The Holy Fool (Fool II)

iBrian

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The subject of the True Fool has already been broached - but while searching for something from the Internet Book of Shadows on the corn-god, I found another interesting piece of writing on the subject of the Fool.

I'll paste it here, as it could be a very coule topic to continue the the subject of the Fool is a specific direction:
THE HOLY FOOL:
The Third member of the Triad
-some musings by: the Bard

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"Remember, the Moon is only half as big as the Earth, but it's twice as far away."
-Anonymous
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After some time musing on the concept of Goddess/God that is common in Wiccan (and most Neo-Pagan groups) and seeing the common theme of "things come in threes" in these belief systems, I fell to wondering "Why only the God and Goddess? If all things come in threes, where is the Third Aspect that should be there?"

So what is this Third Aspect? I feel it is the Holy Fool; the Prometheus who is the Trickster, the God (neuter) that rolls the dice. This also fills in certain holes in neo-Pagan Theology that have bothered me for some time, too.

First, we need to have a quick look at the Holy Fool in religious and/or cultural beliefs, both primitive and modern:

American Indian:
Aztec: Ueuecoyotl
Caddo: Coyote
Chinook: Coyote
Coos: Coyote
Haida: Raven
Hopi: Mudhead Kachina, Clown Kachina
Kiowa: Coyote
Navaho: Coyote
Nez Perce: Coyote
Omaha: Coyote, Rabbit, Iktinike, Orphan
Pueblo: Koshare
Sioux: Spider
Tillamook: Coyote
Tinglit: Raven
Winnebago: Rabbit
Zuni: Coyote
African: Spider, Tortoise, Rabbit, Jackal
Graeco/Roman: Pan, Dionysis
Celtic: Phooka and the like (see Irish: Fear Dearg, and a host of
others. The Fool must love Ireland very much...He made so many of Itself there!)
Norse: Loki...-and- Balder
Banks Island: Clat
Micronesia: Nareau
England: Puck, Black Jack Davy
Christianity: "Doubting" Thomas, and The Christ Himself, in many ways....and Judas, too.
20th Cent. North American: Bugs Bunny, The Joker, Mr. Mxyzpltk,
Murphy, ("And Pooh is a -good- example, too!" said Eeyore)

Neo-Paganism: Discordians
18th thru 20th Cent. Appalachian: Jack (from British Isles)
18th and 19th Cent. N.A. Black: Br'er Rabbit, Long John, &c.
German: Tyl Eulenspiegel
Italy: Harlequin (check out Agatha Christie's stories about
"Harley Quinn." VERY interesting!)
Islamic: Juha, Abu Nawwas, Mullah Nasruddin, Nasreddin Khoja,
Nasreddin Hodja
Japanese: Fox, Hotei, and the whole concept of Zen......

And the many, many instances of the Hero figure and his Friend in most people's mythology....Gilgamesh and Enkidu, Robin Hood and Little John, the Mythic Hollywood Western Hero and his ridiculous sidekick, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.....and many times you see the recurrent theme of the Great Betrayal of the Hero, which leads to His death...and to His Resurrection!

One immediately sees that the Fool is a universal constant in folk belief, just as the Goddess and God are!
(NB: I have not gotten more specific for two reasons: one, for limitations of space, and two, to encourage others to do a little reading on their own!)

As most things, the Fool is Personified in three basic Aspects that (of course) overlap with each other and with the God and Goddess.

The first is that of the Saviour God, the Prometheus, the Culture Hero, who brings Knowledge (and -occasionally- Wisdom) to Mankind. This Aspect loves Mankind with all His Being, and only wishes Good. His Good Intentions sometimes fall short of His (or Mankind's) expectations, however.

The second isthat ofthe Clown,the Nerd,the Jerk,that teaches by his own mistakes (and who usually comes out ahead because of His own Innocence.) This Aspect is mostly neutral, and is how He seems to mostly manifest Himself.
 
Continued...

But let us not forget the third, and darker, side oftheFool, best exemplified by Jack Nicholson's portrayal of The Joker in the film version of "Batman." Just as the Goddess has Her Dark side (the Crone, the Morrigan, &c) and the God has His (Odin as Death-God) so does the Fool have a terrifying Aspect (at least, from the human point of view): Chaos Personified.

