Atu 0: The Fool
Letter: א Aleph (A)
Number: 1, 1000F
Proximity: Sephira #1 (Kether) to Sephira #2 (Chokmah)
Pent #11 “Scintillating”: Air of 離(Li) The Clinging, Fire (Above/Below),
Fire of 坎(K’an) The Abysmal, Water (Without/Within)
Berashith: “Elohim called the Dry Land Earth”
(Upper right)Fire: Hex #37: 家人 (Chia Jên) The Family / Clan
(Lower left) Air: Hex #38: 睽 (K’uei) Opposition
(Upper left) Water: Hex #39: 蹇 (Chien) Obstruction
(Lower right) Earth: Hex #40: 解 (Hsieh) Deliverance
Keywords (Dignified): Adventurous, Homosexuality, Beginnings, Fertility, Abundance, Charisma, Energy, Synchronicity, Divine Madness, Youthful, Innocence, Joyousness, Ecstasy, Optimistic, Lucky, Levity, Exhibitionism, Indiscretion, Reluctance to Listen to Wisdom, Undisciplined
Keywords (Ill-Dignified): Bad decision, Impulsive, Naivety Leading to Destruction, Unrealistic, Flighty, Maniacal, Impervious, Irresponsible, Oblivious, Disconnected, Dismissive, Indecisive, Hesitant, Apathy, Failure to Diligently Proceed, Ignoring Opportunities
Historical: The physical positioning of the Fool card, in the Tree of Life, has been a matter of much dispute, owing chiefly to the fact that the Fool was a *wild card* in the original gaming decks, as they spread across Europe. Only when it began being used as a divination tool, did the question of its placement become a question, of some concern. Some decks place it at the beginning, others at the end, and still others, at one or another places in-between. Following its natural chronological value in the real numbers system, it should always come at the beginning. This is the standard adopted by the Golden Dawn, carried on in The Book of Thoth, and confirmed in the Mutational Alchemy Tarot Deck, where chronology is attended to with a much greater precision than ever before.
Although quite a few of the ATU characters carry a staff, the Fool will traditionally be using his, to carry his belongings, off to the right of the card, towards the future. An animal is present behind the Fool. Cats, wolves, dogs and crocodiles are all popularly used.
Golden Dawn: Called The Foolish Man, (The Spirit of Ether), the Fool card corresponds to elemental Air, and the planetary Pluto, and places between Sephira #1 (Kether) and Sephira #2 (Chokmah) in the Golden Dawn system. The emphasis is that of a young man embarking on a journey, short on material resources, but long on charisma, full of wonder, and innocence. It is typically linked to Idea, Thought, Spirituality, and Energetic Initiative.
A brilliant sun, and flowers, indicate Spring. Roses, of no particular color figure prominently. If depicted, the cliff is over a watery abyss, in which swims a crocodile. It may not be depicted, in some Golden Dawn decks. The wolf, representing Fool’s controlled, baser, animal nature, is also present behind the Fool. It is OK to substitute other wild animals for the wolf, and some GD decks, such as the Rider-Waite, use a dog, and sometimes, the Fool is a baby. These symbols are consistently seen across the vast array of Golden Dawn tarots that came out of the organization.
Thoth: In Thoth we find a much more expansive definition of the Fool, as a preeminent force of Nature, himself. Here the Fool is seen as the vehicle of manifestation, stemming from Crown in the Above, and culminating in the Universe card, Below. It is linked to the Spirit of Springtime, where everything is fresh and new – seemingly appearing as if from nowhere, and nothing at all – filling the great cauldron of Life, with infinite possibilities. Its archetype shifts from innocent vagabond, to that of Dionysius, Bacchus, the Green Man of Spring, and similar archetypal forms. A tiger is used as the animal symbol which bites into him. The crocodile is also present.
Mutational Alchemy: Like Thoth, Mutational Alchemy is interested in the Fool as the great Alpha of physical manifestation. There are very clear, qabbalistic, similarities to the *Adam Kadmon* (the primordial *First Man*) stepping forward from the alchemical *Prima Materia*, or *First Matter*, from which all other divisions, layers, and dimensions unfold. In the Fool, we find an embodied example of the possibilities of existence – a state of Mind and Matter above the fray, and unencumbered by the shackles of Restriction. In the Fool, life is a great adventure, and existence is pure Joy and perfect Freedom.
