September 17, 2004

Once a fool, always a fool

Playing cards have been part and parcel of the Western world since the 13th century, and possibly even longer. The history of tarot cards, in turn, is even more difficult to pin down. When we stop to consider that even in humanity's oldest cities games of strategy and chance were part and parcel of daily life, trying to assign a beginning to something as ubiquitous as a card game becomes even more difficult than it already is. However, for some games finding the beginning is actually quite easy. Magic the Gathering, for example, was introduced to the world July, 1993. Over the past eleven years there have been many expansions, rules changes, and other improvements, but the game still features cards printed in one of five colors along with artifacts and lands. True to the spirit of the original game, the most important part of Magic the Gathering is building a playable deck with just the right selection of strategies to reduce your opponent's score to zero before they can do the same to you. Magic the Gathering is a cutthroat game built from artistic cards with a wide variety of different powers, influences, and rule-bending attributes. "It's all in the cards," is true of Tarot, and it's also true of Magic. And so it is that when skimming over the list of childish, idiotic, fanciful and fantastic quizzes at Quizilla, I was both enchanted and amused to find a quiz associating personality with tarot cards. To no one's surprise, I'm sure, I am The Fool!

The Fool Card

Image by Mary DeLave
You are The Fool card. The Fool fearlessly begins a journey into the unknown. To do this, he does not regard the world he knows as firm and fixed. He has a reckless disregard for obstacles. In the Ryder-Waite deck, he is seen stepping off a cliff with his gaze on the sky, and a rainbow is there to catch him. In order to explore and expand, one must disregard convention and conformity. Those in the throes of convention look at the unconventional, non-conformist personality and think, "What a fool!" They lack the point of view to understand The Fool's actions. But The Fool has roots in tradition as one who is closest to the spirit world. In many tribal cultures, those born with strange and unusual character traits were held in awe. Shamans were people who could see visions and go on journeys that we now label hallucinations and schizophrenia. Those with physical differences had experience and knowledge that the average person could not understand. The Fool is God. The number of the card is zero, which when drawn is a perfect circle. This circle represents both emptiness and infinity. The Fool is not shackled by mountains and valleys or by his physical body. He does not accept the appearance of cliff and air as being distinct or real.
"What Tarot Card Are You?" -- Brought to you by Quizilla!