The Expanded Fool’s Journey

Storytelling is at the heart of all tarot readings. The Fool’s Journey is a mythic story-telling device which explores the interconnections and meanings within the twenty-two major arcana cards. In this framework, The Fool (0), becomes the main character in a fable which can be told many different ways. The rest of the cards become characters, settings, and events which happen throughout The Fool’s life. This story describes who the Fool meets, the events which change them, and how they learn to deal with living in the world. What The Fool decides to do with this knowledge becomes the readings we tell to clients.

Creating your own Fool’s Journey tale can be a fun and empowering exercise in both understanding card meanings and writing fiction. I’ve done a few versions of this story through my time as a tarot reader. It’s a good challenge. Tarot Inspired Life used a shortened version of this story in its pages. However, it’s more fun to experience the whole journey from “once upon a time” to “the end” so I’ve included the entire draft of that version of The Fool’s Journey here and as a download for your entertainment. Enjoy!

Have you tried writing your own Fool’s Journey? I’d love to read it. Let me know.

One example of The Fool’s Journey through the Major Arcana
by Jaymi Elford

Once upon a time a Fool set out for adventure with only what he could carry on his back. With his head high in the clouds, he walks towards a cliff, unaware of the danger he faces. His small companion, a white dog, barks at his heels. Luckily the fool is able to navigate a path safely down.

Descending from the cliffs, the Fool wanders into a lavish garden filled with roses, lilies, and crawling vines. A Magician stands in the center of this garden. His red robes ruffle in a gentle breeze. His gaze rests upon the table in front of him filled with four implements. Celestial power flows from his hands to his head and a halo appears. The Fool, mesmerized, wants to learn all he can from this strong and self-confident person. So, the Magician takes the Fool on as his apprentice and teaches him the ways for manifestation: mastering the art of magic through using the wand, sword, chalice, and pentacles.

Armed with the magician’s tools, the Fool continues his path. Daytime changes to night and he comes upon a beautiful lady sitting between two pillars. She cradles a set of scrolls in her lap. She lifts her head up and smiles at the Fool. He bends down and sits next to her. She lays her hand on his head as they sit in silence. While the Fool is confused, he understands—more lessons are taking place. He closes his eyes and taps into his intuition. His inner guides begin talking. As the first rays of sunlight appear, the Fool bows in gratitude and takes his leave.

The Fool stumbles into a forest after having a short nap. A voluptuous woman sits under the warm rays of sunlight. She rests her back against a chaise lounge. Her golden locks frame her round, smiling face. The Fool inhales the fresh morning air. She weaves a story of her empire, for she is the Empress, and invites him to stay for a meal. They chat about his past and he shows her his tools and she says they’’ll help him manifest his creative desires. She shares the abundance of the forest with The Fool before he leaves.

Trees give way to sand and dust. The Fool stumbles out from the dunes and comes face to face with a tall man on his throne. His well-worn armor glints from years of use. This Emperor points down at the Fool and recounts the rules and laws of the land which the Fool must obey. Despite being told about various limitations, The Fool feels quite free to explore. He learns how having defined boundaries frees him to move around. He obeys the laws while traveling in the Emperor’s lands and continues on his merry way.

The sounds of bells draw the Fool to a church. Golden bells atop the steeple ring loud and clear, drawing parishioners to the building. He enters the church and meets the Hierophant, a man sitting in a chair flanked by two attendees. The Hierophant sees the innocence in the Fool and bids him forward to receive a blessing. The Hierophant raises his hand high and offers to guide him through formal education. The Fool is now aware of beliefs and culture. He learns to love literature and music and develops an appreciation for beauty. 

Soon he comes across a strange scene: two people stand naked, holding hands, as an angel hovers over them. Blushing for the unclothed people, The Fool bears witness to a ceremony. After the proceedings, he learns how these Lovers are choosing to spend their lives together, to be as one unit. They teach him what it takes to be a good partner, if he ever chooses to connect to another spirit in this way. He hugs them all and adds the knowledge they taught him, about love and choice, into the bag with his other belongings.

With his newly acquired skills and appetite to see more, the Fool seeks out more travels. He boards a Chariot, which takes him quickly to places he only dreamt about. He understands that dreams and destiny are intertwined and with determination and speed, then The Fool can become more of what he is capable of.

From learning about love and appreciation of what the world has to offer, The Fool develops his inner capacity for Strength when he learns how to deal with life’s twists. For while he has knowledge, he has not yet put it to the test. The strange cities on his journey, test his fortitude and capacity to tame the unknown.

Growing ever wiser, and learning which places he should stay away from, The Fool retreats back to the untamed lands of the forests and mountains. He is alone, and as the seasons began to change, he finds himself cold. This is where he finds The Hermit, a strange solo person who lives at the foot of a cave. The Hermit lets him stay by his side, sharing more tidbits of knowledge and wisdom with The Fool. He warms up and understands how he can safely turn what he knows into introspection. The Hermit bids The Fool farewell and our traveller sets out again.

The Fool continues to journey without a predetermined path. The seasons continue to change and cycle through their majestic beauty. He calls this cycle, The Wheel of Fortune, and decides the passing of time teaches him various lessons about fortune and folly.

From the joys and pains brought by the seasons, The Fool learns the trials and tribulations of Justice. For he has wandered back into a city and bears witness to the cycles of fairness which befalls people.

He stumbles across The Hanged Man. A younger man who has been hung upside down on a tree. The Man does not tell The Fool how he got there; instead, The Hanged Man reminds The Fool to value the sacrifices he will make in life and how this will open his senses up to new perspectives of seeing situations.

Leaving The Hanged Man behind, The Fool runs into Death. The reaper helps The Fool understand the value of making graceful transitions. For Death comes for everyone, but never lets on to whom they come for.

The Fool then meats Temperance, who teaches him to balance forces in opposition and to always find a third option no matter what the situation.

While The Fool attempts to rest, The Devil appears and gives him the temptations of desire. This perfect person shows the Fool how these offers can chain a person and how easy it is to escape the bonds that hold him down.

The Fool is certainly tempted and yet resists. The resistance breaks down his walls and the Fool understands what messages a fallen Tower has for him. Which are when you are faced with the consequences of poor choices, you can always start again from a stronger foundation.

Looking up from the land to the sky, the Fool gains hope and a sense of purpose by looking at the Star. The shining light in the sky gives The Fool hope.

He calls to the Moon by howling The Moon shines upon him, reminding The Fool that no matter where he may go in the world he will always need to deal with the darker sides he has witnessed. The Fool learns how to not hide from himself.

Turning once more to the warmth of the Sun, the Fool steps free of his clothes. He takes off the masks his explorations gave to him, and returns to the joyous carefree self he once was.

Stepping closer to where he started from, The Fool hears the sounds of a trumpet. He looks up and sees an angel making music. In a valley below, The Fool sees people rising up and floating to a great veil in the sky. The Fool also leaps into their and learns how to pass beyond the veils of Judgement which allow him to accept any mistakes made in life and while also celebrating successes.

Feeling transcended, The Fool looks back behind himself and views The World. He looks around and recognizes the ground from which he started from, all those years ago. The path The Fool walked on cam be started once more. He can now be praised for having attempted the journey, making friends along the way, and learning the valuable lessons life has to offer.

The End