“If a man would persist in his folly, he would become wise” – William Blake
Some people love the Fool and some people hate him. Let’s face it; he is a bit scary walking on the edge like that, so sure of himself and so blissfully happy. Very often you’ll see keywords for the Fool such as innocence and naïveté, but this does not mean stupid or shallow.
“We often erroneously think that the “deep” people are the ones who brood. The darker the movie, the less redemptive the ending, the more artistic people think it is. The more messed up the painter or the musician’s life, the more creative we assume they were. But this is not true. It requires an incredible amount of depth to be positive and hopeful in the midst of adversity. In truth, negative emotions stem from the most primitive part of the brain that responds to fear and threat. Seeing the negative is easy; formulating a cognitive strategy about how to positively respond to challenge requires much higher-order functioning in the brain.”
– Shawn Achor“Are Happy People Dumb?” Harvard Business Review, March 22, 2011
As we've said before, the Fool can be seen as taking a leap of faith, being so certain that you are on the right path that you don’t need to look at the ground beneath your feet. You may not have a lot of experience. That can be an advantage or a disadvantage. The disadvantage in that maybe with more knowledge and experience, you could make more informed decisions. It is an advantage because lacking experience and knowledge, you are not concerned with what cannot be done. So many impossible things are done by people who don’t know any better.
The Fool trusts his instinct, but we think it goes deeper than instinct, it’s more like intuition. Traditionally, in the Rider Waite Smith Deck, the little white dog represents that animal instinct that may keep you from falling off the edge, more like that primitive part of our brains that Shawn Achor is talking about. We are taking a twist on this in our card with an animal that has been a frequent character in our paintings, the raven.
There is also an added layer of symbolism with the raven. It represents, in many cultures, a guide and messenger of the gods, sometimes in a positive way and sometimes negative.
In Norse mythology, Odin depends on his two ravens, Huginn (thought) and Muninn (memory or mind) to help guide him. Each day he sends them out into the world to observe what is happening and question everybody, even the dead. At the end of the day they report back to him. Since they embody Odin’s mind and thoughts, they symbolize his ability to see into the future, which is really the higher order brain function of formulating a cognitive strategy about how to positively respond to challenge.
In some Native American mythology Raven is both a creator and a trickster, hero and villain. His is the potential for creation and destruction, for order and anarchy. The Fool has the capacity to be both hero and villain as well. He walks the border between the chaotic world of the unconscious and the ordered world of consciousness. Without listening to his inner council, he could step in the wrong direction.
“Excluded from consciousness he can play jokes on us which, although “practical”, are difficult to appreciate. Accepted in our inner council, the Fool can offer us fresh ideas and new energy.” Sallie Nichols - Jung and Tarot: An Archetypal Journey
However, as uncomfortable as it is to be tricked, a lesson is learned, another way of looking at the world is revealed, experience and knowledge on the journey is earned.
And we leave you this month with a beautiful and magical piece of music from Icelandic musicians Sigur Ros - Odin's Raven Magic: