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Fairytale Tarot: The Fool

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This particular Fool card has an interesting story attached. The thing that most 'resonates' about the story of "The Poor Miller's Boy and the Little Cat" to me is the idea that he sets out for a completely different goal than where he ends up. That is very Fool-like. He intends to find a horse and gain the mill, but in the end, he winds up going away with the princess---implied he marries her, thus becoming the prince.

The concept of time in the story is interesting: 7 years feels like 6 months, 3 days feel like 1 night. The Fool doesn't much fear/mind/notice time. He goes with the flow. He follows his instincts. He's rewarded accordingly.

The card itself is rather traditional. Replacing the dog with a cat is interesting. I think of outdoor cats as "little lions" so this almost echoes the idea of "Strength" to me. Obviously, there's no need to tame a cat; they can scratch, but they can't generally kill you. But it gives the same effect. He's a traditional Fool, on the edge of a cliff, dressed in all 4 colors of the elements (cloak of red fire, hem of green earth, tights of blue water, and boots of yellow air). Everything he needs is in his knapsack.

Yet, the greatest change in this card, for me, is that we can see past the edge of the cliff, towards what he's looking at. Interesting that he's looking at the town and presumably the castle, his true destination, and not the mill, his goal in the story. So, perhaps The Fool is always looking at the goal and just doesn't intellectually know it yet.

I also find it interesting he's not in the process of walking, so it's clear he won't walk off the cliff and that he's just stopping to either admire or gain some knowledge from the view. All in all, a very pretty card. I find it falls somewhere in 'the middle' of Fool cards. I have seen some very 'focused' fools and some completely unfocused; I find he's somewhere in between, and strikes a good balance.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by berrieh
Yet, the greatest change in this card, for me, is that we can see past the edge of the cliff, towards what he's looking at. Interesting that he's looking at the town and presumably the castle, his true destination, and not the mill, his goal in the story. So, perhaps The Fool is always looking at the goal and just doesn't intellectually know it yet.

I also find it interesting he's not in the process of walking, so it's clear he won't walk off the cliff and that he's just stopping to either admire or gain some knowledge from the view. All in all, a very pretty card. I find it falls somewhere in 'the middle' of Fool cards. I have seen some very 'focused' fools and some completely unfocused; I find he's somewhere in between, and strikes a good balance.
Great observations, Berrieh, thank you for sharing them!
The 7 years period reminded me of seven Saturnian years, called Sadhe Sati in Vedic astrology - which is the period soul chooses to learn the most (in rather painfull way, though).
I am really excited everytime i find Karen's posts
The Fool did remined me Ivan the silly (i think that would be the closest interpretation of Ivanuska -duracok, duracok is deminutiv of durak, ie. fool in Russian)
and the luck vs hard work reminded me of one of Kabbalah klasses i attended where concept of Mazal was explained - they say that what may seem as a pure luck to us is actually something we worked hard for in previous lifes
Arhitecture of the palace the Fool is looking at lookes to me like Russian Church, although it has a white flag on top, not the cross - which gives me a strong feeling that fool's focus is spiritual and the material benefits he gets is something that just happens by the way.
Can someone tell me what's printed on his bag - i don't have a magnifaying glass at hand?
I do like the switch from a dog to a cat, imo too it does hint on Strenght.
A lot of green colour, it's probably late spring/early summer... and, of course, it's a colour of the heart chakra...
To make long story short - follow your heart
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Be nice, follow orders without ask any question and you will have your reward in the end.
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Xavier  Xavier is offline
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Study Group revival


As part of the study group's revival, here comes the full text of the tale chosen for The Fool : The Poor Miller's Boy and the little cat, from the "Household tales" of the Brothers Grimm.

Let's start the discussion !

(sorry for the poor formatting, I couldn't find a better formatting on the net)
Translated to English by Margaret Hunt (1831-1912), so now in the public domain

