The first card of the Major Arcana is the Fool. It’s a hard one to understand because we were all taught that it’s a negative thing – to act foolish or to play the silly fool. But this card dares you to do it, to take chances, to value the unknown.
Why? What is there to be gained? According to David Fontana, a psychologist, parapsychologist and prolific author on the Tarot, “The Fool is poised between the illusory stability of the physical world behind and the expansive unknown of the spiritual dimension ahead.”
This card suggests that in order to get to the spiritual we have to let go of the appearance of permanence and do something – something to wake us up to this paradigm shift. I have found it to be very true in my own life. I was lucky. I was introduced to the Fool early, by a great teacher, and he has been with me ever since.
It all started on a cold April morning right after I turned six. My father had an adventure planned for the two of us. Had he told my mother, there is no way our escapade would have happened. She would have said he was crazy if he thought he was going to wake his little girl up at 4 a.m. (when good little girls are supposed to be tucked into their beds).
I was still groggy when my father bundled me up and buckled me into the back seat of his black Pontiac Bonneville. We drove down to the beach near my house, and under the cover of darkness, we made our way to the dunes just on the other side of the boardwalk. The chilly predawn air nipped at my cheeks as we settled in and waited.
The black night began to recede and the sky grew lighter. It wasn’t the regular blue sky of day. That morning the sky was a big white canvas being painted before my eyes – a deep purple at the horizon line, pink and orange layers of color above that, a few wisps of grayish white clouds, and an inkling of pale blue beyond. My father said, “Keep your attention right on the horizon line where the sky meets the ocean. The sun is waking up and coming to see you.”
The anticipation was building. I could feel in my bones that something magical was about to happen, something that was beyond what I understood my own little life to be up to that point. Even though the sun rose every day, and even though I knew it did, I never gave it any thought. As I sat there, wrapped in my father’s warm embrace, I was becoming aware of a mystical force that was greater than both of us.
My father said, “Life is a precious gift. It is not about what happens, but how you react to what happens. There is nothing on this Earth that is truer than what is inside of your heart. No matter what happens – good or bad – you are in charge of your heart. And your heart is as bright as the sun in the big blue sky.”
To my father, the sunrise represented that great new beginning, the opportunity to start anew. According to the iconography of the Fool, we initiate all of our life’s journeys under blue skies with joy and optimism, recognizing there may be uncertainty of what’s ahead, all the while realizing there is more to life than the material world. My father told me that my power is within me and is, at the same time, supported by a universal consciousness that connects us all.
Then a thin sliver of brightness appeared on the horizon. The sun came up more quickly than I had imagined it would. It was a color I had never seen before – a beautiful bright magenta – so unlike the yellow sun I had always known that it took my breath away. Once above the horizon, the sun reflected a long bright line on the water, shining out like all the possibilities that the day held.
I realize now that that morning was the beginning of my spiritual journey, just as the Fool suggests. My father had a mission. He found a way to make me aware of the spiritual dimension, the perils along the road of life, and to always have the strength to start again. The sunrise is a constant reminder of the importance of keeping the Fool alive in my life. I didn’t know that then. All that my six-year-old self knew that day was the peace I felt and the joy I exhaled as the sun rose higher and higher.
I have woken up many days at 4 a.m. to catch the sunrise – in my backyard, on the top of Masada in Israel, on a pilgrimage to the holy waters of Kanyakumari in India, on the shorelines of Costa Rica and Hawaii. Each and every time I am in awe just as I was that very first time. The Fool is with me as my delight and trust in the universe rises, just like the sun in the big blue sky.
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