The Fool’s Journey:
The Fool, represented by the number ZERO, represents the infant stage, innocence, pure potential ahead and optimism. This is the very beginning, where the story starts, and as we progress through the Major Arcana remember that it is the Fool going through these foundational experiences, being molded by each of them as it passes, and reaching the other side as a more aware version of the self. For the purpose of this story, we will discuss the Fool’s journey as stages of life as we grow from infants to adulthood.
As the Fool starts life, the first thing that happens after the infant stage is action. Movement starts, you begin using the tools you have to stand and create new abilities. You manifest what you want by using what you have and what you know and you use the tools you are given to begin navigating life. This active stage of learning and applying knowledge into action is represented by the Magician, and the number ONE, and represents taking action towards manifesting what you want.
After first actions, come internal contemplation and inner knowing. You begin to think for yourself and to determine your levels of trust in your intuition as you explore the world. The first stage of passivity, and inner contemplation begins happening here. This is opposite of that of action of the Magician when you acted because you could, now you contemplate the world from an inner perspective and begin to awaken the subconscious mind to help navigate the world. This archetype influence is represented by the High Priestess and the number TWO.
Once the self passes initial action and first internal solutions come the more external forces of the Empress and the Emperor, numbers THREE and FOUR respectively. These cards represent what is viewed traditionally as maternal & paternal influences in our early lives, or traditionally feminine & masculine influences. With the Empress we are nurtured, encouraged creatively, and shown the way of abundance through gratuity and compassion. With the Emperor we are taught structure, leadership, personal expectations and abiding by one’s own standards. Same as the Magician and the High Priestess act as opposite influences, so do the Empress and Emperor archetype influences.
As the Fool grows in his journey he leaves the inner influences of his closest circle and becomes more exposed to traditional standards set by society and traditional teachings. This can be formal schooling influences, learning societal norms, having a mentor, or spiritual guide, maybe even a coach. This phase of life takes you from the comfort of knowing how things are done in your personal home environment, and exposes you to the standard of expectations in society. More or less, the expected way of acting in line with the rules, laws, and authority structures in place in society. This is learning stage is represented by the Hierophant, which is card number FIVE.
Moving through the journey, we reach the first opportunity for mature choice. The choice to choose another in love and create a balanced unity that involves wants other than just your own. This first aspect of choice, relationships and union outside the family is represented by the Lovers, card number SIX.
Now that the Fool is getting used to making choices, the natural next step is to want to conquer something you have chosen to do and to succeed at those choices. This determined willpower is represented by the Chariot, and the number SEVEN. The Chariot is known for being charismatic, having integrity, getting the job done well, and showing a growing maturity and emotional balance.
As with many challenging situations, soon the Fool realizes that determination of will cannot conquer all obstacles. There is the realization that one must also conquer an inner calm that drives us. One must find bravery, compassion, and patience as well. This peaceful inner power that must be gained to keep moving forward successfully is represented by the Strength card, which is card number EIGHT.
As we discover the power of our own inner strength and calm, we realize there is an appropriate time for action and an appropriate time for retreating within to find the answers. As we seek to discover this inner path to clarity we are comforted by our own inner light, and we grow wisdom in the quiet of our own company. This phase of inner contemplation springing personal growth is represented by the Hermit, which carries the number NINE.
Emerging from this isolation, we come to learn to change again. As we emerge wiser from the archetype of the Hermit influence, we arrive at the Wheel and card number TEN. The Wheel represents the ever changing nature of life, the cyclical forces that naturally exist around us and how no thing, good or bad, can last forever.
Building on this karmic fate, we get our first lessons in balance and understanding that actions must be accounted for with appropriate reactions. This archetype shows us the way of integrity, seeking wisdom and pursuing the underlying truth at hand of the situations you encounter. This archetype is represented by Justice, which is card number ELEVEN.
This stage of growth and maturity leads to new perspectives about life, new realizations about the way the world works, and a new peace and understanding for the flow of the universe. This intentional pause of consideration, of shifting perspectives is represented by the Hanging Man, and the number TWELVE.
Next we come to the Death card, which is card number THIRTEEN. This cards represents the inevitability of transformation and rebirth. As we learn the value of justice and fairness in life, we almost must learn that some things end so that new things can begin. Handling this rebirth with grace, compassion and understanding is encouraged for the smoothest transition.
After the rebirth, comes the understanding of balance, moderation and practicality. You are more able to take life as it comes, blending the ever-changing energies in harmonious balance, and finding the appropriate actions for the situations that come your way. This grounded archetype energy is Temperance, and is card number FOURTEEN.
As the Fool begins to understand the balance and flow of life, there also comes the opposite side of the spectrum, imbalance. These imbalances can come from temptation, addiction, and/or giving in to vices. These imbalances, if left unchecked, can form an internal trap of self-bondage, represented by the Devil, which is card number FIFTEEN.
Discovering the darker shadow world of the Devil leads to the realization that life is not all good, that our actions can cause changes that upend our life in ways that feel catastrophic. This chaotic feeling of toppling dominos can be represented by card number SIXTEEN, the Tower. It is often in the stage of the Tower that we feel at our lowest, unwilling to accept our role in what got us here or unable to accept that the change is done and must be moved on from.
But moving on is exactly how one restores balance after the Tower, and we do this with the help from card number SEVENTEEN, the Star. The Star archetype shows us hope after trauma, renews our faith that life will get better and fosters us to dream of better times again. The Star is where passive but crucial internal healing begins, and is a sign you are on the right path again.
In the depths of our internal hope, we seek turn again to our intuition and our powerful subconscious for deeper healing. It is in the depths of this space that we confront our fears that hold us back, and bring them up into the light so that they no longer foster power in our lives. We reveal hidden truths, we bring focus to things that were previously illusions and we clarify the mystery surrounding the things that hold us back in life. We do this under the protection of the Moon, which is card EIGHTEEN.
As we emerge from the depths and find ourselves again in the light, there is a new sense of freedom, joy, and optimism. Life is inspirational again, reciprocating the good energy you emit into the universe back to you and you begin to feel the sense of fulfilling abundance that comes with the archetype of the SUN, card number NINETEEN. This energized state of exuberant creativity is an ideal time to focus on manifesting your dreams.
In this time of abundance and personal joy, you feel drawn to be more, to become more than you have been before. You are called to become a higher, more authentic and true version of yourself, and you must decide if you will answer the call and proceed down this path of spiritual awakening or remain behind and ignore the call of Judgement, card number TWENTY.
As the Fool fulfills this higher calling, becoming the truest version of the authentic self, there is success, achievement, satisfaction and wholeness. You have unified the inner self with our outer actions and you have brightened the world with your enlightenment. You have reached the culmination of the Major Arcana with card number TWENTY ONE, the World. Now that you have reached the end of the journey, it is a good time to reflect on how far you have come, what you have overcome, and what you hope is yet to come.
Wherever your adventure may lead from here, may you be wiser along the way and more prepared for the archetypes along every journey we face. From here, Tarot decks transition from the Major Arcana to the Minor Arcana, which is summarized by the four element suits of fire, water, air and earth.