In a certain mill lived an old miller who had neither wife nor child,
and three apprentices served under him. As they had been with him
several years, he one day said to them, "I am old, and want to sit in
the chimney-corner, go out, and whichsoever of you brings me the best
horse home, to him will I give the mill, and in return for it he shall
take care of me till my death." The third of the boys was, however,
the drudge, who was looked on as foolish by the others; they begrudged
the mill to him, and afterwards he would not have it. Then all three
went out together, and when they came to the village, the two said to
stupid Hans, "Thou mayst just as well stay here, as long as thou livest
thou wilt never get a horse." Hans, however, went with them, and when
it was night they came to a cave in which they lay down to sleep. The
two sharp ones waited until Hans had fallen asleep, then they got up,
and went away leaving him where he was. And they thought they had done
a very clever thing, but it was certain to turn out ill for them. When
the sun arose, and Hans woke up, he was lying in a deep cavern. He looked
around on every side and exclaimed, "Oh, heavens, where am I?" Then he
got up and clambered out of the cave, went into the forest, and thought,
"Here I am quite alone and deserted, how shall I obtain a horse now?"
Whilst he was thus walking full of thought, he met a small tabby-cat
which said quite kindly, "Hans, where are you going?" "Alas, thou canst
not help me." "I well know your desire," said the cat. "You wish to have a
beautiful horse. Come with me, and be my faithful servant for seven years
long, and then I will give you one more beautiful than any you have ever
seen in your whole life." "Well, this is a wonderful cat!" thought Hans,
"but I am determined to see if she is telling the truth." So she took him
with her into her enchanted castle, where there were nothing but cats
who were her servants. They leapt nimbly upstairs and downstairs, and
were merry and happy. In the evening when they sat down to dinner, three
of them had to make music. One played the bassoon, the other the fiddle,
and the third put the trumpet to his lips, and blew out his cheeks as much
as he possibly could. When they had dined, the table was carried away,
and the cat said, "Now, Hans, come and dance with me." "No," said he,
"I won't dance with a pussy cat. I have never done that yet." "Then
take him to bed," said she to the cats. So one of them lighted him to
his bed-room, one pulled his shoes off, one his stockings, and at last
one of them blew out the candle. Next morning they returned and helped
him out of bed, one put his stockings on for him, one tied his garters,
one brought his shoes, one washed him, and one dried his face with
her tail. "That feels very soft!" said Hans. He, however, had to serve
the cat, and chop some wood every day, and to do that, he had an axe of
silver, and the wedge and saw were of silver and the mallet of copper. So
he chopped the wood small; stayed there in the house and had good meat
and drink, but never saw anyone but the tabby-cat and her servants. Once
she said to him, "Go and mow my meadow, and dry the grass," and gave him
a scythe of silver, and a whetstone of gold, but bade him deliver them
up again carefully. So Hans went thither, and did what he was bidden,
and when he had finished the work, he carried the scythe, whetstone,
and hay to the house, and asked if it was not yet time for her to give
him his reward. "No," said the cat, "you must first do something more
for me of the same kind. There is timber of silver, carpenter's axe,
square, and everything that is needful, all of silver, with these build
me a small house." Then Hans built the small house, and said that he
had now done everything, and still he had no horse. Nevertheless the
seven years had gone by with him as if they were six months. The cat
asked him if he would like to see her horses? "Yes," said Hans. Then she
opened the door of the small house, and when she had opened it, there
stood twelve horses, such horses, so bright and shining, that his heart
rejoiced at the sight of them. And now she gave him to eat and drink,
and said, "Go home, I will not give thee thy horse away with thee; but
in three days' time I will follow thee and bring it." So Hans set out,
and she showed him the way to the mill. She had, however, never once
given him a new coat, and he had been obliged to keep on his dirty old
smock-frock, which he had brought with him, and which during the seven
years had everywhere become too small for him. When he reached home,
the two other apprentices were there again as well, and each of them
certainly had brought a horse with him, but one of them was a blind one,
and the other lame. They asked Hans where his horse was. "It will follow
me in three days' time." Then they laughed and said, "Indeed, stupid Hans,
where wilt thou get a horse?" "It will be a fine one!" Hans went into
the parlour, but the miller said he should not sit down to table, for
he was so ragged and torn, that they would all be ashamed of him if any
one came in. So they gave him a mouthful of food outside, and at night,
when they went to rest, the two others would not let him have a bed,
and at last he was forced to creep into the goose-house, and lie down
on a little hard straw. In the morning when he awoke, the three days
had passed, and a coach came with six horses and they shone so bright
that it was delightful to see them! and a servant brought a seventh as
well, which was for the poor miller's boy. And a magnificent princess
alighted from the coach and went into the mill, and this princess was
the little tabby-cat whom poor Hans had served for seven years. She asked
the miller where the miller's boy and drudge was? Then the miller said,
"We cannot have him here in the mill, for he is so ragged; he is lying
in the goose-house." Then the King's daughter said that they were to
bring him immediately. So they brought him out, and he had to hold his
little smock-frock together to cover himself. The servants unpacked
splendid garments, and washed him and dressed him, and when that was
done, no King could have looked more handsome. Then the maiden desired
to see the horses which the other apprentices had brought home with
them, and one of them was blind and the other lame. So she ordered the
servant to bring the seventh horse, and when the miller saw it, he said
that such a horse as that had never yet entered his yard. "And that is
for the third miller's boy," said she. "Then he must have the mill,"
said the miller, but the King's daughter said that the horse was there,
and that he was to keep his mill as well, and took her faithful Hans
and set him in the coach, and drove away with him. They first drove to
the little house which he had built with the silver tools, and behold
it was a great castle, and everything inside it was of silver and gold;
and then she married him, and he was rich, so rich that he had enough
for all the rest of his life. After this, let no one ever say that anyone
who is silly can never become a person of importance.
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Xavier  Xavier is offline
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My comments on the card


Here are my thoughts on the card, in no particular order:

* On the card’s picture, the cat-princess replaces the traditional dog. However, the cat plays a very different role in the story than the traditional dog. In the Rider-Waite, the dog was a playful follower of the fool, while in more historical decks (Marseille), the dog was agressive towards the fool, symbolising the society which rejects the fool. Here, on the other hand, the cat is not rejecting Hans, or even following him. It is the cat which is active in this story, who empowers Hans.

