The Fool’s Journey

The map is in two parts. The external world is depicted on the left side. Four cards describe our outer world: The Tower, The Wheel of Fortune, The Hanging Man and The Devil. These are called the Hell Cards to express the idea that this world is imperfect; indeed, it is pure hell for many people. (Of course there are also wonderful things about it. Just that its not all wonderful, although it could be.)

This is where The Fool starts out. But by his or her very nature, there is no satisfaction here. Something important is missing, something higher, more meaningful, and this is what The Fool seeks. The nature of the journey is to leave this world, and the direction of the journey is inward.

The center oval represents this inward journey in seven stages. The oval or eye (perhaps you see eye is equivalent to “I”) proceeds from left to right. The seven stages are named across the bottom: Portal, Inner Knowledge, and so on. the first and last stage are represented by one card each; the other stages are represented by two cards, one at the top of the eye and one at the bottom. For example, the second stage consists of the cards The Hierophant and The Moon Pool. Each card represents one aspect of the work to be done in that stage.

In the center of the eye are five cards. The World represents the higher, spiritual realms and suffuses the entire diagram, including the outer world (where it is largely concealed from ordinary states of consciousness). In the metaphor we use in the Fool’s Journey, this state is symbolized by the union of Shiva and Shakti. It is this androgynous being that is depicted on most versions of this card. The entire journey may be seen as coming into resonance with this being, or – what is the same thing – uniting Shiva and Shakti within oneself.

Four final cards appear in a circle around The World. They are Awakening (known as Judgement in most decks), The Chariot, Transference (known as Temperance), and The Lovers. (I have changed the names of several of the cards where the usual name was incorrect or wrongly emphasized. This was necessary because some of the original names were given to hide their real meanings from the prevailing forces in Europe at the time, i.e. the Roman Church.) These cards are more global in effect than the outer cards, or are catalysts that originate outside the individuality of The Fool during the journey.

Of course, this is just the surface, especially if you’re new to the Tarot cards. Or even if you’re an old hand, and you’re starting to get hot around the collar because I’ve put the cards in a new order, and even given some of them new names. See the Fool’s School page for more details.