Tarot is a story of The Fool's Journey - which is a metaphor for the journey through life. Each Major Arcana card plays a part in this journey and symbolizes a lesson or experience that one must acknowledge and incorporate into their experience in order to realize their wholeness.
The journey starts with The Fool (0) he is only a fool because he has yet to gain the experience of life through the journey he is about to embark upon. He is spirited, ready and willing to take on all that life has to offer. He is unaware of the hardships or pain he may face on this journey, so his decisions are unhindered and innocent.
Immediately upon beginning his journey, perhaps not even in a physical sense as yet - The Fool encounters The Magician (1) the embodiment of communication & intellect, The Magician represents the energies of the universe through conscious awareness. A guide who teaches us that the mind is just an illusion.
The Priestess (2) is met immediately after - She and the Magician represent the balance and duality of human existence – the internal psyche. The Magician represents our conscious awareness whereas the Priestess is the mysterious unconscious. She is the fertile ground where ideas can arise but we need the creative spark of the Magician to actually bring these ideas into reality.
The Empress (3) is next to cross the path of the Fool, a nurturing, grounded and motherly figure who provides undivided attention and love. Spending time in this safe environment allows the Fool to learn and grasp awareness of his surroundings, taking in the sensations of the world while protected.
The next archetype the Fool encounters is the father figure, The Emperor (4) He is representative of structure and authority, embodying the first set of rules encountered by the Fool as he matures. The Fool will learn that there are limits to his desires and certain discipline is necessary for his own benefit.
Now, The Fool ventures away from his home and meets The Hierophant (5) a wise teacher who represents organized belief systems. The Fool has begun to develop knowledge about traditions of culture and begins his formal education. The Fool starts to understand what it means to belong among others while retaining a sense of personal identity.
Continuing on the journey, The Fool comes to a crossroads, continue on this current path or as depicted in The Lovers (6) card; reach out and become part of a union which provides balance and adoration.
The Fool is now an adult with a defined character and a certainty in their values. Through discipline and will-power, there is a developed inner control which allows triumph over their environment.
The Chariot (7) arrives to teach The Fool about having a decisive mind, staying the course and making victory non-optional. Time passes and life presents The Fool with numerous challenges, some of which cause suffering and disillusionment which requires them to draw on Fortitude (Strength) (8) to develop courage and find resolve to carry on despite setbacks.
During this stage the Fool acquires quiet confidence and patience. Sooner or later, the Fool comes to ask the question “Why?” Absorbed with the search for answers. The Hermit (9) represents the need to find deeper truth. Seeking moments of solitude away from the frantic activity of society - The Fool begins to introspectively look at the lessons he has learned, trying to understand his feelings and motivations.
The Fool has an enlightening realization that the world is full of cycles - nothing is really ever ‘the end’ The Wheel of Fortune (10) means things will happen exactly when they’re meant to and that we’re all subject to fate. This can be good or bad depending on which way the Wheel turns. However, he also knows that the Universe will bring balance to every action and that there will always be Justice (11) He learns to act with integrity because his actions will always have consequences. Justice brings balance into situations and resolution to legal matters; there is always the divine retribution of karma.
The Fool is determined to realise his dreams but finds that life may not be so easily conquered. They experience an event that is simply too difficult to endure and have no choice but to surrender and let go. The Hanged One (12) signifies a time of insight so deep that, for a moment, nothing but that insight exists.
The Fool now comes across an energy we know as Metamorphosis (Death) (13) which encourages profound change, an ego death - where the person that the Fool thought they were falls away. The slate is wiped clean and a whole new phase of existence is laid out - where new, more aligned opportunities have space to enter. After everything has been washed away, there is silence and peace.
Temperance (14) is the next lesson to become The Fool. Temperance tells of the balance of strengths within us and we learn to be patient and to find harmony without constantly needing to pursue new things. There is not always a need for immediate action.
Soon, The Fool attempts to embark on new ventures only to realise that they’re still shackled to the past – emotionally, physically or financially. The Fool comes face to face with The Shadow (Devil) (15) Symbolizing the side of our psyche which contains all the aspects of our existence and selves which we avoid or dislike. The Shadow forces the fool to reflect on where there is self limitation and resistance.
Filled with despair The Fool watches as The Tower (16) crumbles, shaking him loose from these attachments, using external forces out of his control. This feels terrifying – but is for a higher good - a favour from the Universe to help set The Fool free. After the fact, The Fool is bathed in a serene calm which emanates from The Star (17) This represents a period of quiet healing for The Fool as he recuperates from the events of late, endowed with a trust and sense of renewal.
The Fool feels inspired by this regenerative period, and wants to set out embodying their true self, however The Moon (18) represents any fears and subconscious programming that may prevent us from enjoying this new state of bliss. Light casts a shadow and the shadow, in this case, is the old anxiety and fears which may rise to the surface when attempting to shine brightly as The Star.
The Sun (19) rises and illuminates The Fools imagination, dispelling all the clouds and fear that hung before. With a restored motivation and direction The Fool advances with vitality towards the new beginning. The Fool has been reborn. The false, ego-self has been shed, allowing a radiant, true self to manifest. The Fool has discovered that joy, not fear, is at life’s center. Self-forgiveness is learned, despite past regrets and mistakes, and it is time for the Fool to make Judgement (20) about his values, choosing wisely which values to cherish, and which to discard.
about his values, choosing wisely which values to cherish, and which to discard.
The journey has come to an end for The Fool - they have mastered The World (21). The Fool shares their unique gifts and talents and finds that prosperity is present in every attempt. And so, at the conclusion of the journey we realize it was not so foolish after all. The Fool is now fully aware of their place in the world. This cycle is over, but, the Fool will never stop growing. Soon he will be ready to begin a new journey that will lead them to even greater levels of understanding.