Life in this world contains within in it the possibility of Awakening. The way of The Fool, for whom the art of life is unfamiliar, leads to oblivion. The Fool represents humanity: Humanity that is in a state of slumber, without awareness and without any understanding. The Fool lacks any awareness as to what happened to him, his dream is the imagination and the identification, in which he is immersed for his entire life. He represents the man who cannot act, has no willpower and is ruled by the law of chance. For his whole life, The Fool tries to escape from coping with life, with hardships, with friction and with suffering, all of which are symbolized by the dog. Instead of coping with life and its hardships, The Fool is constantly preoccupied with escaping them. He calls this escape “freedom,” and that is the way he imagines himself, as a free man.
But in reality, he cannot escape from life and suffering, and all he can do is to dream of escaping. The Fool’s escape or lack of coping with life keeps him further and further away from his path, towards the inevitable; towards the fall off the cliff. The flower in his left hand represents the past, and his dreamy gaze forward represents the future.
Indeed The Fool constantly finds himself in the past and the future, but never in the here and now at present. He dreams about his future and submerged in his past, which is a state of sleep, he cannot see that his escape from life led him to the end of the road, and on his next step, he will fall. The Fool carries a bag, which contains the 4 elements: Pentacles, Wands, Cups, and Swords, which symbolize the 4 energy centers. The Fool knows nothing about his existence, he does not understand and does not know their powers and their secrets.
In various decks, one may see at the bottom of the abyss an image of a crocodile with an open mouth waiting for The Fool. The Fool will be devoured by the crocodile if he doesn’t open his eyes and see the abyss ahead of him. The crocodile is from Egyptian mythology, who is the creature/demon/god named Ammut whose head is of a crocodile, his upper body is a lion or a cheetah and lower body of a hippopotamus.
Ammut resides in the Hall of Justice, where the departed come with the guidance of Anubis to be judged. On a pair of scales, the departed’s heart was weighed against a feather, and if the heart of the departed were heavier than the feather, it was a sign of a sinful heart. In that case, the departed was unworthy of residing in the Hall and was devoured by Ammut.
The Magician and The High Priestess
The Magician reveals to The Fool the contents of his bag, which is the Pentacle, the Wand, the Sword and the Cup, the four functions of man: The instinctive, the moving, the intellectual and the emotional. The knowledge that the Magician reveals to The Fool creates a certain center that strives to reach spiritual development. The Magician symbolizes the “first force,” the active force that initiates the beginning and The Fool does indeed embark on a different path. If he previously walked on paths that were not meant for him and turned everywhere his passions led him, now he’s trying to create his own path.
But the next card The Fool reaches represents the “denying force” that automatically opposes any active force. Thus, The Fool’s path gets blocked from the very start. We are of course talking about “The High Priestess” card that sits on an entrance between two pillars and does not let The Fool pass between those pillars. The High Priestess allows passing only if the person acquired an understanding of what is written on the scroll that she’s holding. She grants additional knowledge to the one given by The Magician, but without the understanding of this knowledge, one cannot proceed.
To gain understanding, a man needs two components: knowledge and being. The first component is the knowledge, which The Fool acquired from the Magician along with the knowledge The High Priestess now grants him. The second component – the being, is our ability to apply the knowledge. If the ability exists the person is able to have an experience and apply his knowledge. Together, knowledge and being creating man’s understanding.
The pillars represent the two Pillars of Solomon, which King Solomon placed at the entrance to the Temple and called one “Yachin” and the other “Boaz.” They symbolize the knowledge and the being which create the understanding. Without this understanding, a man cannot understand what is written on the scroll held by The High Priestess and cannot enter the Temple.
On her head is a strange crown which is reminiscent of the crown of the Egyptian goddess “Isis,” which symbolizes the merging of the Moon and the Sun. The merged Moon and the Sun signify the same thing which the hexagram on her chest signifies. Both of them show that combining knowledge with being create understanding.