□ PATH COLOR: Bright Pale Yellow
□ RELATED SOUND: E-Natural
□ MATERNAL LETTER: Air
□ ESOTERIC TITLE: The Spirit of Aether.
0 THE FOOL I
THIRTY-TWO PATHS OF WISDOM: The Eleventh Path is the Scintillating Intelligence, because it is the essence of that curtain which is placed close to the order of the disposition, and this is a special dignity given to it that it may be able to stand before the Face of the Cause of Causes.
The Path of THE FOOL connects Kether, the Source of All, with Chokmah, the first activity toward manifestation. Aleph is assigned to this Path, the letter designated symbolic of absolute unity by the Zohar. As a word (Aleph) means ox, which has been interpreted in a variety of ways. Gareth Knight, for example, suggests that for the most earthy of beasts to be applied at this exalted level of the Tree means that "the Spirit's aim is rooted in Earth."227 Paul Case essentially agreed, although his approach was more broad. He called the ox a symbol of the motive power in agriculture, and equated agriculture with civilization. Thus, he described the ox as the life-power, creative energy and "the power at work in all forms of human adaptation and modification of natural conditions."278 Crowley, on the other hand, concentrated on the letter's shape, said to represent a plow-share: "thus," he says "the significance is primarily Phallic."279 Cynics may suggest that Crowley saw phalluses everywhere he looked, despite the high philosophical tone of his argument. Yet it is true that only by reference to sexuality do we come to the slightest glimmer of understanding of the Universe.
THE FOOL demands multi-faceted and fluid interpretation. It is certainly the most difficult and profound card of the entire Tarot deck. Emanating from Kether, it borders on the source of the Cosmos, the Ain Soph, the Limitless Light which is not. Thus, we recognize that whatever can be said about Kether can be said about the subjective effect of its principles on the eleventh Path.
The eleventh Path is the Fiery or Scintillating Intelligence. It touches a Limitless Light which is darkness to us, that Fiery Darkness which is at once the Primum Mobile, the possibility of motion or vibration, and the First Perception or Will of the One having the potential for activity. Here, again, we return to the circuitous idea that the Primal Creative Energy of the Universe acts upon itself to emanate the Cosmos. The most concrete way in which this can be described is to say that from nothingness comes the potential for thought. Then thought appears and emanates mind, the vessel which contains thought. THE FOOL is the initial potential for that thought which transcends reason.
Almost everyone has had the experience of feeling that they have touched some special reality in sleep, a lesson which on waking seemed absurd at best. We may recall a few words which, when translated from the sleeping to the waking condition appear absolute nonsense. In fact, any idea which is disconsonent with our waking reality is usually dismissed. Such ideas may be dangerous and disruptive to our perceptions of self and environment, so we put them aside. On the other hand, a great deal of the practical Great Work involves the assimilation of concepts which contradict our mundane ideas of what is "real," and what is not.
Let it be clearly understood that THE FOOL, THE MAGICIAN and THE HIGH PRIESTESS (Paths touching Kether) must be approached with a certain good natured whimsy. As we realize that the experience of Kether means the total annihilation of Self as we conceive it, we also see the irony of our attempt to grasp such refined principles from an earthly perspective. We are, as Dion Fortune once noted, little children attempting to spell God. However, once we recognize the impossibility of approaching the highest levels of the Universe directly, we are driven forcibly into the key principle of the Mysteries, As Above, so Below. We look into that which is "below" as a mirror reflection of that which is "above."
Every Key is, in fact, fourfold. And while THE FOOL is usually discussed in terms of the Highest Spirit of Atziluth, it also appears in Briah, Yetzirah and Assiah. Thus, somewhere in our basest and most comprehensible existence, we will find a correlate to the upper activity of THE FOOL. The process is a kind of spiritual detective work. We look deeply into Malkuth and find Kether!
This is the essence of what Teillard de Chardin, the great modern Catholic mystic, was describing. The Divine Spirit is all that we know: we live within it, we breathe it, it is ourselves. Every thing is an expression of the energy symbolized by THE FOOL, which is the beginning of all, as Aleph is the beginning of the alphabet.
To Aleph, the first of the maternal letters, is attributed Air which, in this sense means the Life-Breath. And while most people believe that the East places more importance on the function of breath than does the West, that is only true of exoteric religion. In Western esoteric techniques, as in the East, breath is everything, both practically and philosophically. In terms of the Tree of Life and Tarot, this may be expressed in another way. We described THE MAGICIAN as relating to "words," meaning vibratory patterns underlying manifestation. It is the power of breath, however, which expels the sound. THE FOOL activates THE MAGICIAN.