This is not an Aspect to invoke, as It does not care. Period. It is the ultimate psychopath, the ultimate Spoiled Brat, the quintessence of Ego-centric self-love. In some circles, it could be quite nicely named Ahriman, or Shaitan, or Satan, because it fits all concepts of that Middle-Eastern deity....except one: It does not care if Man worships It or not. It is not in -conflict- with the God and/or Goddess, It is -not- on the kind of power-trip that the Judeo-Christian Satan is represented as having, it just -is-. It should be considered as neither "good" nor "evil," though it can personify both or either....or neither! This is confusing, but with a little thought the concept will (hopefully) come clear.

(And, just in passing, the film version of "Batman" is perhaps a very good metaphor for the eternal struggle between the Fool-as-Prometheus (Batman) and the Fool-as-Chaos (the Joker).

Areyou confused? If youare, GOOD! If you arenot, keep thinking by not-thinking. (wha-a-a-a-a-t?)

Some of thebest examples ofthe three Personifications arefound in the Navaho and Zuni tales of Coyote, or the Br'er Rabbit tales, or the older Bugs Bunny cartoons, or even Walt Disney's Goofy. And, while speaking of classic animation, if you can see any of the cartoons of the Cannibal Boy and the Mynah Bird, do so! It shows not one, but TWO Aspects in action!

For a look at His more serious (?) side, try J.R.R. Tolkien's wonderful evocation of Tom Bombadil.....who is described as "the oldest." Prof. Tolkien came very close to the core of the truth with that one!

The Fool is your slightly daffy Uncle, that comes to visit at Christmas and is such fun to be with, but who seems to have a sadness about him too, that you found out later, when you were all grown up, was his slide into alcoholism. The Fool is the American sit-com "Daddy" who never seems to get anything right, but wins out in the end anyway. The Fool is the classic scene of Bugs Bunny, floating in a washtub in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, happily singing "As Time Goes By," blissfully uncaring about his obvious predicament...one which would send a human into sheer despair....knowing that something will turn up, some scam that he can pull that will get him out of the washtub and into clover again. The Fool is the Tarot's Fool, of course....but He is also the Hanged Man.

Do -not- invoke the Fool unless you are ready for literally ANYTHING to happen! He just might turn you into a Large Green Frog just to observe what happens......He is capricious. He is unpredictable. He is what He is, and nothing you can do will turn Him from His Purpose, whatever that may be at any given moment. He is "Murphy," and whatever can go wrong, WILL go wrong...or right. Unless you have an uncommonly flexible mind, you -might- not be able to handle it!

He has no Festival, unless it is the Lupercal, or perhaps April Fool's Day, or even New Year's Eve, for every day is His, as He chooses. Some have inquired about the seeming overlap of functions in the Goddess/God/Fool triad, and this should be addressed here. The modern Western mind tends to "pigeonhole" things, and rigidly excludes other things from these pigeonholes. This, I feel, is in some ways an error in thinking, especially about the Triad.

One cannot and should not "compartmentalize" the God/Fool/Goddess into three rigidly separate Beings, but rather think of them as three separate sources of ripples in the same Pond: the ripples interact and intersect, and act on each other, but move within the same Source, whatever That may be.

-the Bard
at Samhain, 1990 CE

I wish I could list all of my sources, but if I did, it would add several pages to this text, and I am trying to keep it short. I -will- recommend reading one book, however, that will give a great insight into the Holy Fool:

CONTRARIWISE
Zohra Greenhalgh, Ace (paperback) April 1989
0-441-117112-2
(it has a sequel, but I can't remember the title offhand....)

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"Rimble, Rimble!"

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Permission is granted to reprint this article, both in electronic and in print. Any copy of this article must include the WHOLE article, and any comments should be sent net-mail to "the Bard" at FIDOnet 1:114/29 (602) 439-7080. Copies of any printed reproduction of this article should be forwarded to "the Bard" c/o DEUS EX MACHINA BBS, PO Box 35190, PHOENIX, AZ 85069. Thanks!
 
