Thursday, 17 May 2012

Card Comparison: The Fool

Left: Aquatic Tarot © Andreas Schröter,
Right: Lord of the Rings Tarot, Terry Donaldson, 
© U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
When I popped over to the @TABItarot blog yesterday, I was reminded how different styles of Tarot decks can offer new insights and change your interpretation of the cards.

Take for example the Fool images on the left; one is the well-known Rider Waite Smith (RWS) based image, the other is from the Lord of the Rings (LOTR) Tarot.

The Fool is one of my favourite cards in the Tarot; it's an image of enthusiasm, optimism, light-heartedness and promising new beginnings.

But my recent acquisition of the LOTR Tarot gave me a bit of a shock, when I saw the creepy shadow creature Gollum representing the Fool. The text on the card says: "Gollum, by a pool of water, considers the many possibilities open to him." 

This isn't the regular Fool I'm accustomed to, who's just started on his journey, by daylight, open-minded and carefree. Instead, the LOTR image depicts a gloomy figure at night pondering his options with a dead fish in his hands. The mood is sombre, foreboding with a hint of fear and loathing.

The companion book offers an interesting explanation, why Gollum was chosen for this image (personally, I would have chosen Frodo, who embarks light-heartedly with his friends on a journey to destroy the ring): "Gollum belongs...on neither 'side', neither that of good nor that of bad...Gollum has his own agenda, his own individual sense of right and wrong..."

Whilst I do understand somewhat the reasoning behind the choice of Gollum as the Fool, it is also apparent how much his image can change the meaning of the Fool in a reading:

RWS Fool: new beginnings, optimism, carefree, happy-go-lucky, open-mindedness, adventure, journey
LOTR Fool: lack of movement and direction, dark and gloomy thoughts, fears, no prospects, bleak outlook

What do you make of the LOTR Fool? How would this image change your reading? 

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  1. I think Frodo would have been appropriate as the fool too. The idea of him setting out on a journey is very like how the fool is depicted in the Tarot.

    When i had first started trying to understand the Tarot cards, i remember thinking that the fool was used in the same way as the word fool is used today...naive but in a negative way, or simply lacking any common sense.

    So Gollum would fit the bill for that "version" of the fool, as it lacks common sense to be addicted to anything, never mind being addicted to something which slowly destroys us (the ring)

    Great blog :-) thanks for sharing

    James Battersby

    1. Hi James, thanks for stopping by! Yes, I also thought at first that the Fool represented folly, stupidity, naivety and ignorance. In some cases that may be true, but for me the Fool represents a light-hearted innocence, without which he would never be able to start something new without fear.

      You've also raised an interesting point about Gollum's destructive addiction to the ring; in the traditional meaning, the Fool isn't addicted to anything. Great thinking, and thank you for sharing! ;)


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