Crowley points out another way in which the attribution of Air may be considered. He describes the nothingness which is air as a vacuum, a fascinating concept when related to the Tarot number of THE FOOL, zero. The zero is a vacuum of fertile nothingness; it is the Universal Egg of Spirit, the Egg of Akasha. Mathematically, zero is the sum of plus one (male) minus one (female). Thus the egg of the Cosmos is a fertilized ovum of undefined sexuality. It is neither male nor female, but is the potential for both. THE FOOL is the androgenous energy which differentiates into the dramatis personae of the other twenty-one keys.
Unfortunately, the correct position of THE FOOL at the beginning of the Keys, has been the subject of dispute. In some works it has been shown placed in the irrational position of next to the last card, i.e., as the card of Shin, letter of Maternal Fire. However, this placement appears to have been a purposeful attempt to conceal the real mystery of THE FOOL from the profane. Today the sequence of Keys described in the Golden Dawn Cipher Manuscripts is generally accepted, as it was by the inventors of the three modern decks illustrated here. THE FOOL belongs on the eleventh Path of Aleph, and nowhere else.
It has been suggested that the key to the function and order of the Cosmos is imbedded in Aleph as it interacts with Lamed. The Zohar, which describes Aleph as absolute unity, provides equally interesting material on Lamed. That letter is discussed as central to the word (Melekh)
meaning King.2*0 This points to Tiphareth as the central, directing force of Microprosopus, the "Lesser Countenance." This is the King over existence as we know it, its interaction of energies being symbolized by the letters Mem, Lamed, Caph and by the corresponding Tarot cards, THE HANGED MAN (n), JUSTICE (b) and the WHEEL OF FORTUNE (D).
THE HANGED MAN and the WHEEL OF FORTUNE are the Stabilizing Activating and Stabilizing Formative extremes (see Figure 29) on the Tree of Life between the Personality and the Higher Self. They are exact opposites. THE HANGED MAN is the water of Universal consciousness, while the WHEEL OF FORTUNE, Caph-Jupiter, means the very principle of manifestation. Thus, Lamed may be said to effect the perfect balance between the lower creative principle and the consciousness on which it acts. In this we know that Lamed means ox goad, the pointed rod which spurs on the ox, i.e., Aleph.
Paul Case offers another explanation. He writes that the word H^N "represents the first outflow of spiritual influence (k), effecting a continual equilibrium of forces in action (b) resulting in the positive expression of the creative thought (£3) of the Universal Mind."281
This is all very complicated indeed, and one can all too easily become bogged down, if not actually deceived by the over-zealous manipulation of letter and number symbols. What is clear, however, is that the sages who produced Qabalistic documents such as the Pentateuch and the Zohar expected us to go through this process. Thus, we must run the risk of dead-end reasoning in attempting to understand the subtle meanings imbedded in the texts. Is it stretching a point to suggest that implicit in the letters bH is all that is above and below, viewing Aleph as the One, with Lamed as the central balancing energy between the One and that which it projects?
At any event, these are sorts of ideas which, when applied to the Tarot images, are likely to provide special insights. When we know the Qabalistic implications of the letter Aleph and apply it to the image of THE FOOL, the correspondence of picture and ideas triggers something unconscious in us. This may be particularly the case with the Golden Dawn FOOL, one of the Order's most unusual contributions to Tarot art. The child is intended to be Harpo-crates, which in the Egyptian (Heru-p-khart) literally means "Horus the Child."282 Heru is also written Hru, known as the "Great Angel of the Tarot."
There are a few Gods which incorporate so many diverse ideas as does Harpocrates: He is the Child God; he is the God of Silence; he is the God of beginnings, he is the God of the Sun at its dawning. He is also the son of Isis and Osiris, although it is not yet in that capacity that he is shown on this Path. He is their Child yet to be born. He is all potential! He is the expression of the very meaning of the God Name of Kether, rPiiN (Eheieh) which is I will be. So in the Golden Dawn card, the child is about to pluck the rose. In Waite's card the Fool is about to walk over a cliff. Waite describes his figure as stationary, though it indicates the act of walking.
Because of the importance of Horus-Harpocrates to an understanding of THE FOOL in the Golden Dawn tradition, we must briefly consider the origins of his cult. The Child Horus developed from an earlier God, also known as Horus. This earlier Horus (actually a group of God forms, as was the Child Horus himself) was one of the first Gods to be worshipped generally across Egypt. He was represented with the head of a hawk, suggesting that his nature related to the greatest heights of the Heavens,283 an idea which would place Horus comfortably on the eleventh Path. But the attributes of the early Horus-Gods were assumed in late dynastic times by the Child who represented the beginning of all sequences, including the beginning of the day with the Sun. So Horus was related to Ra, and is most easily placed in Tiphareth. And once more, as in considering the , we find that we are moving between the eleventh Path and the sixth Sephira. The correlations are as profound as they are obtuse.