Interesting thought, but not everything is in 3s. Two primary aspects of deity (God/Goddess), 3 aspects of Goddess (Maiden/Mother/Crone) [and corresponding aspects of the God], but 4 quarters/directions/cross-quarters, 5 points on the pentacle/pentagram....

Numeric progressions have mystical importance in many cultures. Hmm - wonder if a rewrite of "Green Grow The Rushes Oh" has been done for that sequence yet? <g,d&r>
 
Hmmm. I'd have to quibble about Doubting Thomas. In my particular church, he's been known to be protrayed as the archetypical engineer, requiring tangible proof of something before he'll believe. Of course, my church has a larger than average proportion of engineers, and I'm the daughter and sister of one. What I understand Christian trilogy, incorporating masculine, feminine and neuter aspects to be is the old-fashioned Trinity -- God (neuter), Christ (male), and the Holy Spirit, who I'm told traditionally uses the feminine gender, although she gets short shrift in English.

I'll also add to the list in the article and mention that in Japanese mythology, the fox, inari, is the trickster, and one who can be tricked.

From a Christian perspective, in 1 Corinthians, Paul does some wonderful riffing on the idea of foolishness and wisdom and (I've got Bible Gateway open in another window to make sure I get my facts straight) claims that "We are fools for Christ." As someone who's been known to risk being incredibly foolish by doing things such as taking up fencing, etc., I like that idea.

CJ
 
Kirkegaard wrote about faith as a "blind leap into the darkness." For any of you who saw the third Indiana Jones movie--the one involving a search for the Holy Grail--there is a perfect metaphor there. Indie comes to a sheer cliff above a deep canyon, and realizes he needs to step off and trust the angels to support him. "Oh, great," he says. "It's a test of faith!" But he steps off anyway into seemingly empty air . . . and nearly falls when he steps onto a bridge painted so as to appear invisible from the vantage point of the step-off.

Speaking as one with a nastily scientific and questioning turn of mind, I still find that any philosophy of religion--including, to my way of thinking, atheism!--requires that blind and apparently foolish leap of faith. Currently, I'm writing a book about how magic is not only compatible with, but demanded by quantum physics . . . but even if I'm 100% right with my premise, my belief in a deity,or deities, still depends on my belief which cannot be quantified, and which cannot be hung from objective supports.

I've always appreciated that "fools for Christ" line in I Corinthians, starting back when I was a fundie. So much of the Gospel story is so COMPLETELY contrary to what we are pleased to think is common sense and everyday experience. God loved the world so much He had His son incarnated as a human? That God-human died to square our sins with God? God raised him from the dead so we could have eternal life? Talk about foolish!

But no more foolish, in the long run, than my belief that Deity pervades everyone and everything, that we can have meaningful dialogue with it, or that we can use magic to change our reality. And no more foolish, for that matter, than insisting that there is no Deity at all and that physical, material reality is all there is to us, to life, and to the universe.

My current view emphasizes the spiritual walk rather than specific dogma. I no longer agree with Christian doctrine, but to my way of thinking it doesn't matter who's right and who's wrong. In fact, there IS no "right" or "wrong" in the question. What counts is what the individual believer believes, so my Wiccan path is right for me, and Christianity is right for Seige, and the point of this whole exercise is that we each learn from the spiritual path we have chosen--our individual "Fool's walk."

It is, perhaps, needless for me to point out that the Major Arcana of the traditional Tarot has been viewed as the Fool's passage through life, his encounters and life-lessons, culminating at last in The World, representing completion and fullfillment--and also as the gate to the NEXT cycle of life and learning.

So we're all fools, some of us more so than others!
 
Good points - and certainly sounds like an interesting book. And I'm sure you'll have plenty of interested buyers around here. :)

The point about the Tarot - certainly a fascinating idea. An especially important point about the Fool figure, though, is that it is necessarily one of sacrifice. The "Hanged Man" card is an excellent illustration of the sacrificail principle of the Fool. Sometimes I wonder why the Fool and Hanged Man cards are even represented separately, as they are simply different aspects of the same thing. From my own personal perception, anyway.
 
nah nah nah... This is bugging me I know it's old but what the hell is the first quote all aboot? It's half the size but twice as far away as what? lmao....


