Fool (I)

Notes of a Hermetic Conversation on February 13, 2018

Tarot Conversation February 13, 2018:  The Fool

Phillip and Joel were present

We began by invoking the presence of the Virgin Mary to guide the conversation, as it was the evening beginning the last day of the lunar cycle. We did so through the Hail Mary in prayer eurythmy. We then moved the Lord’s Prayer through the Sephiroth, and the Divine Alphabet (with references to the Grail Knight’s Practice) up through Shin, the 21st Letter.

Observations of The Fool as Vau in the sequence The Sun, The Judgement, The Fool:

– As with other Arcana, it is like seeing the image for the first time, with new eyes.

– We notice there is no number at the top. His hat has only one red pompom; the other would be exactly where a Zero would be at the top of the card (above the frame). In some decks, this is the Zero card; it is virtually unique to Tomberg to designate it as the 21st Arcanum. His justification for this is on page 291. This is also a unique portion of Meditations on the Tarot, as it is quite personal and autobiographical. 

– We noticed in the summer that traditionally in the Marseille Tarot, Death is represented with only a number, and no name. He is the inverse of The Fool; he is entirely quantitative and lacks all quality, whereas The Fool is entirely qualitative, and lacks all quantity. When we look at these two cards side by side, there are many echoes between them. They have a great similarity of gesture overall, but with important differences. For example, The Fool gazes wide eyed to the sky, whereas Death looks blindly somewhat towards the ground. The Fool carries a walking stick, whereas Death carries a scythe. Death is extremely hunched over, whereas The Fool has a very upright posture. 

The position of The Fool’s stick that is carrying the package looks as though it is cutting off his head, whereas the scythe has cut off the foot of Death. 

– The position of the stick on the shoulder of The Fool is very awkward. It looks as though he is holding it with his left hand over his right shoulder. Strange. This stick almost looks like a giant spoon with a bag tied onto it. Maybe that is just a strange shape in the folding and tying of the bag attached to the stick. 

– Is he on his way to becoming the Magician? Are all of the items spread out on the table of the Magician contained within his bag (of tricks)?

– His face is very handsome, very stylized facial hair. It’s a nice face, not so strange or alarming as some of the other faces are. This is in stark contrast to the rest of him, with the cat/dog that is pulling his pants down. He seems to have no idea that the rest of him looks so ridiculous. 

– We have connected the following cards with the sayings from the Cross:

“Father, into Thy hands I commend my Spirit” – The Devil

“My God, My God, Why hast Thou forsaken me?” – Tower of Destruction

“I Thirst” – The Star

“Today, you shall be with me in Paradise” – The Moon

“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” – The Sun

“Son, Behold thy Mother; Mother, behold thy Son” – The Judgement

“It is fulfilled” – The Fool

The association of The Fool with this final saying from the Cross makes us think of The Greater Trumps by Charles Williams, in which there is a sort of chess set composed of mobile Tarot figures, of which The Fool plays a central and magical role. The Fool can be anywhere, is not bound by the rules to which the other figures in the dance are bound—he is able to take on any movement. The Fool represents the most comprehensive state of being that one can have in the flux of creation. 

This goes back to the numberless quality of The Fool:  he is not incarnated or bound to a structure. He is pure idealism, the power of pure idea. 

– In Steiner’s Zodiac of world views, Aries = Idealism. According to Robert, The Fool = Aries. (Taurus = Rationalism = The Judgement). 

– There is something in him that is expressive of the moment when seeing the truth and making a decision, acting, are completely united and happening simultaneously. Seeing directly into the heart of any matter. Stripping away the unnecessary. 

– We don’t want to reduce the archetypal quality of this card. It does a disservice to the archetype to say “he can take on the form of any other Arcanum,” since he definitely has his own, well-defined form and archetype. Rather, we should say that he represents the eternal mobility that lies at the heart of all things, lies at the origin of all forms. When he is present, he re-awakens this within more calcified forms and beings. As much as he is a “fixed” form, he is the form of the Clown. What is the role of The Clown/The Fool? The Clown gets the audience to also become foolish, become clowns. He reawakens the primal joie de vivre, the child within each person. 

