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The Meaning of
"The Fool" Tarot Card

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What is the inverted meaning of
"The Fool"?

The Meaning of "The Fool"
Tarot Card

The Symbolism of The Fool

One of the most well-known cards in the tarot deck, The Fool is the first card of the Major Arcana. Numbered zero, the card is sometimes said lie outside the main sequence of Major Arcana cards, with the actual first card being number 1, The Magician.

On the card we see a well-dressed young man, setting off on a long journey — his belongings on his shoulder, dreaming of adventures ahead. His tunic is covered in a floral pattern representing carefree joy.

Lost in his dreams, the young man doesn't seem to notice the cliff-edge approaching in front of him.

Lost in his dreams, the young man doesn't seem to notice the cliff-edge approaching in front of him. A small dog barks at his heels, perhaps trying to warn him of his impending doom.

The young man holds a single white rose in his left hand — symbolizing innocence and perhaps naivete. His right arm holds his pack, hanging from the edge of a long pole — or is it a wand? His bag bears the image of an eagle's head, symbolizing his ambitions to soar to great heights.

A stark landscape rises in the background, but the skies are sunny and bright.

NOTE: Observant tarot readers will note that the The Fool borrows heavily from the Suit of Wands. Many of the visual elements from the Wands cards are here if one looks closely: The strong reference to the element of Fire in the sleeves of his tunic; The wand on his shoulder used to carry his belongings; The desert-rock beneath the young man's feet — All these elements are direct references to the Suit of Wands cards. The message here is clear: The young man is living in the world of ideas, and ignoring the world around him.

NOTE: The white rose held by the young man in The Fool card is generally believed to symbolize purity and naiveté. Another interesting appearance of a white rose in the Major Arcana however, is on the Death card. This mirroring is intentional and sets an ominous reminder of the young man's potential fate should he wander over the cliff-edge.

How to Interpret The Fool

The Fool is a card of infinite optimism, new beginnings and potential energy. The thrill of promise and possibility is everywhere.

The Fool card often points to the beginning of an adventure and the idealistic hopes and dreams that come with it.

The Fool card often points to the beginning of an adventure and the idealistic hopes and dreams that come with it. We all know what it's like to dream big when making plans for the future; Thoughts and ideas often leave realistic potential far behind.

When the Fool card shows up in a reading it speaks to freedom of spirit, and a carefree attitude. Responsibility, careful planning and even logic may temporarily take a back seat to the pursuit of dreams and new ideas.

The card may also point to a younger person known to the reader, or someone less experienced; Someone who exhibits qualities of idealism, inexperience and possibly naiveté.

There are times when it's important to throw caution to the wind; To live for the moment, to take chances and to embrace excitement. All of us live through many of those moments; Without them life would be quite boring. The Fool points to a time when dreams and ideas take center-stage, and the burdens of reality are temporarily pushed to the side. We all have an inner child that needs to dream, wander and play now and again.

The Fool card also carries a very real warning however: The naive pursuit of dreams without forethought or caution can very easily carry one over the edge of a cliff. Live for this moment, but don't forget to look where you're going.

The Fool Inverted

There are several possible meanings to the The Fool reversed. They are mostly somewhat negative aspects to the upright position.

In most cases the inverted Fool card points to a critical level of inexperience and naiveté.

In most cases the inverted Fool card points to a critical level of inexperience and naiveté. Someone who lacks experience may be endangering a greater project or goal, or may have done so in the past.

Another possible meaning to The Fool card in its reversed position is that someone's negativity or lack of optimism may be impacting progress or having a negative effect people around them. Perhaps someone is being overly critical, which may be stifling creativity or threatening a greater goal.

In other cases, the appearance of the inverted Fool card may indicate someone who fears new things and has difficulty embracing new ideas. Sometimes it's necessary to suspend criticism and allow new ideas to breathe and grow.

Common Symbols Found On the Fool Card

Tarot cards often use a a symbolic language to visually communicate hints about how the card should be interpreted. The Fool makes use of at least three common, repeating Tarot symbols. Each of these symbols can add greater layers of meaning to the card.

The symbols which appear on the Fool card are:

  • Roses

    Roses symbolism appears on the Fool card:

    Roses are among of the most important symbols in the iconic Rider-Waite Tarot deck. What can sometimes several different types of roses depicted on different cards. Each of these different types can carry a different meaning.

    NOTE: The white rose held aloft by the Fool is a symbol of purity and innocence. Interestingly, it is also a mirror of the white rose which appears on the Death card. This mirroring between the Fool and Death serves as a reminder that both the cliff edge, and the young man's potential demise, loom before him.

    Read more about the symbolism of "Roses" in Tarot  

  • Mountains

    Mountains symbolism appears on the Fool card:

    Mountains are some of the most ubiquitous symbols depicted in the Tarot. In general terms, Mountains represent trials which need to be passed, and hardships which need to be overcome. Depending on the Tarot card where mountains appear, these hardships may either reference future issues which lie in wait along the current path, or they may represent past trials and contests which have already been completed before arriving at the current state of things.

    NOTE: The youth appearing on The Fool card of the Major Arcana is surrounded by looming mountains, which represent not only challenges but his potential doom. The daydreaming youth is completely oblivious of the challenges and looming dangers before him — and is lost in his own thoughts and emotions.

    Read more about the symbolism of "Mountains" in Tarot  

  • The Red Feather

    The red feather symbolism appears on the Fool card:

    The prominent red feather symbol is among the most frequently discussed elements on the classic Rider-Waite Tarot cards. Part of what makes the red feather so interesting are the ultra-important Major Arcana cards upon which it appears: The Fool, Death, and The Sun. The symbol is centrally displayed on all three cards, and therefore would seem to be core to the interpretation of all three. The red feather also makes an appearance in the Minor Arcana — tucked into the hat of the Page of Wands.

    Read more about the symbolism of "The Red Feather" in Tarot  

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