Reflections on The Fool

As a rule, when I lay out my daily ten-card Tree of Life spread each morning, I’m not asking a specific question of the Tarot as much as I’m seeking some general counsel—some practical advice, or a lesson to keep in mind as I go through my daily walk. Today’s spread was heavy with Cups. The Four, Five and Six turned up in sequence, suggesting love rejected, love lamented, and love remembered, along with the Queen of the suit, who appeared in the Ninth (Moon) position. I typically associate this court card with a spiritual advisor who I see from time to time (Cancer is her birth sign, as is the Queen’s), though in this position on the Tree, it equally could stand for the possibility that the need to love is as instinctual as our need for food, water and sleep; it is a natural unconscious urge that we are powerless to prevent; only the presence of ego and its powers of misperception prevent us from knowing this.

Smack in the middle of the spread, in the Tiphareth position, was the Fool. Since the card that turns up in this position on a Tree of Life spread typically summarizes the situation as it currently stands, i.e., the “heart of the matter,” The Fool can pose a quandary since he signifies a kind of “pre-consciousness” that goes before any first thought or action. Not entirely sure what to make of this, I reshuffled the deck to lay down a single card for clarification—and wouldn’t you know, he turned up again!

fool

Suddenly it became very clear why The Fool was the “centerpiece” of my spread today, surrounded by Cups on all sides: Just as there is no reward without risk in the material world, there can be no love without faith in the spiritual world—for The Fool is, first and foremost, a card of unquestioning faith; no matter where his journey takes him—on wing to the heavens or into the abyss—he goes forth is a spirit of serenity and calm knowing that he is protected by the Divine energy that wills him into being. Likewise, if we are to truly love others, we must put all of our hesitations aside, and enter into our relationships knowing that we, too, are protected by the same powers of Divine love and light.

Once we have known the sadness of heartbreak and loss, of relationships that we perceive in retrospect to have ended “badly,” it is easy for us to lose faith: To become defensive around others, and to erect emotional barriers between ourselves and other people. We have all been guilty of this at one time or another—but we should realize that when we do this, we are not protecting but instead are imprisoning ourselves. Living in a kind of “spiritual dungeon,” we think we are safe from harm when we are actually killing our truest, highest Self by starving it of the one thing in life that it truly needs: The need to love and to be loved in kind.

How do I read this personally? I have to admit that I’ve known my share of so-called “failed” relationships (though no such thing exists in reality; it’s another ego-deception), and over the decades, I too have grown a “thick hide” and thrown up a lot of barriers between myself and other people; the Four of Cups in my spread today speaks directly to that. An integral part of spiritual path-work, The Fool informs me, is the process of dismantling those barriers, brick by brick, so that I would know love’s true ecstasy again. This doesn’t mean romantic love per se—though the abundance of Cups in my spread could certainly be interpreted that way—but a spiritual reunion of souls in any particular plane of consciousness. In short, The Fool tells all of us, “Don’t be afraid to spread some love. Spread your wings in faith, and watch it happen.”

Some minutes later, I went out to run some errands. On my way to the grocery store, I came across a dollar bill laying on the sidewalk. Nobody was in the vicinity, so I said, “Lucky me,” pocketed the bill and continued on my way. Congratulating myself on my good fortune, I suddenly remembered the lesson The Fool would have me put into practice today—and a few minutes later when I saw a homeless veteran on the corner begging for change, I handed him the dollar, said “Bless you, brother,” and he thanked me in kind. This is not meant to toot my own horn, and in the grand scheme of things, it’s not a monumental act of mercy, but it’s a reminder that there are all sorts of ways, great and small, that we can “spread some love” among ourselves each day. We simply need to open our eyes to the opportunities that are presented to us, going forward in faith knowing that each of us is capable of sharing the gift of unconditional love.

Dante DiMatteo

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