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What Does the Fool Card Signify in the Tarot?

Updated on January 25, 2018

The Fortune Teller by Mikhail Vrubel


What Does The Tarot Have To Say?

We all wonder what the meaning behind the cards is when we begin reading tarot. Tarot is one of the most popular forms of divination in existence. It may have started off as playing card game, but occultists eventually began using it as a means for telling the future. We pose our questions to the cards and use the images to draw conclusions about problems we face in life. Does it work? Many people swear by the cards when they need to make decisions about their lives. There are many ways to read the cards. The simplest way is with a solitary card pulled from the deck. More complex spreads can give us insight into a situation from various angles.

Shuffling a deck and selecting the cards is the easy part. Next we have to determine which way to read the cards. There are many books on the market which give us guidelines on how to interpret the cards. Sometimes the best way to understand a card is to look at the imagery and see what the pictures conjure up in our intuitive minds. Some say that each deck divines the future in a different way. Currently there are so many different Tarot decks on the market. The Fool might be pictured very differently depending on which deck you are using. The most commonly used Tarot deck is the Rider-Waites deck.

The Fool is the first or last card in tarot. It is equivalent to the joker in a regular set of playing cards and is a trump or major arcana card. It marks the start of a journey where we are filled with childlike innocence. It takes faith and hopefulness to embark on exciting new adventures. When this card appears in a reading there are many things to feel enthusiastic about. Risks are reflected in this card through the symbolism of the cliff. An Infinite number of possibilities are presented in this card. The new beginning it symbolizes could be a new job, home, or school. Trying out any new activity or making a fresh start is the hallmark of this card. A new path to follow of uncharted territory which is waiting to be mapped out.

The Major Arcana

The Major Arcana cards represent larger archetypes in life. Each card is symbolic of different points in the Fool's. He is awarded the number of zero in terms of placement in the deck. Standing outside of all of the cards he is present journeying through it's entirety. 22 cards make up the Major Arcana. When many Major Arcana cards appear in a reading there is a lot of energy around the issue at hand. Some fortune tellers abbreviate the deck by merely using the Major Arcana cards in a reading. Minor Arcana cards tend to reflect on events of day to day life.

History Of The Tarot

The Tarot originated as a deck of playing cards. Playing cards were first introduced to Europe in the 14th century. The Fool may have originally been considered the checkmate card in older Tarot sets. He was also often referred to as the beggar or madman in some older decks. In these older decks The Fool is dressed in tattered rags. In the Rider-Waite deck he is dressed in fine apparel and doesn't come across as a beggar.

When a set of cards is used for predicting the future this is known as cartomancy. Cartomancy can be performed with a regular deck of cards, but the Tarot is by far the most popular form of cartomancy.

There are different beliefs as to why the Tarot cards work. Some believe we are tapping into a collective unconscious when we are working with the cards. There is also a belief that it is a spirit communication that is occurring. Some just use the cards to free associate and get ideas about solutions to problems.



  • Hopefulness
  • Positivity
  • Curiousisty
  • Innocense
  • Intuition
  • Childlike


In the Rider-Waite deck we have a finely dressed young man walking towards a precipice with a small dog bounding at his heels. The Sun is shining behind him as he walks forward unaware of the cliff before him. In one hand he carries a rose symbolic of his appreciation for beauty. In his other hand he carries his staff with a bundle at the end of it carrying his worldly belongings. This is the very start of a new journey. The cliff beneath him represents the elements of danger starting out on a new path.

The Fool might mark the beginning of a spiritual journey. The little dog nipping at his feet can be said to symbolize worldly distractions. Kind of like "monkey mind" described in Tibetan meditation practice where we cannot focus on the task at hand. The Fool continues his journey through the rest of the cards in the Major Arcana of a Tarot set. In this card we have a dog which is a theme which will crop up in some of the other cards in the deck. Dogs also represent the civilized world as a domesticated animal. They can be a symbol of all that the human race has achieved control over the years. In some decks the dog is a friendly companion to the Fool. In other decks the dog rips at the clothes of the Fool and puts tears in his leggings. Each card would give a tremendously different picture of what is going on within the journey depending on which deck you are using.

Le Mat


When The Fool appears in a tarot reading it is a time of new beginnings. An older phase of your life is ending and you are making a fresh new start. Various aspects of your life could be about to change. Though there are many risks involved it is best to remain hopeful and optimistic. Let go of all of your expectations and learn to trust your instincts. All major changes involve risks. Life would be a static experience if we did not overcome our fear of risks and challenge. This card is leading to a new awakening. There are many new avenue in life to explore which are rift with potential. Anything is currently possible and many new opportunities are budding and waiting to come along.

Life will become like a brand new adventure in whatever arena you can expect change in. Confront these opportunities with a curious and innocent spirit. Your child nature will come out as you experience something completely different for the first time. Follow your sense of adventure and seek out new experiences. It is a good time to tap into feelings of wanderlust. Your judgments at this time will not be influenced by fear and will work out for you.

The Fool Reversed

Reversed Key Words

  • Impulsive
  • Careless
  • Reckless
  • Narrow-minded
  • Prejudice
  • Undisciplined

Reversed Interpretation

The opposite of spontaneity is recklessness. There are times when things in life take a little bit of planning. If we don't do our background work we may not do as good a job as we could have. The Fool reversed suggests that you might be recklessly plunging into a venture without being cautious. Take some time to think about the consequences of your actions before moving forward. It is also possible that a close-minded attitude might be getting in the way of your happiness. It may be preventing you from moving forward in your life. You can only grow as a person if you try new things. You might also be limiting yourself by not taking enough risks in your life. Think about your situation and look at what seems most applicable.

Meditating On The Fool Card

When you wish to eliminate fear issues from your life The Fool card is a good one to use for meditational purposes. You will be using this card as a meditation object. Merely select The Fool card from your favorite Tarot deck and gaze upon it while meditating. 10 minutes is a good amount of time to start. You may wish to create sacred space by lighting candles and incense. It is nice to have a cushion to sit on. Posture in meditation tends to be very important. Sit on the cushion with your knees below your hips. Breath deeply and gaze upon the card without allowing too many thoughts to form in your mind. Let the thoughts drift by without elaborating on them or getting distracted. Merely gaze upon the image without letting ideas form.

After you are done meditation you may wish to use your fresh state of mind to jot down any new insights you have in a journal!

The Fool - Upright and Reversed

Have you ever consulted the tarot to help make a decision about a problem in your life?

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