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RWS - 0 the Fool

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jmd  jmd is offline
Join Date: 05 Aug 2001
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RWS - 0 the Fool

Given its numeration on this deck, it just seems appropriate to begin here.

The Fool, as all the other cards drawn by Pamela Colman-Smith, incorporates numerous subtle elements, which I personally find worthwhile comparing to depictions in earlier (and some later) decks - and hope no-one minds if I at times mention some of these.

Unlike many earlier depictions, this younster has far more of an upright and bright Perceval/Parzival like depiction than the motley and somewhat horrid-looking rendition of the woodcuts (which I, nonetheless, prefer ). Here he faces the left of the card, near a cliff, with a tunic upon which are depicted numerous wheel-like representations.

Two of these are of especial significance, and carefully maintained by Paul Foster Case in his later deck: the Flame and the Hebrew letter Shin (which also corresponds, incidently, to the element of Fire).

If one did not know that Waite, following the Golden Dawn tradition, connected this card with Alef, and hence the element of Air, correlations with Shin and Fire would probably be made to this representation.

As a beginning, I'll leave it here and eagerly a-waite other responses!
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Ophiel  Ophiel is offline
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Look at the dog's gesture. You can see the suggestion of the Aleph with his/her body. The front paws almost form a Beth.

The ten circles on his tunic suggest the ten sephiroth on the Tree of Life.

His clothing is blowing in the wind, particularly the sleeves, suggesting Air, which is the correspondence for this card. Also, the Yellow background, suggests Air as Yellow was a color for Air. Perhaps the white sun suggests Kether?

And no doubt the fact that THE FOOL is facing right to left, the same direction that the Hebrew alphabet is read, might have some significance.

Oh Waite...I forgot...Paul Case's version has the actual letters of the Tetragrammaton on his tunic, the undergarment, near his neck: Y-H-V-H. Perhaps the position of the formula is aligned with a Chakra, or position on the Tree, which would be roughly between Chesed and Geburah, running about where the Middle Pillar would be set.

And a little RIDER note to my post:

The Wand in the Fool's hand is, according to Case (I think), a symbol of the Will. Notice how the position of the wand is at neck level, separating the head (Mind) from the heart (feelings.) Not sure if that works, but it is an observation.
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Ophiel  Ophiel is offline
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Waite the Man

I just want to add a note here about Waite the man, in the event readers are not checking all the various threads starting up about the Waite cards. I posted a message in Phoenix' introduction to topics thread that I think is very important for this project. I haven't figured out how to link to it yet, so I'll just ask you to go read it. Basically what it's about is Waite the man, who must be considered underneath our study here. Many just think of him as the designer of possibly the most popular deck in the world. He was a lot more, and it is humbling for me to sort through a list of the books, authoritative books, this man wrote. He is clearly an intellectual of great magnitude, whether or not you agree with his slant on things. I personally have trouble reading his texts because of his writing style, which some of you have been exposed to in reading his Pictorial Guide to the Tarot.
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ihcoyc's Avatar
ihcoyc  ihcoyc is offline
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With the Waite deck, you not only have to consider Waite the person, but also Pamela Colman Smith's influence on the project. (I tend to think that the deck's virtues are mostly PCS's handiwork, while its flaws are mostly Waite's).

One thing that intrigues me about the RWS Fool is that the original Marseilles image gives the Fool two sticks: his rucksack stick and his walking stick. In the RWS design, the walking stick has shrunk to the single white rose that he carries. Of course, the traditional Fool is a bearded Everyman of indeterminate age, a figure of mockery, pursued by animals. RWS's Fool is more a figure of inexperience than a figure of fun. Still, the RWS Fool is in more physical hazard; he wanders along the side of a precipice.

The old Fool is bearded, unambiguously male. The RWS Fool's beardlessness, longish Prince Valiant hairstyle, and flowing clothing at least make it possible to see the card as another of the figures of ambiguous sex that run through the RWS deck. The only thing that sexes him is the slight suggestion of an Adam's apple.

My 1971 Weiser/US Games copy of the deck gives him what appears to be a Classical wreath of green leaves. I'm not sure why.
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Ophiel  Ophiel is offline
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And interestingly enough, the Golden Dawn instructions for this card (each person had to make the majors by hand) is very different in design, as can be seen on both the Robert Wang "Golden Dawn Tarot Deck" and the deck by the Ciceros, "Golden Dawn Magical Tarot," depicting an infant and a wolf.

The Instructions for this card are as follows (from "The Tarot Trumps" By G.H. Soror, Q.L.):

This card as usually presented shows a man in motley striding along, heedless of the dog which tears his garments and threatens to attack him. In this is seen only the lower aspect of the card, giving no hint to the Divine Folly of which St. Paul speaks. But in the Order pack, an effort is made to reveal the deeper meaning. A naked child stands beneath a rose-tree bearing yellow roses – the golden Rose of Joy as well as the Rose of Silence. While reaching up to the Roses, he yet holds in leash a gray wolf, worldly wisdom held in check by perfect innocence. The colors are pale yellow, pale blue, greenish yellow – suggestive of the early dawn of a spring day.
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lupo138  lupo138 is offline
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fool - death

hello to all !

please let me join in, pretty please !

the fool has some details in common with Death:
1) they are the only two cards that are assigned (from the GD) to paths that lead from the middle pillar to the pillar of mercy
2) both have the sun in the right upper corner. Death at sunrise, Fool at noon I would say
3) both have a red feather on their hat/helmet (does any one know what that means ?)
4) both have a white rose in their left hand. The fool has a real rose, Death has it on his flag.
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mrsjvan  mrsjvan is offline
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Forgive my ignorance but the mountains in the background must be symbolic of something they seem so prominant to me. They too are mostly white like the sun and so feel connected somehow as if they are reaching for it. Any insights?
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Ophiel  Ophiel is offline
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I recall from my BOTA lessons (20 years ago) that the mountains in the backgrounds usually depict higher states of consciousness. Time permitting, I've started compiling lists of common elements between the various cards, (i.e. those with water, those with mountains, angels, etc.) and if I find anything interesting, I will be posting my impressions in this forum, inviting dialogue. I think, with just the majors, the only two cards whose figures are entering from the sides are THE FOOL and DEATH. Lupo138 noted some other similarities between these two cards.

I think Waite was too well read in the occult to have any 'accidental' connections between the cards. (However, that does not prelude the probability his vision may have been off, at least on some things!)
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Silverlotus  Silverlotus is offline
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I'm curious as to whether the Waite fool is meant to be the Trickster or the Innocent. As I mentioned in another post,, I tend to see the Fool as representing the Zen idea of Beginner's Mind, but I wonder if that is what Waite had in mind. Any ideas?
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Aoife  Aoife is offline
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I read somewhere about the connection between the rose and smell - the emotional response smells invoke - the future smelling rosy or something doesn't smell right.
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