The Fool Doesn’t Look Down

 The Fool card and I go way back. And it’s still my card.

I know what you’re thinking — but you are so smart and knowledgeable! You’ve been a teacher! Blah yadda blah! … yeah …

But one should always be ready to learn, no matter how learned they already are. One should always be a spiritual innocent, ready to see Great Spirit in the eyes of anyone you meet. Believing you already know what your role is– what your karma, your svaha, your true north, your divinely guided purpose is — is a pretty good sign that you actually haven’t learned it at all yet. I was pretty sure at the ripe old age of 23 that I was meant to be a high priestess … And then life. And lessons. And the realization that I had no business at that age, place and time to think I had anything about my life all figured out. It was later that I met mentors, teachers, professors and advisors that, when my eyes were skyward with my own sense of spiritual certainty and ideological rightness, directed me right to the cliff to step off of. (Some actually pushed me off, but that’s another story.) The Fool is forever a reminder to get over yourself. And that sometimes the only mode of transportation available to you is a leap of faith.

When I returned to Paganistan after defending my dissertation in Milwaukee, I strode into the Sacred Paths Center, where a fundraiser for a Pagan community elder’s medical bills was going on. The Dunn County Clerics, our favorite local Pagan folk group at the time, was singing their original song titled “The Fool Card”. It outlined how the most hopeful of starts can lead to lows and trials and failures and friends in the journey to completion. The lyric of the last verse described the Fool at the end of his mess of a journey, coming to a door with an inscription which read: it’s not been for nothing. I broke down and sobbed in the middle of the party. (The poor singer started to falter when he saw me cry.)

Harmony Tribe’s Sacred Harvest Fest in 2009 was themed The Fool’s Journey, which found participants in the rituals taking on the personae of tarot trump characters. My good friend Lou was the Fool, and she leapt into it. Lou is a very silly, irreverent woman, but also one of the wisest people I know… and a possessor of a power that no one expects. Sure, the first night, the Fool led 270 people in a conga line throughout the camp; the same Fool the final night led 300 people in a huge spiral dance as we sang “Follow, follow your heart… deep in your heart you know the way home…!” The community howled with love and power that night—and the Fool giggled in the middle of it all.  

The Fool has everything to gain and nothing to lose.

You don’t pick a card character because of some overblown notion of a shared affinity; you don’t have a clue who you are, let alone which trump you think expresses who you think you are. A trump card is pulled randomly from the deck and will be your lifelong lesson and role to aspire to. Being the Fool does not come easily.

So yes… A lifetime of having my cosmic ass handed to me has led me to realize that there is no more necessary place to be than at the beginning. (I am a student of Miss Cat Yronwode’s Hoodoo Rootwork Correspondence Course at this writing — let me tell you what a fool I am right now.) And I have learned to take with a major mouthful of salt anyone who trots out a lineage, qualifications, special gifts and guides, and degrees as evidence of their spiritual and ethical superiority and acumen. I run straight to the camp of the crazy wisdom masters.

So when Lelly the Lionhearted (this woman has four Leos in her birth chart, I’m surprised she doesn’t pounce on gazelles) texted me and said OMG I FOUND SOMETHING FOR YOU (yep, that’s how she talks), THERE WAS ONLY ONE I GOT IT FOR YOU… I was struck and moved when she sent a pic of a canvas banner depicting… the Fool.

And man, what a Fool it is. The Fool himself is dancing rather than toppling off a cliff. He has horns… A horned god, perhaps. I had earlier that week gotten into an idiotic bickerfest with someone on the chat about depictions of divinity with horns ; my explanation of Celtic and Greek and other gods being horned and then co-opted visually by colonizing Christian cultures was trammeled over by someone deciding I was insulting Christians and that it’s older as an insult to Jews. (Hey it’s even more than both of those things. Jeez.) A lot of Pagan men I know proudly wear horns at fest or ritual. He was my kind of Fool.

What was beyond-the-pale silly was rather than being joined by a yippy dog warning him of his impending drop — the Fool in this illustration was joined by a singing frog playing a mandolin.

Oh my god, I said, that frog. I can’t even…


(Lelly is that kind of big-hearted silly. We had to have been sisters in a past life.)

So, Kermit jokes aside, I’m off again to figure out WHAT THE HELL A SINGING FROG…  

… and to remember to laugh and screw up and take forgiveness and be a little stupid on this path of living among spirits and magic and mystery…

… and learn to lead the dance without looking like it … and start over again…

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