The Fool: Jester or Tramp?

Hi all, I was looking for some opinions on various interpretations of The Fool. I am working on a deck right now, largely based upon the Rider Waite deck (and referencing Waite's writing on it), however I am also drawing from the Marseilles and related writings, with some consideration to Thoth and Ettelia where it may be pertinent, as well as influences from my own scrying and meditations on the cards. Really just trying to create something beautiful which draws on the rich history and ever evolving esoteric legacy of the tarot.

I am currently working on The Fool and find myself torn between depicting them as either a jester, as in the Marseilles deck, or the tramp like figure depicted in the Rider-Waite. Below are initial feelings about each.

The jester is literally a fool, which to me, gives this rendition a more archetypal feel; you look at the costume and recognize the figure as a fool, The Fool, just as you recognize capital-D Death. The trickster spirit, paradoxical nature of madman and teacher lives on in modern comedic figures, portraying the creative nature of the card, those themes of not being so serious or literal and seeking lessons in unconventional ways.

However, the tramp is actually a figure who travels, is on a journey, is not "acting" as a trickster or madman, but may very well be mad, or may simply not adhere to the common path, leaning into the more nuanced and varied interpretations of those themes maybe? I feel this kind of fool more readily suggests the individual on a journey, the free spirit, one who may face pitfalls or benefit from taking a leap of faith.

Any thoughts? I can give more detail on my deck if needed, but this was getting longwinded…

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Kerrie Mercel

Currently Kerrie Mercel, inspirational speaker, author & facilitator for the health and wellness industry. Kerrie enjoys working with professional business women helping them to find the power to live life on their terms.