The Fool’s Journey, Part Three

Today, I’m continuing with the fool’s journey. Those of you who want to catch up can do so here:

  1. Let’s go on The Fool’s Journey.
  2. The Fool’s Journey, Part Two.
When we left our fool, he’d become a hermit. He went to a cave, a man cave, or on vacation to sort some things out. He understands that everything he’s done up to this point brought him to this point. He knows there are consequences for his actions as well as rewards. He is successful at his pondering, but he can’t leave until he realizes one more thing.
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The Wheel of Fortune teaches our fool that he cannot control everything. He influences the world he lives in, but sometimes the world influences back. For a writer, this can be an actual occurence, but in the fool’s journey it’s more like a realization.

The Wheel brings famine, volcanoes, acts of God, and other things to bear. The fool has to do the best he can under these circumstances. It can also bring benefits, like promotions, winning the lottery, or choosing the right horse in the Derby.

Words associated with the Wheel are; harvest, inevitability, prosperity, destiny, fate, change, and particularly sudden change.

This card varies more than any other from deck to deck. There aren’t really any standards to point out.

To go back to an earlier example, Sheriff Brody was living as a hermit. He never asked for a killer shark to invade his new life and threaten his solitude.

I suppose there is a story somewhere that could end with the realization that the Wheel brings. I’m pretty sure several started right here though. For some reason, I’m stuck on movies during this post. The ones that come to mind are Dante’s Peak and Twister. The main characters were involved in their own versions of hermitage, and life changed the course of events for them.

Our fool leaves his hermitage, and wanders once more. He is pondering this newfound knowledge and realizes one more thing.

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The fool ponders his new knowledge until he realizes that he must take responsibility for his own actions. The Justice card reminds him that he is where is based upon his actions. Justice tells him to make amends for those actions where it is appropriate. Justice also reminds him that when he makes decisions from now on, he needs to remember the affect his decisions have on others.

Words associated with the Justice card are realism, reality, fairness, objectivity, analysis, criticism, and responsibility. Justice is usually depicted with a sword and a scale. I like the fact that my card also includes an owl.

For writers, will your main character learn from Justice and improve, or will he return to the older and easier way of the Chariot. I never watched the show, but I loved the idea behind it. In Breaking Bad, a chemistry teacher becomes a meth cooker. I see the failure of the Justice card at work.

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The fool comes across The Hanged Man, and is shocked by what he sees. He’s saddened even. He discovers that the hanged man isn’t dead. His legs form a cross, and he’s upside down. The fool thinks about his own life being turned upside down. The hanged man is bound and gagged, much like the fool has been.

This is the fool facing his deepest fear, his failure to obtain the one thing he wants most in life. The fool realizes that he is the hanged man. He’s no longer sad, he is simply suspended. The fool understands that he must let go of some things to obtain others.

Words associated with The Hanged Man are; sacrifice, letting go, surrender, and acceptance.

The only constant symbol among decks is the image of a cross somewhere. I like the fact that mine has apples in it. They represent knowledge to me, and that says a lot about this part of the fool’s journey.

This point represents what I like to think of as “a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do”. It’s that moment of realization. In many stories the main character symbolically burns his house, or blows up his mine before leaving to do what has to be done.

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You knew it was coming, right? All good main characters must face death. Most of the time, it’s a spiritual thing, but there have been some pretty good stories where actual death was on the line.

Death represents a change. Our fool is going to cast aside childish things to grow as a man. (Or woman. It’s your story to plug your characters into.) Maybe he sells his drag racer, the one that brought him fame and street credit as a young man. He uses the money to make a downpayment on a house for his wife and children. The old fool dies, and a newer and better fool emerges.

Death is usually a skeletal figure on horseback with a sickle. He is trampling a king under his horse’s hooves. My deck is different, but the sickle is still there. Terms associated with the Death card are; Precursor to change, making way for the new, regeneration, out with the old and in with the new.

Think of The Hanged Man and Death like a butterfly’s cocoon. It feels like the end, but it’s really the beginning of something better.

Billionaire playboy Tony Stark is captured by terrorists and shoved in a cave. Life as he knows it is over. Iron Man emerges from the cave, and Tony’s life is better as a result. This isn’t just Tony’s escape, it’s a complete transformation.

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The next stop on the fool’s journey is Temperance. Once again, my deck took some artistic license, but I like the Fferyllt anyway. I used the hagstones in her rafters in one of my stories.

This lesson is all about balance, temperance, equilibrium, even bringing together opposites to create balance. This would be a good point in a story to create the team. People with different skills come together to make something better than the sum of its parts.

This is a good point to remind writers that everything in tarot has a double meaning. If you’re writing about the bad guy, this could be about imbalance, and tearing things apart. Anakin/Darth Vader comes to mind.

I hope everyone’s enjoying this look at the fool’s journey. I see this lasting about 3 more posts, and there’s more interesting stuff ahead.

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