0. The Fool

The number 0: the shape of your eyes wide open. A heart full of optimism and some moments of the Oh No! Like a first year art student possessed by limitless potential.

The circle of the number 0 symbolising everything: which includes nothing.

The Fool is art expressed in the moment, emotively raw, trusting and naive. He {symbolic gender} values style over substance. Revelling in what he likes and simply enjoying life itself. Unintentionally inspiring others with his fierce eagerness.

Journal Prompts

Laughing away any obstacles, resistances, expectations, shame or judgements…

If you cared nothing of your past or future…

What would you create right now in this moment?

Self Portrait Challenge

Yourself purely in the moment. What would this feeling look like?

Or yourself at a time in your life when you felt invincible, on fire and ready to leap head first into the world!

My Selfie ☆ミ

January 2019

Invoking the Fool sounds delightful right?

It’s January 2019. The middle of an Australian summer. Maybe you’re expecting a sun-freckled 1970s love child frolicking in a flamboyant sun dresses. Flared sleeves flowing like menstruation on a full moon.

Well, apparently not.

Sure, the Fool’s potential is a potent electric charge of inspiration. Unrestrained like a Pikachu too cute to contain in a Pokéball.

…Or it can be an overwhelming stretch of endless opportunities and vast boredom. Mixed with the searing heat waves, this was a recipe for melting my brain. Zombie slurpee.

I tired to perfect some routines and systems to ground this aimless levity I’d invoked. I became obsessed with ‘how’ to do the thing. To crystallise the perfect human processor. What’s the most efficient and productive series of movements to transition from point A (lazy arse, sleep bleary eyed humanoid) to point B (clean, fed and appropriately installed at my art desk).

Needless to say, this was a game of dodgeball of the immensity of the Fool’s elastic-stretchy horizon. A irrational fear that poking one toe onto that horizon might trigger the rubber-band to snap back; and if you have older brothers, you probably know what I’m talking about. All this dodging is just an escapist game waiting for your energy to run empty – instead of embracing living with the Fool – enjoying and joining in with the moment.

“The head can guide but the body does the work” ~ Aidan Wachter from Gut and Bone

Well…

Then a freak summer storm ripped off my skylight from my roof – leaving no time to ponder or perfect the process! Moving my bedroom contents to another room in a wild, blind flurry – as of course the power went out – well, it did feel like a fresh restart button. Launching the mad excitement of the Fool’s empowerment.

In a guided meditation, the Fool whispered “Enjoy the process”. So simple.

When the potential of all the different things I ‘could’ do becomes overwhelming …I see this as focusing on the outcome. Obsessing over where I’ll end up, but not actually moving anywhere in the process. Paralysed by all the choices with impending futures. But if I pop a chill pill, I enjoy the journey and simply let the artwork show me what it wants to become.

Invoking the Fool tapped into being inspired and stretching open to the possibilities and opportunities. On a good day, the Fool lets strategies of the past and future, pass by on the breeze and with a deep breath. Enjoy the taste of the moment with a mouthful of oxygen.

My Selfie #2 ☆ミ

October 2019

This year I tried my hand at Inktober for the first time. I wanted to explore the Fool’s Journey through the Marseille deck, which has the Justice at card 8 and Strength at card 11. In these daily ink-selfies, I got as far as card 8 in the Marseille Deck, then as far as card 15 in the Rider-Waite.

Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot

In the Smith-Waite tarot deck, I see the Fool as a personification of: gaiety, optimism, potential and the pure joy of being alive.

But after a little too much of a good thing… well, this levity can skew into: carelessness, naivety and negligence. When one isn’t aware of their surroundings or the consequences of their actions.

If you’re trying to find and follow your true desire, you do need a little self absorption, if you’re going to listen and know yourself. So the folly of the Fool is not a one size fits all t-shirt.

Sometimes it’s easier to embrace your inner Fool by exaggerating the feeling and your expression. A fake it til your make it. But ☞ déjà vu ☞ too much exaggeration and you’ve turned yourself into a performance. Putting things on for a show. At the end of the day here, you’re only fooling yourself.

The Smith-Waite Fool sees potential in the horizon and basks in that silver lining. There is a clean, fresh simplicity to this hope and the self-belief generated from this positivity. A cynic might scoff at this simplistic optimism. But the Fool’s wide eyes are shameless and unapologetic. This bright outlook is a magnet and attracts others around him towards his vision. Onlookers wanting a piece of this sunshine.

In the Smith-Waite card, this theatricality – under bad lighting – can come off as an airhead. Depending on the role and narrative you’re playing to, an airhead could be advantageous, to shrug off other people’s baggage.

CBD Tarot de Marseille

The CBD Tarot de Marseille weaves similar threads to the Smith-Waite, through it’s depiction of the Fool as a Court Jester. Although, this 18th century Le Mat (French for The Fool), appears more grounded then the 20th century Fool.

There is a sense that the body is disconnected from the head. The head looks to the horizon and the body, rather then prancing, looks to be compelled physically to set off on a journey. Neither optimistic nor pessimistic, simply obliging the unconscious impulse to follow his footsteps. Whether it be an inspired expedition, or, as Yoav Ben-Dov mentions in The Marseille Tarot Revealed, he might just be walking in a circle, pivoting around his red staff.

