Today’s card is The Fool from the Manga Tarot.
This Fool card bears some of similarities to other Fool cards: it has a figure approaching a cliff, there’s a canine companion, and the figure doesn’t appear to be able to see the huge drop off right ahead. But there’s a lot more about this card that reads very differently from most Fool cards that I’ve seen.
For starters, I think this is the least colorful Fool I’ve ever seen. Often times the Fool is portrayed as a very festive, jester-like Fool, in the tradition of the medieval fool. This card is nearly monochromatic; only a few details like the brown cast to the stone of the cliff, the skin tone, the trail of red under her feet, and the little pink tongue of the dog have color.
Also this fool doesn’t feel like the starting of a brand new exciting journey into the unknown. It looks bleak. The figure is covering her face, she looks depressed, and my first thought is that she’s walking to her death off that cliff. Instead of a beginning she seems to be heading for an ending. At first I thought the red color indicated flowers blossoming under her feet, but in the context of the card they sort of make me think of blood.
In traditional readings the Fool represents taking a leap of faith into a new an unknown situation. The Fool doesn’t know what lies ahead, but they’re unburdened by worries and they skip happily down the path of life, footloose and fancy free.
The Fool in this card, shown all in white, carries a few other connotations. Although this is the Manga Tarot, the deck contains some racial diversity, and can’t be read as being exclusively Japanese; however, since Manga is a Japanese art form, I can’t exclude those cultural influences without losing some meaning in the cards. In the Shinto religion of Japan, white is the color worn by pilgrims. It’s also the most common color for wedding dresses in Japan, and in many Asian cultures, white is the color of mourning.
In some ways, this Fool could be any of those people. Whether going on a pilgrimage, getting married, or mourning a loss, all of these require stepping forward into the unknown, perhaps taking a leap of faith.
This Fool card is showing us a Fool who isn’t at the very beginning of her journey. She has walked through the path of the Major Arcana already once, and now she has come full circle again. In walking up to that cliff, although she is clearly afraid, covering her eyes, she is willing herself to take that leap again, fighting her instinct that tells her that she’ll fall if she takes that last step. This Fool, more than any other I’ve seen, is urging you to be brave and to trust in the power of a new beginning, even if you’ve been battered and disappointed before. It’s okay to be afraid of the fall, as long as you don’t let your fears trap you and keep you from moving forward. She knows that even when it seems the most bleak and painful, we can always reinvent ourselves if we’re willing to take that risk and be vulnerable again. It’s never too late for a new start.