The Fool – From Zero to Hero

November 19, 2008 § 2 Comments

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In most tarot decks, the Fool is numbered zero. In the Reader’s Handbook, Rachel Pollack writes:

“Of all the symbolism in the Fool card, the most important is the number 0. Zero means nothing or no thing – no fixed category or rigid belief, no rule, no preconception, no boundaries and no role. We write zero as an egg shape, to signify that all things come from it. The Hindus wrote zero as a point, the nothingness out of which all things emerge into reality. Zero, the Fool, means the perfect beginning of any phase or activity, the moment when everything is possible.”

If you multiply any number by zero, the number is unchanged. The same goes for if you add or subtract any number from zero. Zero has zero effect. So is zero – and therefore the Fool – merely passive? Is he just an observer of life, a blank slate, a sponge?

Perhaps. The Fool is too young and too inexperienced to be discerning – to judge before acting. His reaction to anything he encounters is both raw and unchecked. Perhaps this is why the expression on the face of Haindl’s Fool is so difficult to read. Is it sadness, wonder, joy? Or is it just an expression of observation? The world is full of beauty and cruelty and the Fool experiences both with the same detached curiosity. Later, he will learn to tell good from bad but for now, as the Fool, he merely bears witness. He soaks up everything he sees and stores it for future use.

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