Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Major Arcana- The Fool, The Magician And The High Priestess

This is based somewhat loosely on the Fool's Journey, which tells a story of the Major Arcana cards- the Fool is on a journey, each Major Arcana card representing a different lesson or experience the Fool has during his life, leading ultimately up to The World, the final Major card signifying fullness, completion and coming full circle. However, as I read this, I noticed there were other ways to divide the Majors. In the Fool's Journey, and most explanations offered of the Majors, the Fool, numbered 0 in the deck, stands separate, being considered an un-numbered card. Here's another way to view it- each set of three cards, including the Fool, represents a set of lessons or experiences in life, leading ultimately up again to the World, which here represents kind of a new version of the Fool. At the start of the story, the Fool is inexperienced, and has yet to experience all these things. At the end, The World comes full circle, representing the Fool with all his accumulated wisdom and experience, ready to move on to the next step of the journey.
So to consider the first three cards-


First up we have the Fool, which is numbered 0.The Fool represents potential, starting out, and new beginnings. What will come to exist as reality now exists in the Fool as potential; he is untried, starting out on a journey. Though not completely starting from scratch, as indicated here by the chest at his feet, and his companions, the Fool has much to learn, and as time goes on will develop and learn these things. The figures with the Fool, often a dog or animal of some kind, represent the fact that the Fool has some knowledge, as well as his own innate reasoning and rationality. The Magician represents manipulation of the physical world with all its possibilities. He is the deliberate manipulator, often shown with all the suits of the deck close by, representing his ability to use all the different aspects of life to create and to shape his world. The Fool's lesson here is that he too can effect change in his world- he is not entirely subject to the whims of chance, and can construct his own future through his will and actions- though of course he is confined, as is the Magician, by natural laws, and the law of cause and effect. However, here the Fool finds his personal power- that he can be a deliberate and conscious force in his own world. The Magician bears the symbol of the lemniscate over his head (the sideways figure 8, indicating eternity) which tells of the flowing nature of energy- it is always in motion, and all the Magician has to do is learn to direct that flow.
Now, on to the High Priestess- in many ways the opposite of the Magician, she represents the instinctual and innate knowledge of the world the Fool has. Whereas the Magician is calculating, logical and rational, the High Priestess operates on instinct and her heart rather than her head. Often she is shown seated, instead of the standing posture of the Magician, indicating that her knowledge is passive rather than active. However, she provides the other half of the equation to the Fool- that your heart as well as your intellect can guide you- sometimes you can rely on instinct. Whereas the Magician represents the active principle, the High Priestess represents a more passive energy- not so much reasoning out a decision, as simply waiting to hear what your inner voice tells you. It's a question of listening to your heart rather than trying to figure out where that certainty from your heart comes from. The two pillars represent two possibilities- at the juncture of a decision, where two paths are revealed, it's sometimes necessary to sit and simply remain calm, waiting for your own inner voice to point the way. Since she is a being of the heart rather than the head, it's also a message of staying true to that inner voice and inner desire. When you find yourself at a crossroads, remember what brought you to that point in the first place, and listen to what that desire is telling you.
So here we see that the Fool represents first and foremost potential; what could be. As he chooses his course, first he incorporates his rational, thinking mind. Then he couples that with his heart, what he most desires, to make his decisions in accordance with what he truly wants. The High Priestess reflects his heart's wish, while the Magician reflects practical means to achieve that wish. And both of these lessons will remain with the Fool as he moves throughout the rest of his journey.

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