One other interesting point about Horus is that he was traditionally shown as a child with one lock of hair at the side, and a finger on his mouth as an infantile gesture. This gesture was misunderstood by the Greeks to be a "sign of silence," and when the God was given the Greek name Harpocrates, silence was a key attribute.284 However such attributions may have happened, whether by design or "accident" the symbolism fits remarkably. What could be more perfect than THE FOOL as silence prior to THE MAGICIAN who has been described as the first sound? Here one must believe that symbol systems can evolve in accordance with truly universal archetypes.285
THE FOOL is, in fact, an archetype, as is the companion animal appearing in every version of the card. The Marseilles deck shows a brown dog tearing a hole in his master's pants leg; Waite represented a small white dog in the same essential pose as the Marseilles dog, though following playfully; Crowley's version, with the tiger "fawning about"286 The Fool, is the most curious. Finally, the Golden Dawn card shows a wolf on a leash being held by the small child whom we have equated with Harpocrates.
All of these cards make a symbolic statement about the relationship of the animal nature to the higher spiritual processes. It has also been suggested that the small dog is the intellect, man's faithful companion. The Golden Dawn and Crowley cards, however, offer a more complicated explanation.
The wolf in the Golden Dawn card is perhaps the most explicit in its symbolic statement, for from the earliest times the wolf has been considered a destroyer. And in the context of the eleventh Path, it is like the Fenris wolf which devoured Odin, Father of the Gods, what Manly Palmer Hall calls "those mindless powers of nature that overthrew the primitive creation."287
The implication is that the Creator's will to self expression holds in check that counter-energy which would otherwise destroy creation as it happened. Yet the wolf must eventually be unleashed, freed back into nature, destroying creation and returning it to the state from which it originally emerged, i.e., the Ain Soph Aur.
The child and wolf are the balance of creator-destroyer, and are the first statement in the Tarot of the principle that every thing contains its opposite, the real key to esoteric studies. The principle is especially important in relation to THE FOOL, a card in which Waite says "Many symbols of the Instituted Mysteries are summarized."288
Waite's discussion of the symbolism in his own cards was very cryptic, and it fell to Paul Case to explain the symbolic complexities woven into the Rider deck. He explains the Wheels of Spirit on the Fool's robe, the wand as a symbol of will, the wallet with an Eye of Horus, the rose meaning freedom from lower forms of desire, and the girdle of twelve ornaments suggesting the Zodiac.289 On the other hand, it is possible that in his enthusiasm, Case may describe more than Waite intended.
It is at least fortunate that Crowley, being a prolific writer, explained his own deck in great detail. The discussion of his version of THE FOOL is complicated and lengthy, drawing upon a variety of legends. To summarize, these are:
1. The Green Man-the very personification of spring.
2. The "Great Fool" of the Celts-this is the inspired madman who is also a savior.
3. The "Rich Fisherman": Percivale- Crowley calls the Parsifal legend
"the western form of the tradition of the Fool." Parsifal represents the foolishness of youth and innocence which, through its purity, achieves the Holy Grail.
4. The Crocodile-In. ancient Egypt the crocodile symbolized the great est creative energy, for the rather paradoxical reason that it was not believed to have the means of perpetuating its own species.
6. Zeus Arrhenothelus—a deliberate confusion of masculine and femin ine; the Divine Hermaphrodite.
7. Dionysus Zagreus. Bacchus Diphues -Zagreus was a horned deity torn apart by the Titans. His death symbolized initiation. Bacchus Diphues (meaning double-natured) was a bi-sexual God made mad by intoxication, and thus related to the idea of divine ecstasy.
8. Bahornet-according to Crowley, this is a form of the Bull-slaying
God, Mithras, worshipped by the Knights Templar as an ass-headed deity. He further associates Bahomet with Set, Saturn and Satan.
Crowley has included some reference to all of these ideas in his card, making it one of the most complicated in his deck. The horns on the male figure are those of Dionysus Zagreus; his green clothing is that of the Green Man of Spring; grapes at his feet refer to the ecstasy of Bacchus, the Crocodile is at his feet swimming "in the Nile." Other symbols included here are the dove of Venus and the vulture of Maat, both referring to the Godhead. All of these images are linked by the triple egg-shape created by the Caduceus in motion, and symbolizing the Ain Soph Aur.
Finally, one must call attention to the fact that while Crowley emphasizes Harpocrates on this Path, he represents that God most explicitly on the twentieth Path, JUDGMENT (what he calls The Aeon). It is thus implied that Shin-Fire is the fullest expression of that which began with Aleph-Air, and then Mem-Water.
Was this article helpful?