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The Wise Fool

by Stephen Stevie Cole about a year ago in Culture · updated about a year ago
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Queer Tarot, pt 1

This is the first in a series of blogs looking at the cards in the Tarot from a queer perspective - a word I apply to myself and others with a sense of pride, and not of shame - to add some teaching content into a LGBTQIA+ Tarot group I started running a little while ago.

For those of you who are new to the whole idea:

Tarot is a set of images on a deck of cards to use for meditation and divination - the seeking of higher insight. Whether traditional playing cards came from the Tarot, or Tarot from playing cards, is a question without a satisfying answer yet. The Tarot images first appeared in Europe around the same time Romani Travellers did, and seem similar to writings on the Qabalah, but beyond that, no one's quite sure where, when or why it began. But it's fashionable now because, among other reasons, it offers a route to spirituality without belonging to any religion.

The Major Arcana set of cards within the Tarot depict a journey - whether it's an inner or an outer journey depends entirely on who's reading the cards - and the first (or the last card) in the set is The Fool; the one who's taking the journey. They're the Joker in a standard deck of cards - a card that has no value but can take on the value of any other. The number of the Fool's card is Zero - the circle. Our standard modern image of them was designed by biracial, bisexual artist Pamela "Pixie" Colman Smith. This Fool is definitely androgynous - purposely gender neutral to represent everyone.

I asked a number of people who identify as LGBTQIA+ what they saw in the Fool when they read the cards. What's written here is based on their answers.

The Fool is a neutral energy card, the state before incarnation and so a state without gender or identity. The beginnings of our journeys when everything is in question. The discovery stage when we start finding words to explain what we feel inside. Questioning everything we were taught. Coming to terms with our gender, our sexuality, or our closet, and being our true selves. We can see it as a 'coming out' card (whether to ourselves or others) - we're about to take a leap of faith into an entirely new world. If the Fool comes up in transition, it can be a sign that it's okay to dive headfirst into that new journey, even though we don’t know what's on the other side. The Fool represents the joy of accepting ourselves fully without care. The joy of celebrating our uniqueness without trappings or constraints. The innocent love of self. This self love of ours can feel like a threat to others who don't understand. But the Fool is not looking for others' approval. The Fool represents being able to fully accept ourselves and not caring what others might think or say about us. It’s about self acceptance and spontaneity in order to live our lives the way we want to live it. Permission to be ourselves and fuck the haters. The Fool's number is zero, which means we have nowhere to go, but up.

Shakespearean Fools are always the smartest characters. Shakespeare - everyone's favourite bisexual writer of cross-dressing comedies, pretty much perfected the Fool character type - and Touchstone said it best: "The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool".

Those of us that were scared of coming out and being truly ourselves when were young can take it as a message to allow ourselves to enjoy "childish" things. Allowing ourselves to go buy that outfit that we wanted as little queer kids, go and colour, finger paint, and just allow ourselves to let go a little bit. We can be so worried about what others think that we forget to enjoy life. We're here to fulfill our highest good, not appease any society.

How we can take that into our transgender, bisexual, demisexual, queer or nonbinary nature is that the Fool is the egg not yet hatched fully, the caterpillar learning about where butterflies come from. The Fool is just starting the exploration, realization and jubilation of what we are to be. The time of transition - figuratively or literally - for many of us, lies ahead, with all its blessings and curses. We start the journey of transformation as we learn our own truths. The significant journey that the fool undertakes is both the same and different for everyone; a new journey of self discovery, coming out, re-investigating a new aspect of ourselves that was brainwashed into cis-hetero-normative and patterns across our lifetimes. It's always a big journey to start on and there are always new parts of it to discover.

Those aspects of ourselves are super important, lest we forget the inherent value in ourselves and create an atmosphere of worrying if we're "queer enough" for the journey ahead.

As the Fool is the first card, "The World" is the final card; the dancer in The World is the same figure as the Fool, yet has visibly different gender characteristics; is more at peace with the world around them and able to walk their own path harmoniously due to having undergone a significant transformation of self.

Let's challenge ourselves. Take ourselves out of our comfort zones. Be butterflies.

Whatever social media you used to read this, feel free to contact me through it if you'd like a reading that uses the cards to bring out these kinds of perspectives. Or, join in my LGBTQIA+ Tarot facebook group at the link below, where questions and answers like the ones that gave me the content for this piece are freely exchanged all the time.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/959722214875625

Culture

About the author

Stephen Stevie Cole

Genderfluid

Socialist

Actor/actress

Tarot reader

Attracted to magic both practical & impractical

Writer of short stories and philosophical musings

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