I can't help revisiting the Margarete Petersen Tarot study because I am so very taken with this deck. I bought the light bordered English version, and am doing all I can to acquire the now extremely rare wine-coloured German edition.
In spite of the respect I feel for those who have studied the MP before me, and very painstakingly and masterfully translated the German text of this extraordinary work, I have refrained from reading the insights of those whose understanding of Petersen's tarot I would
do well to study in my quest to deepen my own appreciation of this artist's vision. This because I don't wish to be influenced in my own halting exploration of these magical cards until my own efforts are spent, at which time I will avail myself of prior wisdom.
What I did notice is that Firemaiden, who encouraged me to invest in the whole Margarete Petersen, and not just the Majors, for which I am most grateful, started with a translation of Petersen's poem for the Fool.
I take the liberty, now, of transcribing from the English LWB the following:
You are young and far away from home.
A glittering crack,
Heaven, sun, and clouds,
And foaming waters.
The elements at play.
Risk finding the way to yourself.
Engage yourself where chaos begins,
Where you stand alone and without help
This is what I see:
The Fool, the seeker who doesn't yet know that she is searching, nor what she seeks, steps out of the swirling, primordial, albeit playful chaos of sky and water into being. She is conscious and aware, yet unaware of the world. She has crossed over from the unmanifest to the manifest. The abyss that opens up before her both descends and ascends. She has a choice. She can become aware of the world and what it holds following the guidance of her higher self, or forget that she is a spiritual being about to embark on a physical experience until she enters transition again at the end of her life.
She prances along unselfconsciously and confidently. Why shouldn't she? The griffin/eagle holds part of her garment in its beak, prepared to carry her aloft perhaps? Open any dictionary of symbols and the eagle either appears as an angel, a messenger of, if not a representation of the divine itself; or at the very least, a being of extraordinary power. In Petersen's Fool, is the eagle our higher consciousness? I appreciate the fact that she decided to replace the dog with the eagle. I think it was from this detail (in the first and only card I saw of this deck at the time) that I realized how powerfully Margarete's images would speak to me.
A human being's journey is always a solitary one. Perhaps others can travel alongside, but, when all is said and done, we come into existence alone and must pass into transition the same way. I do think we do have help, though; the help that comes from our very essence and is part of whatever intelligence governs the universe.
I have always considered each life a stage in the journey of finding a way to myself, so Petersen's Fool and her words resonate deeply within me. Finding "this way to yourself" is both, to my mind at least, the most important and deceptively simple task before us, because englightenment is possible. It isn't as though we are learning or discovering anything new, it is just a question of remembering.
MP's fool wears red, symbolizing both the life force that animates physicality, but also, perhaps, the sacrifices and whatever else "the flesh is heir to," as Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet
, that await us as we move through life.
Interesting also is the circle that frames this touching scene; a window or the lens of a periscope that allows us a view into another reality. This circle, can it signify that we (at least our souls) are eternal like the Godhead? What about the fact that half of the frame is silver and the other gold? Inside the circle, we see mountain peaks: the meeting place between heaven and earth? The place where gods of myth have always resided, at least in the human imagination? Or are we to understand them to be the center of the universe from which life (in the person of this fool) springs?
When I immerse myself in this card, I am filled with hope and joy. It encourages me to move forward, not foolishly or impetuously, but surrendering to my higher self. I often feel that we are all inclined to want to control everything too much, including every facet of our lives. This Fool reminds me that I don't have to be in control; that even if it scary and difficult to relinquish said control, it is absolutely necessary.
As to the sun. I turn to Western alchemy where the sun represents the ego of the alchemist, to be worked on and transformed, like the ego of each individual. I am put in mind also of Astrology which links the sun to individuality, the will, ego and personality, all of which are a product of consciousness which we must learn to master, since we are not alone in the world.
I see, now, looking at the card again, that the intense movement of the water and sky also points directly to the current of life.
In other words..., will I not be better off if I just go with the flow, and isn't that what this artist, through her dreams, is trying to tell me?
Please..., do join me. I know there are other Margarete Petersen tarot lovers in the seat right next to mine at AT.
P.S. I have noticed yet another thing about this image. Is there not a craggy face of a benevolent elder carved into the rock face of the cliff off which the Fool is about to step? Behind that face there seems to be a shape, much like a brain, criss-crossed with what looks like synaptic discharges...