the fool's journey

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The Fool's Journey is the "big story" in the tarot -- a metaphor for our own journeys through life. The story takes place in the Major Arcana, and follows The Fool (the "zero" card) as he navigates his way through life. Each tarot card represents another aspect of the journey, and The Fool proceeds through each card's experience until he reaches The World (XXI), the last card in the Major Arcana. 

There are many different interpretations of this metaphor, and there are a ton of resources about the Fool's Journey out there -- but the basic story is as follows:

  • 0 The Fool: we each begin our lives; innocent, spontaneous, we don't know what we don't know

  • I The Magician and II The High Priestess: we encounter the balancing forces of our world -- active conscious awareness and power, and inner unconscious mystery and potential

  • III The Empress and IV The Emperor: we encounter two central archetypes -- the Mother (nurturing abundance) and the Father (structured authority)

  • V The Hierophant: we venture into the wider world and discover belief systems, education, societal conventions

  • VI The Lovers: we discover our need for relationship and sexual union

  • VII The Chariot: we develop mastery over ourselves, self-control and willpower

  • VIII Strength: we encounter challenges and develop the courage and resolve to meet them

  • IX The Hermit: we realize the need for a deeper truth, and begin to look within for answers

  • X Wheel of Fortune: we recognize how everything is connected, and see the actions of fate and destiny

  • XI Justice: we see the cause and effect of our actions, and learn to take responsibility for ourselves

  • XII The Hanged Man: we encounter situations so difficult that we feel turned upside down; we have no recourse but to surrender 

  • XIII Death: we experience endings and transition; we eliminate old habits and behaviors that aren't working anymore

  • XIV Temperance: we discover that a balanced approach to life is the most healthy

  • XV The Devil: we realize that our own ignorance, compulsions, and addictions are enslaving us

  • XVI The Tower: we experience a painful shake-up, but we are rewarded with new revelations

  • XVII The Star and XVIII The Moon: we feel hope and inspiration for the future, but we are also vulnerable to illusion, distortion and lack of clarity

  • XIX The Sun: we experience ourselves as confident and vital; we have found enlightenment 

  • XX Judgment: we absolve ourselves and others, we discover a higher calling, we are reborn

  • XXI The World: we have integrated all parts of ourselves, we feel fulfilled and whole

The Fool's Journey is not a one-time, one-stop trip -- we travel back and forth on this path throughout our lives, repeating and revisiting as our lives dictate.

The Fool's Journey in The SPIRICAL Tarot is slightly different, and told from a psychological and trauma-informed viewpoint; see "More About The SPIRICAL Tarot" to find more details.