This is my series on the Major Arcana of the Rider-Waite-Smith. I took these notes back in 2008 when I was a spry young thing. For a little intro, click here. These notes are verbatim; partially for novelty, partially for preservation. I will add annotations in purple (and in parentheses.)
White rose–purity, clarity of purpose
(Clarity of purpose probably comes from a rose being related to the pentagram, which represents one’s intent. White represents purity. Hence, pure intentions.)
Red feather–Truth, victory
Dog–guidance, enthusiasm, pay attention to inner self
(I also relate this dog to the white horse in Death and The Sun. A different form, perhaps?)
Button (on the bag)–all-seeing eye, divine, holy spirit, watchful eye
(I thought this was over-analyzing, but didn’t want to omit anything.)
Eagle (also on the bag)–objectivity, soaring spirit
Posture–soulful, inner child
Zero (number on card)–unlimited potential, the unknown
Laurel Wreath–classic symbol of victory, finding Divine in nature, following one’s own nature.
White Sun–actions guided from above
Cliff**–stepping into physicality, accepting a possibly painful experience
(**more on this at the end!)
Staff–willingness, action, directed power
(though I note it is in a passive position, perhaps he doesn’t even realize what it is!)
Black (color of staff)–unlimited potential
Circles on Jacket–10 circles, Tree of Life, Wheel of Fortune, journey of life. Circles could also be full moons and stars–child of the divine.
(I really think they are pomegranates to symbolize the High Priestess, more on that below! Also I don’t know where Carl got 10 circles from… there are like 13. The eight-pointed star inside each circle could also be the Eight-fold Path of Buddhism.)
Notes from the future! (Aka, ideas I had just now.)
The Dog: I mentioned relating the Dog to the White Horses in Death and The Sun. (If you are unfamiliar, look it up!) What if the white animal were a spirit guide, or even more so, a spiritual purpose? Imagine the character in the card is Jesus and the white animal is the Holy Spirit. How would this change from the Fool to Death? How does the dog versus the horse change the relationship to the spirit?
Relation to Other Cards: It is said that the Fool is moving through the Tarot and gaining knowledge and experience. But the Major Arcana can also be circular. So, after coming to full realization and reaching The World, you start over as the Fool again. Many have noticed aspects of other cards in the Fool: the pomegranates I mentioned on his dress, the mountains in the background, the laurel wreath and red feather on his head, and others. I get this notion the Fool has just gone on this whirlwind journey. He has seen everything, been to the deepest depths of mystery, and now here he is once again, frolicking on a mountain. But there are these hints that suggest all those experiences are still with him (also kind of a nod to reincarnation.)
The Cliff: I was staring at the card, thinking of how you could over-analyze anything, even the weird lumps in the ground. I’m sure someone has already suggested the ground the Fool stands on looks like recently-cooled lava. I imagined; what if the ground is forming right beneath his feet as he walks?
Ha! In making fun of myself, I came up with a new idea.
This reminds me of a podcast called “On Being.” Krista Tippet was interviewing Brother David Steindl-Rast and he talked about old religions or traditions and how they grow too rigid. He said, in their early development, they are like a volcano, with hot fire bursting through and new ground forming. Then, in later years, these traditions become like solid old mountains. He said you wouldn’t even believe these mountains had ever been volcanoes.
The Fool is dancing in that fresh lava; freshly-poured earth. And the old, rigid mountains of yore are only a distant backdrop for him. They are small from his perspective, and he can see them, but he is more concerned with his current experience.