A Pink Elephant

The pink elephant in the room is the little creature (a cat? a dog? a mythical mix?) fondling the Fool’s genitals. This might sound like some bestiality action, but I don’t see an aroused or erotic vibe in the card. Instead, the little creature just looks curious. I found scurrying after this white rabbit 🐇 was a freefall through a mixed bag of symbolism.

The creature’s curiosity as: Play

Here the Fool’s sexuality is coming from a place of amusement and light hearted interest. A neutral curiosity that may be more interested in the novelty and game of sex, then engaging an emotional investment into making babies. It’s not to say the Fool’s curiosity wont lead him to love and creating a family. But the attitude is of fun and games – an adventurer.

The Wands: Sexuality, Creativity, Spirituality

Where the head is the Swords, the heart is the Cups, and the feet are the Pentacles/Coins… the Wands are the pelvis – where this creature’s rapt attention is invested.

Symbolically, the Wands are a Venn diagram of Sexuality, Creativity and Spirituality. The creature’s curiosity in the Fool’s sex – could represent our innate impulse to create. The burning desire and yearning in your spirit.

Sexuality is a symbol of creativity – in that a Fire (the Wands’ element) desires to be something more. To pro-create.

Of all the elements, Fire reaches upwards. An all-consuming passion that seeks to transcends. The ‘spirit’ you feed into life is your energy, your drive, your motivation. Your Spirituality is what inspires your spirit?

Your curiosity, your passion, what turns you on – all inspires your creativity.

Starting my Inktober, I didn’t have the 1970s frolicking sundress vibe of the Smith-Waite Fool. But I did feel compelled to jump on the band wagon of the Instgram inkers.

In my usual drawing-practice of graphite on black paper, I had got myself tangled in a mindset that I must only draw in this medium, for people to see, recognise and understand my art. I don’t recall the catalyst, but I recently realised that it was a load of bull. If a creative is afraid to be creative – what hope is there?

I also realised I was judging my effectiveness as an artist to the coherency of my work. This self-judgment was not helping me grow and expand, but rather – I’d contract, reign in and restrict my work. Playing to a small and predictable tune. The antidote would be just trusting your creativity will take you somewhere creative. 😅.

Pondering what truly motivated me to create art, I kept coming back to the sensation of being inspired. That uplifting giddiness, or that mind bending moment when the universe seems to pivot on it’s axis. It’s not really a one-thing I can describe, but it’s like an expression of realising there’s more to you and ‘this’ then what you thought. I guess it’s a realisation or awareness of potential.

Naturally this lead me to ask what other archetypes emulate and embody this inspiration?

The Muse

I had an idea that the Greco-Roman muses danced and frolicked like the Smith-Waite Fool, as personifications of inspiration, in their movements. Where the Marseille Fool isn’t particularly skipping a dainty prance – he does appear compelled to follow an insistent pull. As if a muse were beckoning him just outside the card.

For both Fools, they carry light luggage, and personally I find this is the quickest way to access the Fool’s energy. After a spring clean or a thorough culling through my possessions – I always feel free and uninhibited. Of course the process of letting some things go can be challenging. This is an expression of the World card before she turns full circle back into the Fool. A letting go of what has served you and its purpose, so you can be free to explore the Fool’s new territory.

But baggage is not only the physical stuff.

It can be the emotional or the mental. These are self limiting beliefs, self doubts and fears. Some of this baggage might be be packed up tight, to protect you. Especially where you might not be ready to bring some things into the light. Stepping into the Fool involves looking into your own baggage and deciding what you want to take with you.

Walking with a light luggage, is walking (or frolicking) without the anchors or excuses.

Admittedly, I had confused the 3 Graces with the idea of the Muse. There are actually 9 Muses in Greek and Roman mythology, with specific associations and areas of expertise. The focus in this drawing was more a dancing-expression of inspiration.

Although I did reference my dress from a photo I’d modelled for a friend’s art project – ephemerally flailing about in an inflatable kids pool, dressed in flowing pink and with dribbles of milk swirling like smoke in the water… The end drawing doesn’t actually resemble me at all – lol. But then, none of the following self portraits are recognisably me.

What did surprise me was her symbolic alchemic allegory. Her hands pulling the shadows from the left of the page, the subconscious… into the light, the right side, and consciousness. Like a dance in shadow work.

I’m still exploring what it means to embody an archetype of the Muse. I do like the concept of dancing being less the mind thinking it knows, and more the body simply embodying the energy. A thought train to be continue on a rainy day.

Image Credits

The Fool – Tarot card:

Illustrations from the Borderless Smith Waite Tarot Deck reproduced by permission of U.S. Games Systems, Inc., Stamford, CT 06902. c. by U.S. Games Systems, Inc. All rights reserved. The Smith-Waite Tarot deck is a registered trademark of U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

CBD Tarot de Marseille
Based on: Nicholas Conver 1760 deck
Restoration: Yoav Ben-Dov, 2010
Lines copied from the original: (ink nib, illustrator) Leela Ganin
Scanned, cleaned, titled, coloured: (graphic designer) Nir Matarasso
Reshaped, revised: Yoav Ben-Dov
Published: 2011, 2017 U.S. Games Inc

Photographs & drawings by Alice in Tarotland

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