the tight standards that are still prevalent in our society. On a day like that I fear that I’m too bossy for a yogini, too sensitive for a leader, too bodily for an academic and too rational for a shaman. On a bad day, this still hurts. But most of the days I slowly grow into my freedom.
*1) There are many different decks with very diverse imagery. But in this BLOG I'm referring mainly to the Raider-Waite-Tarot and the Tarot de Marseille.