The Proximity Principle validates the Fool’s positioning, between Sephiroth One (Kether, Crown) and Two (Chokmah, Wisdom). Its elemental hexagrams tell an amazingly complex story of love, and danger – of struggle, and victory, against all worldly odds. It is important to note, that the Fool is alchemically linked to the Fortune card, which carries the same hexagrams in Reciprocal Inverse order. Distilling its four hexagrams down to their bigrammal components reveals a preponderance of both Air and Earth elements, numbering 4 of each in total. In the Four Bigrams, Air and Earth correspond to Son and Daughter, which positions them hierarchically in the relationship of Microcosm.
Microcosm’s overwhelming *aspiration* is to Macrocosm in the Above, so here, we see a very unexpected circumstance where the Fool, (which is already at Apex in the Above) is clothed in the inertia of profound Ascension.
It carries Pentagram #11 at helm, reading *Air of Li* in the Above/Below position and *Fire of K’an* in the Without/Within position. Li and K’an traditionally correspond to the elements of Fire and Water, respectively. It is perhaps, most interesting, in this case, that K’an, (the Abysmal, Water,) is carried internally, as this may tell us something about the nature of the Fool’s assorted struggles and conflicts, which would seem to have no other apparent source so much as K’an within. K’an also appears twice in the corner hexagrams, along the Yin, (left-slant,) diagonal axis.
We may assert with a degree of confidence, that while the Fool is cloaked outwardly in an abundance of Fire and Air, it is nevertheless internally preoccupied with Earth, and Water, and *troubled* waters in particular. Water typically links to Emotions, but is also the province of Saturn, wherein we come ‘round to the notion of universal law, and laws. The Fool, in that case, is in many respects, a kind of standard of future civilization itself. His *journey* is ultimately no different than the journey that humankind is on.
The Scene: The Fool’s journey throughout the Tree of Life is no minor walk in the park. A primordial superman in his own right, he is like Enkidu (the heroic character from Sumerian mythology,) not yet having achieved perfect understanding, but powerful to action, and perfectly joined with Nature, the Queen of Infinite Space who is his secret protector, and parent, Lady Luck. The Fool is at the brink of a cliff, overlooking the Tree, symbolic of the Great Division, between the Supernals, and Infernals, within the Tree of Life itself. He is poised, about to take the plunge, into *life beneath the waters*, as the Infernals are often called, yet perfectly protected by his/her natural synergy. Note also however, as a serpent, he is moving both left, and right, towards past and future but remains firmly grounded in the present.
The iconography of the feathered serpent in mythology represents the deity who has powers over heaven, and the underworld, a marriage of the chthonic and sky gods in one. Such representations of a serpent, combined with the heavenly powers of birds, were not confined to Mesoamerican belief. The Sumerian serpent deity Ningishzidda is also depicted in combination with winged djinn.
The jaguar here, is like the fool’s lion, or dog, (sometimes a crocodile,) depicted biting the ankle of the fool, traditional in older tarot, and still present, but in the form of the jaguar. In the jaguar’s land of origin, it was admired simply for what it was, a great hunter, and fighter. Here it represents the Yin principle, whereas the feathered serpent represents the Yang. The crocodile is inferred by the mythology of the characters themselves. Cipactli shows up later on The Hanged Man, as well, where Tezcatlipoca is in his human form rather than the jaguar form.
Kukulkan and Tezcatlipoca weave a colorful tapestry of creation, drama, magick and mystery in the Fool card. Co-creators, and rivals, in the Aztec pantheon. Kukulkan is typical of the horned and feathered serpent gods of the American continents, with his primary function being that of the fertile male deity, Lord of Light, benevolent, with a warmer character than his brother, Tezcatlipoca (literally, “smoking mirror”,) who has grim stories, and gruesome ritual iconography, associated with him. Tezcatlipoca is identified with the jaguar, one of the denizens of the jungles of Central and South America. Tezcatlipoca is known as “the sacrificed one” and he is depicted more than once in our deck’s journey. The Egyptian star-goddess Nuit is also identified here, as the purple miasma with star substrate and, in the spots of the leopard’s coat.