or, Meditations on the Fool
This week I'd like to take a bit of a break from the researched posts and instead talk a bit about some insights I have gained through the first lesson in Gareth Knights 'Magical World of the Tarot', which I found in conjunction with Issues 1 - 16 of Grant Morrison's 'The Invisibles' at Half Price Books last weekend.
As you know, I have been researching and writing on Hephaestos and his relation to Alchemical traditions. In that research he is painted as a comic, or as seen as ludicrous and foolish by the other gods on Olympus because of his connection with the material world. Haphaestos, I feel, might be one of the original Fool narratives.
In Gareth Knight's book, the first lesson is a week's long meditation on The Fool himself, where you attempt to make contact with him in your mind's eye during regular ten to fifteen minute meditations. I had been performing some light energy cycling in the morning previous to throwing cards for the day, so I replaced that practice with a free form visualization on the Fool based on Gareth Knight's recommendations. Here is what I was taught:
The Fool and his dog are one and the same.
The first visualization / meditation consisted of The Fool hopping all over the place, bouncing back and forth, close and far, like he had a personal transporter or was jumping in and out of dimensional portals. He continued to do that well past the visualization period actually, and into the work day, popping in and out of my mind's eye. I think that was his way of saying, 'Oh, hello there! Where did you come from?' The next day was a bit different, however, I begin my visualization by standing on the beach of a lake nestled high in the mountains, sort of like the environment you might find in Peru or Tibet. The Fool then came sauntering up a path, which is what the Gareth Knight lesson called for. The first day he was alone and carried nothing on him except the shirt on his back. My Fool wears pants, for whatever reason. I supposed nudity isn't as associated with madness for me as it might have been back in the day of the Visconti-Sforza. This day his familiar dog was following him, but when I asked about it, he denied that the dog belonged to him at all. The dog, insistent, continued to bark and claw at the Fool as he sat down, with his back to me, on a rock overlooking a mountain valley. The next day, the scene was the same, but I had a dog as well. An insight came to me, the dog chasing the Fool in many versions of the card, is a representation of the unconscious mind. Often we deny our unconscious is there, and we refuse to listen to it barking and do not feel it scratching and its need for attention.
The next day, the Fool had his familiar pack, we both had a dog, mine sitting at my heel and his active and jumping, trying to get at the pack. He reached in and pulled out bits of paper with my sigils drawn on them, and began to feed them to the dog that now clearly belonged to him. A good meal for a puppy unconscious. The pack represents our communication between the forest mind and the unconscious, the Jungian underworld.
All of this made a lot of sense. Today however, I was given a strange message, and I believe, an answer to a question I have been mulling over since beginning this process. In the Gareth Knight book, he references Act 3 or King Lear as one of the most perfect manifestations of the Fool in the arts. In Act 3, the King and his actual fool, the court jester, come upon a madman called 'Poor Tom'. I read this and headed over to the YouTubes to check out the act and hear the dialog. Knight was certainly on point with this one, Poor Tom, the Jester, and King Lear all manifest as different facets of The Tarot's Fool. The next day, reading through Morrison's 'Invisibles' for the first time, I was treated to another manifestation of the Fool in his character 'Mad Tom'.
The same King Lear dialog, with a bit of modern madness thrown in. This syncing up of my reading material (I had no idea that Morrison used the Fool in the Invisibles as the Initiatory for one of his main characters, Jack Frost) got me to thinking, who was the first Fool? What is the oldest Fool story? We've mentioned Hapheastus, but is there one older? Is there a Neolithic Fool?
I believe I received my answer in this morning's meditation, where, inexplicably, the Fool in my mind became a bear and the dog a bear cub.
It took me aback at first, it was so strange, I don't normally think of bears, although I know a bit about their mythology, especially in the American Indian worldview. The bear is likely one of the oldest friends of man's unconscious. In college I studied American Indian linguistics at a very deep level and there is one word that is pretty much the same across most disparate language families, the word is 'makwa' in Ojibwe (my focus) and those two syllables or something very similar represent 'bear' across the continent and through as much time-depth as we can look through with computational linguistics without having to make pure guesses. This bit of knowledge began to connect the link between the Fool and the Bear archetypes. The Bear is the man of the forest, the man of the wild, just like the Fool. He wanders about unclothed and dirty, eating, sleeping, looking for a mate, and in the case of the mother bear, caring for her young, defending them (the unconscious) fiercely against any threat. The Bear is the Neolithic Fool, she is a pure representation of Forest Thinking, she is threatening and unpredictable when approached. The Bear holds wisdom that can only be learned through observation, as direct interaction is too dangerous.
I have another week of meditation on the Fool and will report back if any other insights reveal themselves, which I suspect they might. In the meantime, remember to feed and defend your unconscious, to nuzzle it, suckle it, listen to and smell your conscious environment for threats and clues to where its next meal might be.