I find symbolism fascinating. Perhaps that’s the reason I became interested in the subject of metaphor and maybe that’s why I like the tarot too.
Not that I believe I can tell the future or anything, but I love the way the symbols can mean so many different things to different people.
There’s really no end to the many ways the pictures can be interpreted and I’m intrigued by the mystery that surrounds the cards.
No one knows for sure where or when or why they originated but they can be traced back at least as far as the mid 15th century and seem to have found their way to Europe via Egypt and Italy. It’s believed they started as a set of playing cards but over the centuries they’ve become many different things to different people.
Perhaps the stereo typical view is that of the psychic who uses the cards as a tool to divine the future.
To others they’re nothing more than a light hearted way to pass the time, a party trick designed to tell fantasy futures in much the same way that newspapers give out astrology tips to the masses.
And others appreciate the tarot as a form of beautiful and interesting art. There are so many different decks out there and many of them are visually stunning.
There’s another meaning inherent in the cards though, and that’s the one that fascinates me the most.
The tarot actually consists of two sets of cards, the Major and the Minor Arcana.
Running through the Major Arcana is a story of Alchemy. Not the turning of base metal into gold, but progress of the soul to a higher understanding.
The journey begins with the zero card which depicts the Fool as he sets off on his path towards spiritual advancement. The Fool is representative of each one of us and the journey we take through life and the choices we make. The characters and situations we encounter along the way are depicted in the cards and are symbolic of the stages we can pass through and learn from, if we choose to do so.
I’ve been trying to gain an understanding of this aspect of the cards for a long time now and a while ago I thought it would help me if I wrote a story based on my own interpretation of the cards. the following is the beginning of that story.
But before I begin, and just so you know, it could be a man or a woman, or a boy or a girl who takes centre stage in the story that follows and it really is of no matter or mind, because there’s never been anyone in the whole of existence who’s completely one thing or another all of the time.
The Journey Begins
It was the opportunity of a lifetime, in fact the opportunity was a lifetime.
One small step through the curtain to centre stage and the journey was underway.
Even the smallest step can herald the start of the greatest of journeys, and this journey would lead into the great unknown for sure. To some it might have appeared that the young man was standing at the edge of a precipice, precariously balanced, with no awareness of the dangers that might lurk ahead.
And they’d be right in a way, for like many young people he had no respect for danger and no fear of the unknown.
Not many of us travel with no baggage at all, but he travelled lighter than most. The little he did have was tied to the end of a stick and carried lightly across his right shoulder as if he could drop it at any moment and not even notice.
He seemed unaware of the journey ahead, being entirely caught up in the moment as he usually was. He stopped to smell the roses as he passed, even picking one with his free left hand, careless of the thorns that threatened to pierce his skin.
Some thought him an irresponsible young man, fickle of heart, flippant of mind and always keen to fool around.
Some had even told him straight to his face ‘You’ll amount to nothing’ they’d say. ‘You’re head’s empty’.
‘You’ll come to no good’.
He didn’t much mind amounting to nothing, he felt no need to amount to anything more than he already was, because what he already was had so far been quite good enough for him.
He cared not for warnings or the cries of those who begged him to ‘take care’ and ‘look where you’re going’. He lived solely in the present moment because in his experience that is where everything tends to happen.
He carried his head high and with his nose in the air and it seemed he had no need to concern himself with the ground beneath his feet.
At first glance he looked stylishly dressed and worldly-wise, yet any truly wise observer would have noted the pure naiveté that was barely hidden beneath his lavish tunic.
He knew nothing of caution and if there was a wise bone in him somewhere that warned of hazards ahead he bore it no mind.
It wasn’t that he chose to ignore it because how can you ignore something you haven’t even acknowledged is there?
So the next carefree step that he took, took him right over the edge, and yes he was used to fooling but now he was falling and it all happened so fast he had no chance to think or to feel or even to wonder if this was the end.
Which amazingly it wasn’t, because somehow, against all the odds, he’d managed to land on his feet.
Maybe it was his innocence that had acted as a charm (and we do know that innocence can be charming, so who knows), but he found himself virtually unscathed and in a place he’d never been before.
He looked up to where he thought he’d just fallen from, but there was no cliff edge to be seen, nor was there even a cliff, just a sky that went on and on and on …
To be continued …