RWS Fool Opposite Marseille Fool


Why does the RWS fool stand in opposing direction of TdM fool?


Umm....Pamela Coleman Smith wanted to have a brand new start on the new tarot she was painting?

I'm just taking a stab here, but the Fool on the older decks was originally associated with pilgrimages, going to towns & such. But the RW Fool is stepping out on his own, heading into true wilderness. Maybe a new facing direction was called for?


HudsonGray said:
I'm just taking a stab here, but the Fool on the older decks was originally associated with pilgrimages, going to towns & such. But the RW Fool is stepping out on his own, heading into true wilderness. Maybe a new facing direction was called for?
Oooo, Hudson, I like that! XTAX


I wonder if there is a reason behind it.

Hudson Gray: The Bateleur (card I) is more the one who would go and visit towns and such. The Bateleur was a minstrel. And I think that the Hermit would be more associated with a pilgrimage than the Fool.

The important difference between these two cards is mainly the fact that the Fool starts the journey in the Rider Waite deck. He even has a number.

The Fool in the Marseille deck is un-numbered, and he ends the Tarot journey (when we speak of the structure of the Tarot of Marseille). He can be found behind each arcanum though - he can help us understand where we are all going in the end.

He is just following the sun that is rising in the east. With no particular goal, no objectives. Just following... his nose, I suppose... guided by his instinct that pushes him on. He's walking along a path. And I suspect that his instinct tells him not to jump off cliffs if he comes across one. It's a survival instinct, I suppose.


There was one online site I ran across comparing the fools from the oldest decks & how they'd changed. The article brought up historical info about the Fool & his spoon, about the Fool going on Pilgrimage during Lent & in later decks, the spoon disappeared into a plain stick (no lent, no trying to scoop food out of pots on the sly from a distance, etc.). It was immensly interesting & I've tried to find the site again but completely lost it (our 'history' section was dumped, so I could do no backtracking). That's were I got that from, but I don't know if it was accurate to tarot or not since I haven't found anything to confirm it elsewhere online. But it was sure an interesting article (and well written).


HudsonGray and Diana,
Looking at the TdM fool in light of Hadar's idea about facing right = moving forward into the future, the RWS facing left = pondering the past...doesn't make sense to me, quite Hermit-y. I am left wondering why the about face? Your ideas are right on, but the TdM fool direction makes more sense to me... at least until I find out why they pointed him opposit.e


An interesting thread.

There are many symbolic differences. In RWS the Fool is seen from the left, ostensibly the yin or feminine side. In the Marseilles he is seen from the right - the supposed yan or masculine side. Of course this is overlaid symbolism and may have nothing to do with contemporary meanings.

I think the Fool in the Marseilles could just as easily be construed as walking off a cliff as the RWS Fool if you look at the image closely.

There is also a visible Sun in the RWS image and not in the Marseilles. The Fool has an exposed buttock in the Marseilles, not in the RWS. Both characters are in different costumes of course. The RWS Fool carries a flower, whereas Le Mat has a staff in the hand that is not carrying the bag. Have you noticed how Le Mat’s left hand is oddly turned over his right shoulder? That is quite a strange position, and what does that mean, if anything? Le Mat has a beard where as the RWS Fool does not. The Fool looks younger, more innocent than Le Mat

I have always seen the RWS Fool as not being at the beginning or the end. Different decks have their own approach. Different authors also put Le Mat at the beginning of the journey, some at the end. Just a cursory look through the Encyclopedia of Tarot shows many different interpretations of both Le Mat and the RWS Fool.

It all seems to depend on history and which school you decide to follow, I guess. I see the fool as being the spirit of freedom that comes from being in a state of grace. Amadeus . Quite blessed, with the peace and joy which comes from that. In this life it is always transitory.


Nice post, Moongold. :) I, too, see the RWS, any Fool for that matter, as unattached from the rest of the majors. For now, I don't see if direction really has significance...looking at the Knight of Swords who is charging ...left into the past?


If we're on the subject, what is the significance that in the RWS the Fool begins the journey and in the Marseille he ends it?


closrapexa: I just want to tell you that there are some students of the Marseilles who think the Fool takes the journey....

But they are wrong. It doesn't make sense at all. If I had the money to go to Melbourne next year for the International Conference, I would have asked to give a talk on this and prove it. But I can't even afford a new Tarot deck, let alone a trip to Australia!!!

And when Tommy says above: I see the Fool unattached from the Majors.... how can someone unattached do a Journey through the majors he is not attached to???

As to the significance of the RWS Fool starting the journey.... I am not sure that this is even true. As far as I can see, it is Rachel Pollack, plus some other American tarologists, who got this idea spread around. Kudos for her. A very intelligent woman with lots of spunk. I have great admiration for her, although I don't agree with much that she says.

But everyone latched on to this interpretation and never questioned it.

Too many people accept ideas without questioning them. Just like with the "Year cards" and "Soul cards". They are given a system to work them out... but they never question what the system is based on.

How many people have ever even asked "Why is the Fool called a Fool?"