TRUMP 0 - THE FOOL
We will begin our investigation of the symbolism of the Tarot with the Major Arcana. If you take out your deck, you will see the first 22 cards are strikingly different from the rest of the cards. They each have different words at the bottom describing what they are, and different numbers at the top--0 through 21.
As I said previously, they relate to each of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. We will start with #0, the Fool. This symbol is the most complex and difficult to interpret in the entire deck. Why? Because the reality and the power which it symbolizes is the farthest removed from our day to day consciousness. The Tarot cards symbolize realities and experiences which transcend their physical images.
What is symbolized in the Fool? When you begin to examine each Tarot card, clear your mind and observe very carefully. What do we see on the card? Obviously we see a man or a young boy dressed in a remarkable gown with a backpack in his right hand over his right shoulder, with a white rose in his left hand. He is standing on the very edge of a cliff which is beginning to crumble. At his heels is a white dog. In the background we see a huge, ice covered mountain. It is apparent from where he stands that he is quite high into the air, because the Sun is beating down behind his head.
How can such a seemingly silly picture mean anything? How can it have any spiritual power? It has spiritual power because this card is full of symbolism--symbolism which points to a reality far beyond your imagination, far beyond your experience. It is impossible for me to describe to you what the Fool symbolizes. I will attempt to do so, but all the words that I use will be very feeble compared to the ultimate reality that is symbolized in the Fool.
The first thing we notice in terms of the symbolism are the four primal elements. We have the earth in the cliff that he stands on. We have the water, frozen in the snowy, icy mountains behind him. We have the air, which he stands so high within, and we have the fire in the form of the Sun, shining and illuminating the entire scene.
From the symbolism, it is then apparent that the sum total of all creation is embodied in this card. In other cards we have different parts of these items, but in their natural form, this is the only card where we see all four elements so clearly displayed.
Next, look at the man. The man is given the number zero. This indicates that this card stands outside of the domain of the rest of the cards. Many people do not know that the #0 was the last number to have been invented by the human mind. The numbers 1, 2, 3 etc.. were selected relatively early, but the idea of zero being a number with properties of its own is a relatively new development in mankind’s brain. What are its principles?
Zero plus anything equals anything. Zero times anything equals zero. Zero then has a split personality. If zero is added to something, that something remains completely unchanged. In that respect, zero is the least obtrusive of all numbers. It is completely invisible and has no effect whatsoever in the domain of addition. If, however, you are going to multiply a number by zero, then the result is zero.
Addition and multiplication, you see, also symbolize things. If we put it into human terms, I think you could say that addition is friendship. You and I can stand shoulder to shoulder, become added together and thus form a bond. Neither of us loses our identity. But, if we become married, at least in theory, we are no longer two people, but only one person. Our individual lives have become merged into the greater union. When we simply add the Fool to our lives, our lives remain exactly as they were. If we attempt to retain any part of ourselves, then we will remain completely unaffected by the Fool, whatever it turns out to be. If we marry ourselves to the Fool, then we will discover that we no longer exist, and the only reality is the Fool. This gives you a very great clue as to what the Fool is.
The number zero has been associated also with a letter. This Tarot card relates to the letter Aleph which is the Hebrew equivalent of our letter (A), but not quite. You see our letter (A) has a sound of “ah” or “ay.” In Hebrew, the Aleph is completely silent. They have other vowels for the sound “ah.” The Aleph is the silence before the storm. The Aleph is that moment of hesitation before one actually speaks.
The Fool is actually standing approximately in the form of an Aleph. This is the starting point. This is the moment of silence before the dawn of creation. The first letter in the Bible is a Beth, which is our letter (B). This is meant to indicate, the Kabbalists say, that before God created the world, He still existed and still had activities and life. The first moment of physical creation is embodied in the (B). The eternal realities of God, before the physical creation began, are embodied in the Aleph. This is bringing us much closer to the meaning of the Fool.
As the Fool stands in the position of the Aleph, the significance becomes quite profound. As I indicated to you before, you must have some familiarity with the holy name of God. I will summarize a little bit of this for you because it is essential to the understanding of what the Fool is all about.