* On the other hand, the sequence where Hans has to eat and sleep outside because he is too ragged, translates marvelously the concept of “fool being rejected by society”

* On the picture, Hans looks more focussed on reality (he looks at the landscape in front of him) than the Rider-Waite fool (who looks at the sky)

* The idea of "new beginning" sometimes associated with the fool can very much be found in the story – twice! First, when he leaves to serve the princess cat for 7 years. Secondly, when he marries the princess and becomes rich.

* The fool here never questions what he is told – for good or bad (he falls in the trick of his comanions in the cavern, he gets rewarded for following the princess's orders)

* But there is subtlety: at the same time, Hans is stubborn and doesn’t listen to anyone saying he won’t make it. He only listens to anything optimistic, and is rewarded, for doing so.

* In the same vein, this deck’s fool embodies the idea of passivity (he is never actually managing his life), something that is not that obvious in traditional decks.

* Time flies for this fool, he never seems to be bored, even when he has to accomplish repetitive chores. This is quite different from some conceptions of the fool, seen as fleeing society because he doesn’t fit in, because he can’t be bothered with work. A parallel can be traced with homeless people. Many people think “they wouldn’t live like that if they were ready to take a job”, while many homeless people long for a normal, working life, but simply don’t have the chance.

Xavier
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The details in this version of the story are quite intriguing. It almost makes me want to pick apart each symbol, similar to what you do when trying to interpret a dream.

3 animals mentioned:
horse- stamina, freedom, nobility
cat- guardianship, magic, sensuality
goose/geese- being watchful, swift, winds, happiness

3 instruments mentioned:
bassoon woodwind ??not found; not even clarinet/flute
fiddle string ??harmony in the home
trumpet brass ??a warning; getting your attention

3 tasks mentioned:
chop wood- 4 tools named (3 silver and 1 gold)
cut grass/hay- 2 tools named (1 gold, 1 silver)
build house- 2 tools and material (all silver)
Did the wood he chopped in task #1 become the silver timber given here?

gold- valuable self-discovery
silver- intuition, understated confidence

12 horses in the cat's stable
months or signs in the year

1 brother brings lame horse

1 brother brings blind horse

coach pulled by 6 horses; bringing the 7th
week

I'll be popping back in to add what I find that grabs my attention.
**Dream Moods online dictionary
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My observations


I feel a bit like the Fool as I start this deck study because I am heading out and unsure where I am going to end up or how I am going to get my "horse."

For the story I am struck by a couple of things.

First is the attitude the others had of Hans. The Fool is often on that is taken for granted and never given much significance. I am struck by how often I think little of the Fool card. Oh sure I love the little guy but I always seem to condescend to it and think of it more of an unformed opportunity than as a card of intrinsic meaning like say the High Priestess.

Second, Hans was given the choice to simply say at home and not do anything and there was a sense that it would have been the safer, easier, more comfortable choice as the story implied that he would always have a home at the mill. Sure it might have been in the Goose house but there are times when I have seen others and myself choose a poor option rather than risk loss for a better one.

Third, after he had served the clothes that he had were too small. I like the idea that the fool sets out and when he comes back he is bigger than when he left. He has grown is some way and shows his previous way of life was smaller. There is always a sense of hope and potential in the Fool that will result in growth that may be uncomfortable and unfashionable.

Fourth, Those lazy apprentices! The Donald would fire them both! Imagine the choice the Miller had, Humm, which is the better horse the LAME horse or the BLIND horse. They came back thinking that Hans would not ever return with a horse of any merit that they thought their sorry excuse for a horse was enough to win the mill.

Fifth, those how have gone through a profound change are not recognized and still seen as foolish. I had this experience when I returned home from living overseas. None in my family and friends had any idea the profound influence living in another country for three years had had on my sense of identity and life purpose. I wasn't sent to the goose house but it was not a fun couple of weeks of reverse culture shock.

Lastly I am left with the proverb, "He who dares, wins." I have no clue where I heard it but it is powerful and confronts and challenges me nearly every day.

Onyx.
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The innocence and trust of this particular Fool remind me of the story of Sadko, in this deck symbolizing the Page of Cups. Never thought of those two cards as connected before.

M_M~
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The myths about the legendary lord mayor of London Dick Whittington comes to my mind as well. He was supposed to have a black cat.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Whittington
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