"A fork maybe good for spag bowl.... but a spoon is round!"

WHAT!£$?!$? lol...
 
Why you of all people I would have never thought would stumble in the rabbit hole of the holy fool...

Or are you playing Pantaloon?
 
...interesting that you both align the fool with the hanged man... I can't agree at all...

in fact, I'd go so far as to say... nahhhh....

if we look at the symbolism of ae waites fool, we see?

a young (naive?) person, blindly stepping over a precipice, and yet...

this flaxen haired youth, with a white rose, symbolic of pure, or even spiritual love, has packed up his possessions, and sets out, alone, and yet...

beside him is a little white dog... man's best friend... a loyal companion...

the fool here is not conscious of his sacrifice, although maybe yes, the fool becomes the circumspect one who has overcome his trials later, but not here he isn't...

this card is zero... this card is us, on the start of our spiritual quest... love, a real love, an earnest desire, a longing to unite with the muse, this is Zero's quest, and his folly... only time will tell whether he is upheld, aloft, given wings by love...
 
Namaste all,

i would suggest that "the bard" (who is not The Bard, of course) does not have a valid cognition of Zen/Ch'an Buddhadharma.

metta,

~v
 
oo oo, an interesting post i missed! :D

as a bit of a fool/druid myself i would consider it as not located in anything. as a universalist i would not put god or the goddess outside of it, nor it outside of anything else.

i think the three classifications represent it quite well, although in my opinion it should not be so divided. the foolish energy can be taken in many directions yet is not of any of them itself.

An especially important point about the Fool figure, though, is that it is necessarily one of sacrifice. The "Hanged Man" card is an excellent illustration of the sacrificail principle of the Fool.

please elaborate! for me the hanged man sees the world correctly as it is all a bit mixed up back to front and upside downy - in a manner. interesting connection! but can we not link the fool to any of the major arcana?!
 
...interesting that you both align the fool with the hanged man... I can't agree at all...

in fact, I'd go so far as to say... nahhhh....

if we look at the symbolism of ae waites fool, we see?

a young (naive?) person, blindly stepping over a precipice, and yet...

this flaxen haired youth, with a white rose, symbolic of pure, or even spiritual love, has packed up his possessions, and sets out, alone, and yet...

beside him is a little white dog... man's best friend... a loyal companion...

the fool here is not conscious of his sacrifice, although maybe yes, the fool becomes the circumspect one who has overcome his trials later, but not here he isn't...

this card is zero... this card is us, on the start of our spiritual quest... love, a real love, an earnest desire, a longing to unite with the muse, this is Zero's quest, and his folly... only time will tell whether he is upheld, aloft, given wings by love...

I wish I could think of something intelligent and profound to say in my first post on this forum, but unfortunately it just isn't happening. Maybe this isn't the appropriate topic for something intelligent and profound, unless it happens by accident? All I know is that I was drawn to this topic because I've been thinking a lot about the Fool lately, for various reasons I won't go into now.

I don't see the correspondence with the Hanged Man either, for whatever that's worth. But the rest of your description reminds me of someone I knew a long time ago. I was always absolutely sure that his card was the Fool, but I've never understood WHY I felt that way. I'm beginning to get an inkling of it now that I realize it's also my card, maybe not all the time but in certain moods.

--Linda
 
Hello Linda, and welcome to CR.

I believe the point of it all is that everyone who breathes and walks around on the planet is at times "played the fool" and is "left hanging". Just a normal and periodic human condition, and a most natural outcome in societies based upon choice and free will.

However if innocent people are manipulated into such situations more often than not against their will and intent, then we're looking at some quite dark activities. My opinion is that this is all at the root of racist and discriminatory activities within societies which some of us see going on all of the time. The current trend towards the demonization of immigrants by conservative factions in the U.S. would be another example.

And I've been there and done that quite often myself. It's no wonder that the cards feature such happenstances IMHO.

flow....;)
 
Hi Linda!

Let me give you a quote:
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. ...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 the thought. The Fool is the initial potential for that thought which transcends reason.

