The Hero’s Journey begins with The Fool. He walks blithely along, not looking where he’s going and completely unaware he’s about to step over the edge of a precipice. He carries his past in a bag on a stick. In his other hand is a small white flower, and a dog follows at his heels.
This is the archetype of the Wise Fool whose lack of worldly experience appears to put him at a disadvantage, but it means his mind is open to another level of consciousness – whether he realises it or not. He lives on the edges of life and society, and goes his own way regardless of what others think. An example would be Peter Sellers’ character in the film Being There. He plays Chance, a gardener whose simplistic statements are taken as profound by everyone around him. The wise fool is the Holy Fool or Divine Child – a lunatic who hides genius within his madness.
The Fool is also the archetype of the Green Man. He represents the start of a new cycle, new life and fresh beginnings. He has the innocent spirit of a child who doesn’t understand the dangers of the world he’s about to enter. In some card packs, the Fool is shown following a butterfly. This represents his intuition, leading him towards enlightenment, but first he must take a plunge into the abyss at his feet.
The Fool represents pure impulse and life just going along and doing what life does. It is neither good nor bad. The journey cycles round and the Fool will grow in awareness and understanding, only to return to this place again at the start – a fool once more.
At the start of the journey, the Fool is the new born child entering the world. He is unconscious and unaware he has a separate identity, so he’s not yet an individual or responsible for his actions. He’s just setting out, entranced by his sensory experience, willing to explore and open to adventure. The white flower he holds represents his soul – a fragment of divinity, his True Self, which he’ll carry with him on his journey.
This is where we all begin – not just at birth, but whenever we are unconscious of our true nature. The journey towards enlightenment will be difficult and if we knew what was coming we probably wouldn’t set off in the first place. The only way this journey can be undertaken, is in innocence. Our naivety will be beaten out of us soon enough.
Keywords for The Fool:
- Leap into the unknown
- New beginnings
- Creative dreamer
Next step on the journey to awakening: The Magician