In order to risk, we have to be willing to look bad. We have to be willing to be a sucker. We have to be willing to look like fools.
~ Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way
After a hiatus of several years, during this magical week of Imbolc, The Fool returns.
The Fool is all about potential, new beginnings, and risk-taking. It’s time for a complete reboot, a clean slate, and taking a leap of faith!
Imbolc, also called Candlemas or Brighid, is the traditional time of setting our intention for the magical year. During this Sabbat, we dedicate to a path of study, we make or renew our most intimate vows of spiritual devotion, and we cleanse and re-energize our tools and sacred objects.
Imbolc is a cross-quarter holiday, meaning it is halfway between Solstice and Equinox. It is the doorway through which we can see that Spring is certainly coming.
But before we can plant the seeds that will eventually grow into a healthy, thriving new life force, we, like The Fool, stand at the edge of what has been and what is yet to come.
The Fool follows the completion of The World, and he precedes the manifesting of The Magician. The Fool is the zero in the Tarot – he is the beginning and the end of the Major Arcana journey, where all potential exists, all things are possible.
Zero is a very radical idea. Author Charles Seife discusses it at length in his acclaimed bestseller, Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea. “This innocent-looking number, from its birth as an Eastern philosophical concept to its struggle for acceptance in Europe, its rise and transcendence in the West, and its ever-present threat to modern physics…has pitted East against West and faith against reason, and its intransigence persists in the dark core of a black hole and the brilliant flash of the Big Bang.
“Today, zero lies at the heart of one of the biggest scientific controversies of all time, the quest for a theory of everything…For zero, infinity’s twin, is not like other numbers. It is both nothing and everything.”
The zero may remind us of the Japanese symbol enso, a core concept of Zen wisdom. It is the symbol of mystery, absolute enlightenment, strength, elegance, the universe, and the void.
So here is our Fool of nothingness and everything; innocence and enlightenment; the Great Emptiness, poised on the edge of Becoming.
Sporting a jaunty red feather of passion, and with his hand in the position of the Gyan Mudra, he holds a white rose – symbol of both passion and purity. His cloak is covered in circles divided into eighths – referencing the eight quarters and cross-quarter holidays of the Wheel of the Year.
He is the new beginning, with his companion dog either warning or dancing with him (or a bit of both). As he stands on the edge of his leap into the unknown, he carries a small satchel on a stick. He travels with only the essentials, eschewing all that is weighty or complicated. However, look closely and you will see that the stick upon which his bag is attached is none other than a magic wand. Is he aware of its power?
What power might be present in the tools you carry? What is in your own traveling baggage?
The Fool is only a fool to those who stand on the sidelines, judging him. In his own mind, he is simply following his bliss. The Universe loves the Fool, and honors him, for in truth, no breakthrough, no cure, no discovery, no accomplishment in human history was ever made without someone being thought a Fool for trying.
In order to grow into who we truly are, we must be willing to risk it. Taking the risk of authenticity is the scariest, most necessary thing you will ever do. And you’ll be required to do it over and over, many times, every day. Do you dare?
Leap and look foolish we must, or else join the ranks of the sleep-walkers who are hypnotized in their nightmares. I am sure that you, as I do, see them every day.
This week, if you were to simply follow your bliss, what foolish steps would you take? What new path lies before you, beckoning to your wildest, truest desires?
Do not over think this. Instead, now, at Imbolc, let us dance on the foolish edge which is none other than the dream of the Dreamer.