0. The Fool

paris-0
Paris

Meaning:  The raw primal state of humanity.  The self stripped bare.  Basic equality of all beings.  Crossing into the unknown.  Leaving things behind.


Reversed:   Delusions of grandeur.  Missing something obvious.  Out of touch with the situation.  Unable to adapt.

Marseilles
Marseilles

Sforza-Visconti
Sforza-Visconti

Charles VI

The Fool, at times the Beggar, and here Le Fouis, the Filthy.  Purposely absent from the numbered, it is mysteriously accorded card zero, and this card is often without a number at all.  In the Paris example the usual space for the card number is curiously crazed, as though a broken mirror.  And it is this less common version of the Fool, as a Jester, that is the one immortalized in our standard playing cards, the French suits.

Through its versions, the Fool represents a raw condition, a person who is out in the open, exposed.  This can be said to be on the road, and this card is often called a Wanderer for this reason.  One beginning on a journey is often thought of as young, but the Fool is not a child, he could be any age.  He is certainly crossing from one place to the next as he does age.  Sometimes he has a dog or a creature nipping at his heels, not so much reminding him of the teeth of what he leaves behind, but of his raw inner animal, the memory of his primal, persistent self.  Perhaps a reference to Diogenes of Sinope, who lived and slept with the dogs, or Lazarus, who was licked by dogs, revealing a compassion dogs possess that humans have a bad habit of restraining.  The Fool in the Charles VI deck is unique, he is a half dressed giant, with a slingshot, surrounded by children who climb around and gathering up stones for him.

Likened to a homeless man, or with feathers in his hair a wild man living in the forest, the Paris deck strikes a subtle win by portraying the Fool as a Jester eyeing the head of his Ninny, a poke at the comedic duplicity of human life, or how little removed we are from a more basic state.