A Feminist Tarot: The Fool

I think sometimes we’re addicted to new beginnings.  We romanticize them, especially when we imagine the hero of the story to be the emancipated woman breaking free to follow a passion.  It’s an inspirational archetype, especially when we feel particularly aware of all the cultural restrictions under which we all live.

At first glance, there would seem to be something inherently feminist in the idea of the Fool, carrying all she needs as she takes the first steps on a new journey.

But what of the journey after that?

I’ve started over many a time in my life, and I’ve watched friends and family do the same more times than I can count.  And I’ve also watched myself and everyone else repeat the same mistakes and follow our hearts right back to the same situations we thought we were walking away from.  Clearly, too many of us don’t know the difference between freedom and avoidance.

I also suspect that too many of us have never learned a better way of dealing with circumstances less than ideal.  The heroine escapes and the princess is freed from her prison, but the fairy tales don’t tell us enough tales of women who actually work to change anything.  Yes, sometimes removing ourselves to a better situation is the best solution to our struggles, but I think too often we choose the escape because we don’t know how to approach the alternative.

The thing about the Fool card is that it doesn’t tell us anything about the journey besides the fact that one has taken the first step.  In fact, many have pointed out that the traditional iconography carries a bit of a warning: the sky-gazing fool may be about to walk off a cliff.  But I think what’s more important than realizing that we need to watch where we’re going is that we need to think about why we’re starting over.   Is this an escape to a possibly nonexistent paradise?  Or is this an expedition to a trove of useful treasure?  Is this a one way trip, or a journey we mean to return from with better tools and better skills and a vision for building the future?


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