A few weeks ago in Winston, I started hacking at my bedroom. Combing my belongings for stuff I don’t need has been a common occurrence the past couple years, but this was different.
One night after work I loaded my trunk with nearly all my books, possessions I promised myself I’d pack and un-pack forever no matter how far I moved. Another evening I broke down picture frames, saving only the photos. Have you ever been in the middle of doing something, and you don’t know why you’re doing it, you just know you have to?
To get more comfortable with my (Thoth) tarot deck, I’ve been pulling a card every day. I wonder if I’m doing this the right way—if there is a right, formulated way. I burn sage, shuffle, splay the cards out, reach for the one that calls to me. Sometimes the process helps to answer a question, and sometimes it helps to set an intention. On my last morning in Winston, I pulled the Fool.
In tarot, the Fool is the beginner. His number is zero, meaning he falls nowhere within the sequence of cards, but is part of each, too. The major arcana—generally 22 cards out of a 78-card deck—is considered to be the Fool’s journey through life. Known as trumps, these are powerful pulls, denoting change, growth, awareness, and the passage of time.
Some interpret the Fool as literally foolish. In Rider-Waite’s classic deck, he is depicted as joyful and carefree—and about to walk off a cliff. Some view him as an escape artist, pack slung over his shoulder, ready to go. I feel deeply at home in this card. The Fool is the childlike but well-intentioned seeker, just foolish enough, I suppose, to follow his heart and believe the way will be made.
The major arcana culminates with the Universe (or the World), number 21, a card of completion and integration. At this stage, the Fool has evolved and matured, experienced joy and sadness, triumphed over fear, attained balance and self-understanding. But he’s not meant to get comfortable. As with all karmic cycles, the end doesn’t represent the end. The Fool achieves enlightenment; now he must begin again.
Maybe right now you’re in the Sun’s territory (19) and everything is bright and brand new and healthy and healing. Or maybe you’ve encountered the Hanged Man (12) and are being called to let go. The Fool’s story is a reminder that you will come to these places again and again, each time on a different journey. What I love about tarot is its insistence that our lives are not linear, rather composed of infinite cycles of seeking, learning, returning, and beginning.
Before leaving Winston, I donated my bags of books to Goodwill. When I opened the trunk, the attendant looked inside, back at me, and laughed.
“One of those everything must go situations, huh? I hear ya. Let me get a cart. You gonna need a receipt?”