Most people think that God's name is God. God is not God's name. Those who know that God has a name think that it is Jehovah or see it as being Yahweh. These are better and worse names for God and are based upon biblical statements. In the Bible, we have a YHWH, which is sometimes pronounced Yahweh and/or Jehovah. Throughout the Bible, that is the name that is used the most, but it is not the original name that God gave to His people.
If you read Exodus, chapter 3 in Hebrew, you will see that when God tells Moses His name for the first time He says, “AHYH, Aleph Heh Yod Heh.” This is an absolutely essential revelation. Exodus 3 gives God's official name as AHYH ASR AHYH, Aleph Heh Yod Heh - Aleph Shin Resh - Aleph Heh Yod Heh. In English, that translates into a sentence meaning “I will be what I will be.”
As Moses came down the mountain and the people said what is God's name, Moses said, “I will be what I will be.” The people (we learn this from the Jewish oral tradition) said “you can't say that!” Moses said, “Well that's what His name is.” And the people said, “Well O.K. fine, but you can't say, ‘I will be what I will be.’ All you can say is ‘He will be what He will be’.” He will be is YHWH, and when the Christian Bible translates Exodus, chapter 3 as “I am that I am,” they completely miss both statements. They do not translate His name as it should be, “I will be what I will be.” They do not even translate it as, “He will be what He will be,” but rather “I am that I am.” There is so much ignorance and darkness in this matter.
This is the single most important religious matter that a human being can know, and it truly is desperately sad to see the human condition having fallen into a state of such total ignorance about this holy and sacred matter.
We see inside of the Tarot cards the Aleph Heh Yod Heh and the Yod Heh Vav Heh. The Yod Heh Vav Heh is what you might call the exoteric name of God. Aleph Heh Yod Heh is the esoteric or hidden name of God. That is another clue to the nature of the Fool. As you continue to look at this card, concentrate on his robe or gown. This is a remarkable creation. It symbolizes two things. All those little miniature wheels and dials and bursts, symbolize the galaxies which God will soon create. Secondly, if you look carefully and count them, you will in fact find that there are 12 such wheels or centers or sparkles on the robe, exactly 12.
The symbolism is very powerful. The number 12 is one of the most powerful symbols in the human race. The number 12 symbolizes the twelve months of the year, to which are attached twelve signs of the zodiac. I'm not talking about astrology; I'm talking about the zodiac. Just as the Tarot cards have fallen and their pure transcendent divine revelation has been profaned for purposes of fortune telling, so has the divine revelation of the zodiac, which is the pathway that Earth travels through as it goes around the Sun.
As we gaze into the stars, the Bible tells us that the heavens declare the glory of God, and the earth shows His handiwork. The stars tell a story--the story of God's redeeming plan. For more information you should seek out, "Bullinger's The Witness of the Stars." It will explain it all to you in great detail.
As it pertains to the Fool, the 12 starbursts represent the galaxies which God will create; the 12 signs of the zodiac; the 12 months of the year; the 12 hours in the day; the 12 tribes of Israel; the 12 apostles of Christ; and, the 12 gates on the holy city of Heaven. The number 12 symbolizes the totality of the manifest creation. All of the stars and all of the people and all of the hours in creation are embodied in this number 12. That is the cloak that the Fool is wearing. The Fool is covered and clothed inside of the physical universe.
He is carrying a backpack on which you will see the image of an eagle. Also, in his left hand he is carrying a rose. What do these symbolize? The starbursts on his robe symbolize fire animated--fire come to life. The potentialities of all that is symbolized by the fire, which we see physically in the Sun, are transformed and animated through the stars, seasons and human experience. The air around him becomes infused with life in the symbol of the eagle. The rose is animated water. The rose is often a symbol of love, devotion, romance, and the heart felt experiences. We take physical reality, and we water that rose. That water becomes alive, just as we have to water our romances.
At the feet of the Fool, we see the dog. The dog represents the animus, from which we get the words “animal” and “animation”--something that is alive. The dog standing on the ground symbolizes life--taking physical reality and infusing it with animation. We see that the dog is nipping at the heels of the Fool. Although the Fool stands on the crumbling precipice, he has no concern about falling. The dog is barking at him, not so much as a warning, but as a playful celebration.
