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Intro to Tarot: The Major Arcana & The Fool

Last month, I introduced you to the Tarot, to the structure of the deck and what the cards can do for you.

Now, I’d love to take you deeper into the heart of the Tarot, the cards that make up the Major Arcana.

Just in case you’re not familiar with the Tarot, here’s a quick overview before we dive in.

There are 78 cards in a traditional Tarot deck. There are two main parts to the deck, the Major Arcana which means big secrets or mysteries, and the Minor Arcana, so smaller secrets or mysteries.

There are 22 Major Arcana cards, and they are numbered from zero to 21. The Major Arcana represent the archetypes, lessons, milestones, initiations, opportunities for growth and transformation that we encounter as we live our lives on earth in these ephemeral physical forms. They are the universal energies that are all around us to support us, inspire us, challenge us, break our hearts, and move us forward. When they appear in your Tarot readings, pay close attention to them, because they always deliver a significant and helpful message.

Even if you’ve never held a Tarot deck in your hands, I’m sure that you’re familiar with a couple of the Majors. Can you guess which ones I’m referring to? Yes, pretty much everyone has seen Death and The Lovers in a scary movie, the one card that everyone dreads, and the one most people are happy to see. Don’t let those stereotypes throw you, Death doesn’t mean doom and gloom, and The Lovers doesn’t guarantee that your soulmate is about to appear. In any case, when you look through the Major Arcana you will recognize many of the figures there, you will see Gods and Goddesses, parents and teachers, friends and rivals, and, most importantly, yourself as you learn and grow throughout your life.

The Major Arcana is often described as “The Fool’s Journey”. The idea is that life is an epic journey, and we, all of us, start out as The Fool, the card that bears the number “zero”. Throughout our lives we dance through the Majors, we meet each of those 21 cards, we learn from them and grow and experience highs and lows, challenges and triumphs, as we move towards our own highest personal development.

It is only right that we start our exploration of the Major Arcana with The Fool.

The Fool, numbered zero, is everything and nothing, pure potential but no experience. He doesn’t know anything, which can be a liability, but it leaves his perceptions wide open, without prejudice, and allows him to see the world through a lens of innocence and wonder. Remember what it was like to be a child, so many discoveries and surprises, seeing miracles all around you. This is how the Fool moves through the world.

The Fool is light and graceful. He has trouble keeping his feet on the ground. He is poised at the edge of a cliff, just about to step off it, not at all phased by the massive drop that lies ahead. He is at the brink of an adventure, and he doesn’t look before he leaps, he keeps his eyes on the sky, and drops himself right into whatever lies ahead.

The Fool delicately holds a white rose between his thumb and forefinger, showing us his innocence and pure intentions. Over his shoulder he carries a stick or perhaps a magic wand with a small bag at the end that holds everything he needs. He’s travelling light, he has no literal or figurative baggage to weigh him down. The eagle head on his bag is a good omen of freedom, clear vision, and leadership. It may be difficult to see The Fool as a leader, but he is the one who leads us into this dance of life, and he takes the starring role in his own epic story without hesitation.

The red feather in his cap expresses his passion and vitality. The mountains in the distance hint at future challenges, dangers, and opportunities for achievement, but the Fool isn’t concerned with the future, he lives fully in the present moment. A little white dog prances beside him, warning him of potential danger, and reminding him to trust his instincts. He is a faithful companion who is ready to accompany the Fool wherever his journey takes him.

So what does it mean when the Fool appears in your cards?

The Fool invites you to take a leap of faith into the unknown. It is better to throw yourself into something new, trusting in the benevolence of the universe and in your own resourcefulness, because if you knew the details and how challenging it is going to be, you might not do it. And that would be a shame, because you would miss out on something really wonderful, a great adventure that will turn out just fine in the end.

No one wants to be called foolish, or to make a fool of themselves. But why not? You can’t be a fool all the time, because if you were, you wouldn’t get anything practical done and you would constantly annoy the people who count on you. But, if you give yourself permission to play the fool once in a while, life gets really interesting. Worries fall away, expectations and ego don’t exist. You experience life fully, both the miracles and the disasters.

So, when the Fool appears, follow your instincts and do what you want to do. It won’t be boring. There is a risk involved, but synchronicities and serendipities will guide you, luck will follow you, and unexpected windfalls and favors will land in your lap. Dive in.

What do you think of the Fool? When was the last time that you got to play the Fool?

Next time I’ll introduce you to the next two cards that the Fool meets along his journey, The Magician and The High Priestess. Join us!

By the way, those Tarot images are from my coming-soon Tarot deck, the Unifying Consciousness Tarot. This is a collaboration with Leo Scopacasa of Orbital Arts Gallery. Come on over to Instagram and check out this soul activating deck! 


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