The Fool's Journey - the story the Tarot teaches us

If you’ve got even a passing interest in the Tarot, you’ll have heard the phrase ‘The Fool’s Journey’ mentioned. This is a tale told by the Tarot; an allegory for the trials and tribulations we all face and the lessons we can learn from our experiences and encounters. When all the 78 cards of a Tarot deck are laid out, the story follows a cyclical path, explaining how the Fool travels from ignorance and naivety to spiritual enlightenment. At the end of his journey, he arrives back where he started – but equipped with knowledge, wisdom and awareness. When cards are drawn in a reading, they highlight aspects of our own, spiritual journey that need attention. Let’s take a look at how the whole thing works.

The Major and Minor Arcana

The Fool is used to represent the seeker. It’s not a derogatory term, but one used to highlight how spiritually lacking we can be. There are 78 cards in the deck, but these are split into two groups: the Major and Minor Arcana. The cards of the Major Arcanum depict our journey through life as a whole, while the cards of the Minor Arcanum represent the energies at play in our daily lives. Using these, a reader can chart our spiritual evolution in the Grand Scheme of Things, as well as in relation to those occurrences that cross our paths on a more personal basis.

The cards are also divided into suits: the Wands, the Pentacles, the Swords and the Cups. These represent different aspects of our being - either those that we need to work on or those that we need to employ in order to resolve a situation.

● The Wands represent our careers, projects and the things that inspire us.

● The Pentacles represent the physical world we live in and material things, such as money and possessions.

● The Swords represent our intellect and way of thinking.

● The Cups represent our emotions, creativity and relationships. Each of these suits has an influence on how the message from a card is interpreted and how it affects the querent.

Let’s take a look at a general overview of the Fool’s Journey, using the cards of the Major Arcanum. Each of these is numbered from 0 to 21, making this group 22 strong.

The Major cards in the Tarot

1) The Fool. This represents the seeker in all his spiritual naivety. For him, the world is a place full of wonder and curiosity and he isn’t aware that he’s embarking on a spiritual journey. He acts without thinking about anyone but himself.

2) The Magician represents our abilities to make choices in the material world. It represents our abilities to interact with the physical landscape and, unlike the Fool, the Magician is aware that he can make choices, but that all our decisions have consequences.

3) The High Priestess represents our abilities for introspection and self-reflection. However, it also warns that we mustn’t become a slave to our musings and that thoughts without action are worthless.

4) The Empress is concerned with creation. Through her, we can see that nurturing ideas towards action is a creative act. She is the bridge between reflection and action.

5) The Emperor is concerned with practicality. Drawing the Emperor might highlight a need for self-discipline or order in the querent’s life, for the Emperor knows that chaos will only engender chaos. To get the best from yourself, there must be some order involved.

6) The Hierophant is representative of formal education. His presence reminds us that there are vast resources for knowledge in the physical world and we must hunt out answers for ourselves.

7) Although the Lovers are associated with romance and sex, they also remind us that we need to balance our emotions to make well-informed decisions.

8) The Chariot reminds us to try and see others’ points of view, rather than sticking blindly to our own. Understanding is a key part of spiritual development.

9) Strength. This card reminds us not to be a slave to our passions or impulses, but to master them and make them work for us.

10) Although the Hermit card appears a maudlin one, it simply reminds us that on occasion, it’s best to take yourself away from a situation and reflect on the role we play in it.

11) The Wheel of Fortune tells us to hang onto our focus and inner balance, even in the face of things that we apparently have no control over.

12) Justice. This card simply reminds us that we reap what we sow; however we behave along our journey will inform the things that happen to us further down the path.

13) The Hanged Man tends to be one of those cards that frightens people. However, its message is simply a reminder that, in some instances, the best thing you can do is ‘let go’ and observe events as they unfold.

14) Death. The one that people dread. However, it actually signifies the death of an old habit or way of thinking, as part of the process of transformation.

15) Temperance. Once we’ve been through the transformation highlighted by the Death card, Temperance reminds us that it’s time to pull our horns in and strive for a new balance.

16) The Devil. Another scary one – but only if you don’t understand it. This card reminds us that excess on any level can prevent us from moving forward. The chains that hold us back are often self-imposed.

17) While the Tower looks foreboding, it reminds us that destruction of old ideas is often the best way to move forward.

18) The Star reminds us that there is always hope. No matter how far we feel we have fallen, there is always something to cling on to.

19) The Moon throws its light on things that are shrouded in darkness, allowing us to see them for what they are. This card tells us that we should question everything we encounter, to perceive its true nature.

20) The Sun represents a period of spiritual contentment; we know our limitations and are happy with them.

21) The Judgment card represents our capacity to delve deeper within ourselves and learn new things. It also suggests that sharing our new-found knowledge can be beneficial.

22) The World. This card shows us at our best; we are balanced, open and wise. However, it also reminds us that there is always room for improvement and we can undertake a continuing quest to reach our full potential as human beings.


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