– He isn’t just a court Jester, or a fool only in his garb. He is a Fool within, through and through, and a Fool to society for not having a “practical” role. 

– He seems to have no left arm, just a hand. The right hand is so detailed. In fact, it draws one’s attention to the fact that there are three particular zones in this card. The lower zone is more thrashed—the pants are torn, the right hand looks like it is either hairy or scratched. Or maybe like a monkey’s hand. The upper portion is completely the opposite—the head is so beautiful. The middle of the card is a jumble, a hodge lodge.

It is a quite revealing experience to cover the top and bottom of the card and look just at the middle. It could be facing any direction, not necessarily to our right (as the rest of the image implies). 

On the other hand, when one cuts out the middle and only looks at the top and bottom, the form one would assume was there in the middle of the card, the way one would rationally fill it in, would be completely different from what is there. 

This makes us think of the wisdom of the world being folly to God, and the wisdom of God being folly to this world. The way that I would draw this picture out of my assumptions seems wise, and the way it is represented seems like folly. Possibly the opposite is true?

Is The Fool aware of this? Or is he just living in Folly, in ignorant bliss?

– Like Death, there is no overt geometry, but is more orderly in certain portions. Death also has this strong 3-foldness that we noticed in The Fool (Upper, Middle, Lower). For Death, we have the intricate details in the skull and midsection, then the diagonal stripes of the arms, legs, and scythe, then the blackened mess at the bottom. 

– The blue tassels look like they are just hanging from the stick, like it’s a curtain on a stage.  The round balls on the pole:  are they connected to the collar? There are many bulges and baubles on this card:  on the hat, the stick, the collar and the belt. The sack is covering one of the baubles on the collar. 

– The Fool is the inverse of Death. Then we see in this sequence:  The Sun, The Judgement, The Fool that the opposite of Death is what follows the miraculous resurrection of The Judgement.

The sequence of Force, Hanged Man, Death is a process of descent, whereas the sequence The Sun, The Judgement, The Fool is a process of ascent. Notice the two different communions in Force and The Sun:  in Force, there is an element of above and below, the woman is operating a gentle authority over the lion/dog, and he obeys here, whereas in The Sun, the two youths are equals, coming into physical contact in a more egalitarian fashion. The Hanged Man and The Judgement are clear opposites:  The Hanged Man looks as though he is being lowered over a pit, or raised out upside down, whereas The Judgement shows someone rising upright from a tomb. 

Force has a more internal dialogue, taming the animal within so to speak, whereas The Sun is a more external confrontation—an actual encounter with a divine spiritual being, an experience that, according to Tomberg, erases all doubt. One is then raised up (Judgement), but then left at the mercy of the world around one (The Fool). 

– The Fool = Lazarus.  In Anne Catherine Emmerich, he’s portrayed as a kind of archetypal hero. Socialite, unlimited funds and wisdom. 

In delivering the karmic biography of Isaac/Nicodemus/Anfortas/Paracelsus/Willi Sucher to some friends at Plowshare over the Holy Nights, Joel came to a certain realization about the contrast between the Night Disciples and Day Disciples. The Night Disciples were facilitators:  they had a kind of foreknowledge of the Messiah; they arranged for places to stay and to speak; supplied food and other supplies to the Day Disciples; they cared for the physical body of Christ in the night, and communed in an esoteric/spiritual way with Christ. They were a Chalice for Christ:  they were like the stage crew, working behind the scenes to facilitate the physical activity of Christ. But their foreknowledge of Christ was very different from the reality they then confronted; Christ’s manifestation was very different from the Messiah/King they expected, one who would overthrow the Romans and liberate the Jews. Their wise foreknowledge became folly in the face of reality. We are in a similar situation:  having foreknowledge of the incarnation of Ahriman, etc, yet the reality has taken us by surprise and continues to take us by surprise. What we thought was wisdom is reduced to folly by the reality of the situation. Are we still able to be facilitators behind the scenes of the spiritual necessities of our time?

– Throughout all of this, it is clear that The Fool is asking for The Emperor. The sequence of the Vau cards:

The Empress; The Lover; The Hermit; Hanged Man; The Devil; The Moon; The Fool

is a path from Sacred Magic (The Empress) to Hermeticism (The Fool) which becomes The Emperor. 

