Welcome to part two of the Meditations on the Fool series, where this blogger takes a break from theory and attempts to record the results of practice. As mentioned in part one, I had a lucky find at Half Price Books of Gareth Knights 'Magical World of the Tarot', and immediately set about going through the lessons therein. The first lesson, apart from some history and an understanding of the 'tarot flow chart' as my compatriot @ghostlyharmless called it, was two to three weeks of visualization / meditation on the Fool. The first week revealed a lot and was, as Knight predicted, quite nuts. The chaos that the Fool brings to what is an otherwise tame visualization exercise (picturing the Fool walking along a mountain path and whistling, and attempting to get his attention) was staggering. The first week answered for me a nagging question:
How far does the Fool archetype go? Was there a Neolithic Fool?
That answer was a categorical yes, the Fool archetype flows from the bear, the original wild man of the forest, unpredictable, naked, and hungry. The bear has aggression, has naïveté, has power, and holds deep secrets about the forest in which man lives.
Week Two of the meditation on the Fool continued this motif, much without my asking. There were also periods of silence, or really, of being pretty much ignored and given no further insights. The Fool, the spirit of the Tarot as Knight refers to him as, is much like any spirit in this regard. Just because I was trying to talk to him did not mean he was at my beckon call. One day, in particular, I went through the entire meditation and he gave me nothing, not a smile, not an odd word, he just stood there and faded in and out of being a two dimensional card. I was able to solve this by doubling down, by trying longer, and not harder. I rebooted the meditation / visualization sequence in my brain and spent that much more time with him.
Last week the insights I was given centered on the dog at the Fool's heels, the dog that is the Fool himself, that is a representation of the unconscious.This week it was about the contents of the pack (again, a nod to ghostlyharmless for the prompt, although I'm not sure I reached the conclusions he hoped I would). The Fool as the Bear unwrapped the pack initially and what I found inside was honeycomb. It wasn't the substance though that was the point, but the pattern. The insight I was given was in how to feed my unconscious, how do I speak to it, what vehicle should I use. The answer was patterns. The unconscious eats patterns and feeding it patterns that you create in the forest world ensure that you have optimized your chance for communication.
I switched my daily practice of sigilmancy to creating regular patterns, where as they were asymmetrical beasties before. The body feel I receive now, after the switch, is much more intense, a sign to me that I am on the right path towards an optimal practical enchantment. Instead of honeycomb I create sigils and mirror them on the backs of bugs and moths. This way (and this is a combination of forest thinking and underworld insights, mind you) the sigils cum spirits still have mobility and defense mechanisms, but are also a tasty treat for the Bear.
The next insight came on the difficult day. That morning followed a sequence of dreams that had the same quality as those that led me to an affinity with St Barbara (mega body feel every single time I say her prayer in the morning, btw). The dream consisted of four black striped snakes escaping from a pack, two deep red, one yellow, and one green. I was in a kitchen of an unknown house, coming down a set of stairs, and tried to grab one of the red snakes by the tail. This resulted in in immediately biting onto my elbow. I experienced real, searing, snake bite pain too, it wasn't that type of dream attack where you know you are being hurt but don't feel anything except the fear. This was real pain.
By the morning and my meditation, I had forgotten the dream. During the second round of visualization, the Fool became more and more like a man, the one pictured in the Visconti-Sforza tarot I currently use. In this deck, there is no dog, there is no pack, but the Fool carries a staff. In the visualization on that day, snakes would up the staff, a caduceus. I was bewildered the whole day (a Wednesday, Mercury's day) on what that meant. Was the Bear the Fool and the Fool was Mercury? It seemed to be stretching the correspondence too thin, to the point where it didn't ring true.
Then today, the answer came. I dutifully tried to bring the classic Marseilles Food to mind, with pack and dog. He whistles the theme to the Rune Soup podcast intro (I'd say I'm listening to it too much, but it is so good), I can't get him to stop. It appeared to be another difficult day, the Fool staying in two dimensions for the most part, stubborn, doing his own thing, and then I saw it, at the top of my vision, an eagle.
The bird came down and the Fool was once again the Bear, a mother Bear with a cub (the little dog), there were my sigil moths, floating near by, and the snakes. The bears weren't eating the snakes, or paying them any mind really. The eagle landed on the Bears back, tilted its head this way and that, and then pounced on a red snake. As it tore into the snakes flesh I understood. The eagle is the spirit world and the snakes are ritual. The Fool as Mother Bear and cub is the unconscious and we speak to it by feeding it patterns, patterns like the pips in a tarot deck like the Visconti-Sfroza where the swords and coins are all laid in a particular order, even numbers mirroring on both sides of the card - or, in the case of my practice, with sigils. In order to use the Tarot to speak to the spirit world, we need to bring the snakes, we need to be confident and dutiful in our ritual use of the Tarot if we are to succeed in using it as it is intended for man to use, as a sort of short-wave radio that can tune in the spirit world on the high side of the dial, and the underworld on the low side, as we sit in the forest, wondering where to go.
The real point I need to make here though is to not get discouraged. I felt a bit like Golem when Bilbo asks him 'What have I got in my pocket?' As a riddle. Of course I don't know what is in the Fools pack, he can be inscrutable and I am at his mercy. Instead of flying into a rage and running off into the caverns with the Fool following you, laughing, stand your ground, make some guesses, and the answer might be revealed.