Qabalistic Tarot, Robert Wang

A couple of points of interest on the Hanged Man:

The Hanged Man corresponds to the path of Mem which connects Hod and Geburah on the Pillar of Severity. Mem is one of the three Maternal letters: Shin, Mem, and Aleph. These are the three baptisms: Shin, the path of Judgement, is the baptism of Fire. Mem, the path of the Hanged Man is the baptism of Water, and Aleph, the Fool, is the baptism of Air. Since the baptism of water, or the experience of Consciousness- the First Principle of alchemy, is the essential, central, pivotal experience of the entire Tree of Life, the iconography of the Hanged Man card symbolizes a unique relationship with Kether, the Prime Mover. This becomes clear when one realizes that the upside down figure of the Hanged Man is posed in the shape of a Fylfot Cross (Swastica).

Chris
 
Hi Chris!

You told me awhile back you were hanging out here, and I even registered and lurked on some of your posts a few times, but this is the first time I've ever done more than peer through the window to check out the scene. You were right as usual...this place definitely rocks, from what I've seen so far!

I've been hearing about the attribution of the Major Arcana of the Tarot to the paths on the Tree of Life for as long as I've known about either of those systems, but I've never studied them systematically, even though I've looked at any number of diagrams in various esoteric books over the years. But I never memorized them, so I can't tell you what any of those attributions are. I appreciate it that you're starting to tell me, without any unnecessary preliminaries.

Although I still don't quite get the connection between the Fool and the Hanged Man, your quotation about the Hanged Man grabbed my attention for another reason.

The Hanged Man corresponds to the path of Mem which connects Hod and Geburah on the Pillar of Severity. Mem is one of the three Maternal letters: Shin, Mem, and Aleph. These are the three baptisms: Shin, the path of Judgement, is the baptism of Fire. Mem, the path of the Hanged Man is the baptism of Water, and Aleph, the Fool, is the baptism of Air.

These attributions correspond to the three initiations I've been trying to describe elsewhere, although you may not have seen where I posted it. I always hate saying things like that on a public forum because it sounds so inflated, but ...what if it's true? It would be just as dishonest to say they didn't happen when I truly believe they did. It looks like you've just given me another frame of reference or symbolic language for trying to understand and assimilate them.

So the path of Mem connects Hod and Gevurah (as I spell it) on the Pillar of Severity, and its card is the Hanged Man. And yet it's the path of Shin that corresponds to the card of Judgment. It's almost scary the way those attributions "fit" what happened all those years ago, and now they fit my recollection of those events. The first initiation happened when I was eighteen, and it was indeed the initiation of Judgment. That's a very appropriate symbol for it.

Twenty years later (almost to the day), during my second initiation, I recalled and to some degree reconciled myself with the earlier events. I wrote a poem to commemorate and "finalize" that reconciliation, which my husband said was the best poem I ever wrote. Later I sent copies of that poem to two people I thought would appreciate it (which they did), but it was never published.

Somehow I lost my original during the chaos of all those forced relocations after my husband's death. I don't need to tell you about any of that, of course. Over the past week I've been trying to reconstruct that poem from memory, and I've ALMOST got it but not quite! I wrote it in May 1984, and title of it is "Gevurah."

Love and Light,
Linda
 
I really see the Fool as the negative aspect of the Hanged Man - and that really the both are just different sides of the same coin.

I mean, after all, what could be more Foolish to be the Hanged Man? The Hanged Man is a visionary who gives himself to help others but this will often look Foolish to others.

A Good Fool will always be condemned to be the Hanged Man in some way. A Bad Fool is foolishness that benefits no one, excepting perhaps the fool.

Hm...it's getting hard to explain without looking for my notes and pasting them in here. Maybe I'll need to find them.
 
Is there really anything more foolish than gouging out one's own eye or cutting off one's own ear? Is that not like hanging oneself? Doesn't that just sound crazy? But, it happens regularly because people choose to see what they want to see rather than to see, and to hear what they want to hear rather than to hear. I find that it is like playing with half a deck because the other cards were just too... too something... to see or to hear from. Surely I'm a fool now and then.
 
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