A youth in a brightly embroidered tunic is out to see the world with his personal goods tied within a pack hanging off the staff he has balanced on his right shoulder. In his left hand he holds a white rose daintily. His small cap has a large feather bobbing behind him. The pack has an eagle’s head upon the face of it. The sun shines brightly behind him as he strides forward, looking up into the cloudless sky. His point of view blinds him to the cliff edge he is one step away from falling off of. A small dog is at his heels, apparently trying in vain to grasp the youth’s attention. The mountains in the distance are blanketed with snow.
The Fool means well (he always means well), but his heart is in the wrong place. Naiveté and innocence allows the Fool to go where angels fear to tread, and even buffers him from the horrors found there for a while. He is often described as “childlike”, but after the children I’ve seen (and been), the term “without guile” works far better. The Fool has never seen maliciousness, and doesn’t understand why someone would work against a fellow human being.
In some decks, the Fool is the start of the ordered cards. Other decks place the Fool between Judgement and the World, and some others place the Fool after the World. I place the Fool at the start of an ordered deck, because the card represents the moment when the Fool realizes she is a fool. She knows that she doesn’t know, and starts to ask the questions that will destroy her innocence but secure her future.
Ill-dignified, the Fool loses the protection of innocence. No longer unknowing by happenstance, the ill-dignified Fool is ignorant by choice. He has been given opportunities to learn something new, but refuses to change his understanding of the world. Recalcitrant and disdainful of those wiser than him, he seeks to destroy any evidence that would reveal him to be a fool so that he can remain in what he calls comfort.