So, using these symbols, what is this card telling us? The Fool is what is known as the vast countenance of God. The Kabbalists call this the Arik Anpin, the vast countenance of God. What was God doing before He created the universe? The first thing that the Bible tells us is that in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. But, that is in the beginning of the existence of the heaven and the earth. That is not the beginning of God, because the non-physical transcendence spiritual reality, which is God, has always existed and will always exist. That is one of the ineffable mysteries, the eternal non-temporal essence of God.
In the Bible, Moses asks to see God. God shows Him His backside because God says no one can see my front side and live. This is God without attributes. This is God before He has spoken to say, “Let there be light." He has the potential for all within Him, and He is clothed in that robe of infinite manifestation. He stands on the precipice; the precipice of creation. Every creation is, in fact, somewhat of a fall. If I sit at an easel with my oil paints, as long as I do not paint, the blank easel has infinite potential. But, as soon as the first drop of paint touches that canvass, the painting begins to fall from its infinite potential into a state of manifest reality. As I sit at a piano without playing, I have the potential of infinite expression, but the first note that I play drops from these lofty heights and begins to enter manifest reality.
That is what this card is all about--God, at that moment just before He created the world, flying so close to the Sun in the highest lofts of Heaven, symbolizing God transcendent beyond all physical manner, unlimited, uncaring. The precipice is about to collapse because in the next card we will see God with attributes. We will see God in His first moment of creation, as He begins to pour out all energies to create the universe. But, we are not there yet.
Here we see God just before He takes His fall from pure infinite potential into commitment, because creation is a commitment, whether it is a writing or a painting or a piece of music. It is a commitment to a particular action. It is a voluntary limiting of ourselves. In that respect, as God creates and delves into the creation, He voluntarily limits Himself.
Notice His expression as one of being carefree. This also contains a great revelation, because ultimately God's reality as pure infinite being remains unaffected by his "fall" into creation. What is there to harm Him? If the sum total of the universe were to disappear and to evaporate, the eternal transcendent reality of God would remain. This is one of the difficult lessons we must learn.
From our perspective, every single human action is of ultimate importance. We see great tragedy, great human suffering and much wrong as well as much joy, and much ecstasy, great human accomplishments and triumphs of the will. What we must learn, and what this card reminds us of, is non-attachment. Because ultimately, whether we succeed or fail, whether we are born or we die, it is all just part of the play.
The Fool as number zero stands outside of the rest of the game. This is God in His purest form. This is ourselves in our purest form inside of God. The Bible tells us that before the worlds were made, God knew us. That is astounding! That means that we partake in the reality of the Fool. That means that we are there with Him, and that whatever happens in our physical lives pales in insignificance to the true spiritual reality.
To summarize then, the Fool is infinite God before He creates. The Fool contains infinite potential. The Fool, as number zero, will add himself to us completely and unobtrusively. If we simply ask God to come along with us, He will do so and allow us to retain our own free will. But if we seek to become married to the divine Godhead, then we will find that our individual personality becomes lost and all that remains is God.
Paul says in the book of Galatians, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me." Paul, having spent so much time merging his life with God, seeking God, serving God, knowing God, found that he, Paul, as a separate being, had no reality at all. The only life he lived, he lived by the faith and the power of the son of God. This is the mystery and power of the number zero. If we just seek to add God to our already full lives, then our already full lives will remain completely unaffected by adding the number zero. If, however, we multiply ourselves and marry ourselves with God, then we will seek to exist. The idea of a court jester is also very important here. Throughout literature, the idea of the court Fool or the court jester has developed. Half of the time he spends being completely silly, stupid and absurd, and the other half of the time he’s telling the truth.
In Shakespeare's "King Lear", the only one who will tell the king what is really going on is the Fool. The Bible itself tells us that the wisdom of God is foolishness to this world, and we see that the story is complete. Within each of us, the Fool lives. The Fool is that spark, the highest reality of God before he was manifested into the universe, before he created the universe. And, that wisdom abides within us all. The pathways of the Fool are those stages we go through as we move from our normal mortal life into the marriage with God.
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