You may wonder at times if this is a cyclist’s blog or not. That it might be confusing for the reader who expects to see the ‘usual’ descriptions of a cyclist’s impressions of his or her trip is a given. So, let me help would-be readers of these pages understand what this ‘journal’ and ‘pilgrim’s journey’ is. I’ll try to introduce you, the reader, to Dhane Blue and how I think and whom I identify with. I used to give Tarot readings until 7 or 8 years ago when I ‘jinxed’ my own self with one — now I just try to understand the ‘symbology’ of these cards and use it to communicate ideas. My own comments are in italics below. But, the main ‘gist’ of this is straight from multiple sources online explaining the Tarot. Don’t give up on me as a cyclist blogger just yet — I simply write from a unique perspective/viewpoint that requires some explanation.
In many esoteric systems of interpretation, the Fool is usually interpreted as the protagonist of a story, and the Major Arcana is the path the Fool takes through the great mysteries of life and the main human archetypes. This path is known traditionally in Tarot as the Fool´s Journey. The Fool is the spirit in search of experience. He represents the mystical cleverness bereft of reason within us, the childlike ability to tune into the inner workings of the world. (I try to get as close to this as I can as a kindergarten teacher). The sun shining behind him represents the divine nature of the Fool’s wisdom and exuberance, holy madness or ‘crazy wisdom’ . On his back are all the possessions he might need (or, emotional baggage to be got rid of if possible). In his hand there is a flower, showing his appreciation of beauty. He is frequently accompanied by a dog, sometimes seen as his animal desires, sometimes as the call of the “real world”, nipping at his heels and distracting him (see related story). He is seemingly unconcerned that he is standing on a precipice, apparently about to step off. One of the keys to the card is the paradigm of the precipice, Zero, and the sometimes represented oblivious Fool’s near-step into the oblivion. The staff is the offset and complement to the void and this in many traditions represents wisdom and renunciation, eg. ‘danda’ (Sanskrit) of a Sanyassin, ‘danda’ (Sanskrit) is also a punctuation mark with the function analogous to a ‘full-stop’ which is appropriately termed, a period in English grammar. (Sannyasa is the order of life of the renouncer within the Hindu scheme of āśramas, or life stages. It is considered the topmost and final stage of the ashram systems and is traditionally taken by men at or beyond the age of fifty years old or by young monks) (I would like a companion or two on this journey) who wish to dedicate their entire life towards spiritual pursuits. In this phase of life, the person develops vairāgya, or a state of dispassion and detachment from material life. He renounces all worldly thoughts and desires, and spends the rest of his life in spiritual contemplation. (One within the sannyasa order is known as a sannyasin.)
The Fool is both the beginning and the end, neither and otherwise, betwixt and between, liminal. In the earliest Tarot decks, the Fool is usually depicted as a beggar or a vagabond. In the Visconti-Sforza tarot deck, the Fool wears ragged clothes and stockings without shoes, and carries a stick on his back. He has what appears to be feathers in his hair. His unruly beard and feathers may relate to the tradition of the woodwose or wild man. Another early Italian image that relates to the tradition is the first (and lowest) of the series of the so called “Tarocchi of Mantegna”. This series of prints containing images of social roles, allegorical figures, and classical deities begins with “Misero“, a depiction of a beggar leaning on a staff. (Only now has man realized he doesn’t need to ‘beg’ for self-knowledge!) A similar image is contained in the German Hofamterspiel; there the fool (German: Narr) is depicted as a barefoot man in robes, apparently with bells on his hood, playing a bagpipe (this reminds me of the story of the ‘Pied Piper of Hamlet’ — more of this to come).
To me, the renunciation of the material world by the Sanyassin doesn’t mean denying one’s desires — it means renunciation of being dishonest within one’s self about recognizing them and allowing them into one’s awareness. Failing to acknowledge one’s own true desires and buying into what others would sell us as a virtual experience of ‘joy and bliss’ is what leads to pain and suffering in this life. It’s the path of life-denial and worship of entropy — or death — meaning one’s decision to stop resonating with ‘creation’.
The Fool stands for each of us as we begin our journey of life. He is a fool because only a simple soul has the innocent faith to undertake such a journey with all its hazards and pain. At the start of his trip, the Fool is a newborn – fresh, open and spontaneous (or a ‘pilgrim’ following the Tao). The figure on Card 0 has his arms flung wide, and his head held high. He is ready to embrace whatever comes his way, but he is also oblivious to the cliff edge he is about to cross. The Fool is unaware of the hardships he will face as he ventures out to learn the lessons of the world (matrix).
The Fool stands somewhat outside the rest of the major arcana (or ‘consensual’ reality as we normally define it – in other words, outside of the ‘matrix’). Zero is an unusual number. It rests in the exact middle of the number system – poised between the positive and negative. At birth, the Fool is set in the middle of his own individual universe. He is strangely empty (as is zero), but imbued with a desire to go forth and learn. This undertaking would seem to be folly, but is it?
The Fool is the card of infinite possibilities. In the Tarot, the Fool almost always stands for a time of newness, a time when life has been “re-started” as it were. The person feels that they are back at zero, whether that be in romantic affairs, or career, at their job or intellectual pursuits. Far from being sad or frustrating, the Querent feels remarkably “free”, light hearted and refreshed, as if being given a second chance. He or she feels young and energized.
For the Fool, the most important thing is to just go out and enjoy the world. To see what there is to see and delight in all of it (joy and bliss). With the ‘hyped’ 2012 approaching (another Y2K?) I have resolved to play at being this character — a Pied Piper of sorts wandering in south Asia. I am trying to make a clean break with the past and refusing to project myself into an imagined future.
So, the challenge for me, as I see it, is to live each day in the present moment — forget the past and forgive yourself for your mistakes. Don’t project your potential to create a new world. As the Beatles sang, “Let it be!” This is how a young child lives before he or she develops an ‘ego’ or ‘super-id’ to manage virtual reality experiences forced upon one to ‘fit into society’. When one starts growing out of childhood into so-called adulthood one becomes seriously involved in the Matrix (consensual society). It may be the ideas one has adopted (to survive a little longer and search for more meaningful experience — one plays along with society) or it may be the emotional baggage one carries around with himself or herself (the lies about one’s self that others would feed us that we’ve swallowed). As a Taoist would say, learning to ‘letting go of the Matrix’ and choosing self-acceptance instead of self-punishment is the secret to ‘enjoying’ life and living in the present moment. A person shouldn’t deny who one is just to ‘fit in’ and survive in a ‘mad world’.
Comments and suggestions are welcome. Please contact me:
dhaneblue (at) gmx (dot) com
January 1, 2011
Update July 2016 — I’ve been retired for three + years now and have settled down in Kathmandu, Nepal. I also have no cycle(s) — any number of wheels — though I may get back into a cycle trek this fall. For ‘plain boring’ stories, please visit my blog for Nepal here.