It is like a path lying between Repanse de Schoye (Empress) and Anfortas (Emperor). There is a big “Man of Righteousness” theme, a Job/Faust theme. 

This is an intense story, in stark contrast to the story of the other two paths:  “You will be broken.” 

The Lover becomes a sort of Fall from Paradise, with Lilith and Eve flanking Adam. 

A stark and difficult journey. Unlike the other two stories, this might not have a happy ending. There is a tragedy in the transition from Sacred Magic to Hermeticism, a death process.

It reminds one of Nietzsche, who had so much spiritual promise, who should have been a servant of the Maitreya, and fell so far from that potential. There is no guarantee that any of us fulfills our true potential. 

It’s a bit like the story of Anthroposophy, the journey from the 1st Goetheanum (Sacred Magic par excellence) to the 2nd (Hermeticism). 

If the Empress wasn’t there at the initiation of the sequence, the other elements would lose their forward/upward mobility—they would never lead to The Fool/The Emperor, but would stagnate. 

In the life cycle of the plant, it is like Fruit (Sacred Magic) leading to Seed (Hermeticism). For us and our desires, the fruit is the goal; but for the plant, the goal is for the fruit to be consumed so that the seed can carry on. We make the same mistake looking at history. We wish for the Sacred Magic of Anthroposophy to carry on indefinitely, whereas what is/was healthy was for the Fruit to be consumed (burning of the Goetheanum), so that something could be preserved. Anthroposophy is in so many ways inadequate, but maybe the whole point was to carry a seed. The Emperor=Seed. He is not fighting, he is preserving. In our correspondences between Grail Knight’s Practice and the Tarot, the Emperor = “Paradise; nourishment from the Force of Seeds.” Whereas the Empress = “The Gethsemane Experience and the Levels of Apocalyptic Judgement”, which is a characterization of the entire path in between the two. 

In fact, this is the balance and contrast between Steiner (Archetypal Initiate) and the seemingly inadequate representatives of Christian occultism of the present day. Increasingly since his death, we seem to fall short of the potential. We are striving ignorantly to be little Rudolf Steiners, which causes us to miss the mark and mislead others. Our spiritual teachers are often incarnated as those with special needs, or those who are almost unknown to the outer world. We are in the state of The Fool. Our generation, the coming generation, has the task of finding the 4th path, from The Emperor to The World (and hence, the Minor Arcana). We are the ones who can move beyond the Fool. We have to acknowledge that we are Anfortas, and not Parzival (or Steiner, for that matter!). The Emperor is the one who looks back on this 3rd Path and reflects upon it, digests it, while the Fool just strides on blindly ahead. We have the duty and responsibility of taking stock.

– In a way, this story is like Frodo in Lord of the Rings, he is never the same again after his self-sacrifice. The same with Twin Peaks. The idea that self-sacrifice doesn’t necessarily bring with it the guarantee of rehabilitation, that some piece is always out of sync, damaged. This could be tied up with the redemption of Lucifer—even if he is redeemed, the consequences of all his prior actions remain. 

The path from Mysticism to Gnosis = “The Christ Will in the encircling round holds sway, bestowing Grace upon the soul.” The Sun as the Being of Time/Duration, bestowing grace on the two youths.

The path from Gnosis to Sacred Magic = “The Father Spirit in the Heights holds sway, in depths of worlds, begetting being.” The whole process from High Priestess through Resurrection as one of gestation and birth/rebirth

The path from Sacred Magic to Hermeticism = “The World Thoughts of the Spirit hold sway, in beings of worlds, beseeching light.” This stanza is tied to the event of Pentecost. Redeemed Lucifer as The Fool—Pentecost and the Rehabilitation of Sophia (the World Thoughts/True Imagination). 

Q/Trump as a phenomenon of The Fool transitioning to The Emperor: taking stock, the story being told/processed. Someone who might be a hero, but it might be that he is never recognized as such. A true sacrifice, that everyone else can reap the benefit of.

We ended with the closing of the Knight’s Practice.