Monday, May 23, 2011

Follow Your Heart: Week 6 with Tarot's Fool

How does a writer's journey relate to that of The Fool from Tarot? It's a pretty amazing parallel, from initial enthusiasm to developing strength and traction to being on a roll, then the pitfalls, and those mysterious deep truths that ambush us just when we think we've got it all figured out. And then the glorious moments of insight and breakthroughs and the thrill of getting lucky and maybe even becoming an overnight sensation (even if it's after twenty years of blood, sweat, tears, and carpal tunnel syndrome). Ah, there's nothing more like the writer's journey than that of The Fool.

So far, we've traveled through the initial stages of excitement, the magic of a great idea, understanding that luck is not a matter of chance, and that we must devote ourselves body and soul to our quest to develop it. Also, recognition of the importance of being alert and brave, and the necessity of being grounded and solid in our core if we want to avoid the traps of foolish overzealousness. (Earlier posts in this series are listed at the end of this entry.) 

Now The Fool is back on his path, feeling deepened, empowered, energetic, and more determined than ever. He has a sense of longing for the success he knows can be his if he sticks to this path.  He whistles as he walks, and then he goes silent as he comes to a crossroad. There are two paths in front of him. Each is marked by a tree—one is flowering, and marks the path The Fool wants to take. The other tree bears fruit, and in front of it stands a woman (a new plot development that was unplanned and unexpected). An amazing, alluring woman.

She's hardly the first woman The Fool has ever been attracted to, he's no child, after all. And she's certainly not as beautiful as some of the women he's known. But there's something about her that makes him not notice anything else (she was a character whom he fashioned to serve his book, but now she's taking over the story and peeling the onion of what this book COULD be, if given a real chance). He doesn't notice the man next to the flowering tree, the archangel overseeing the scene, or the serpent on the fruit tree. Even if he did see those things it wouldn't matter. Because it's as if he's been hit by a bolt of lightning. He talks to the woman and discovers it's like they are two sides of the same coin. They laugh at scurrying shared thoughts, finish each others sentences, and seem to know each other at a level so deep it's as if that angel has simply brought their souls back together after a lifetime's absence. The Fool knows he's found a part of himself that he's been searching for all his life.He can't take any path that doesn't include her. Like the fruit tree, she will fulfill him. Just like that, he's chosen a new path. The right path, no matter how it may complicate his journey.

So this is a little setback in terms of timing—this new path is longer and has more twists to it, but The Fool is not only satisfied he's made the right decision, he's happy. Happy, as only love can make him. Thank goodness The Hierophant stopped him from being impulsive about his ambitions, or he never would have known the journey itself was such a nirvana.

But all is not smooth.  Yes, the path since the crossroads has been wonderful (he's revised his draft completely to reflect this new and incredible depth of wisdom and perception about his story, and he loves it! Loves writing it, loves reading it, loves querying it, and LOVES the requests he's receiving for partials and even a couple of fulls). But there are enemies appearing!  

The prince of the kingdom (whose land The Fool now trods upon and must cross to reach his goal) gave him permission to enter, even smiled
and slapped him on the back with enthusiasm and welcome when The Fool told him of his quest (that mega-agent lit up at his elevator pitch, and when The Fool gave his whole pitch, the agent said, "I love it! Send me pages. No, send me the full manuscript!) But now The Fool is hungry and thirsty and the land he's on seems barren (it's been six weeks since he submitted, and he's heard nothing, even though the agent said the ms. would be top priority). What blight is this that has removed all the nourishment from the land? (Could it be some annoying intern who hasn't gotten around to the manuscript, or even—gasp—lost it? Should he email the agent and ask about progress? And not only that, but he's had four rejections from other agents in the past week and a half.)

The Fool is exhausted. He drops to the ground and scrounges in his pack for food and water, and consumes the last small amounts he's been keeping for an emergency. Too weary to stand, he lays back on the hard land and closes his eyes. He needs rest. He needs help. How will he ever overcome the obstacles in front of him—the dry, barren earth with its fissures, and the hostile creatures that live there— if he can't even see them, if he can't know them before they attack him? (He made the right decisions about his plot and character development, he knows he did, because the story is so much deeper and more powerful, but there must be something wrong with the structure now, or maybe he's just having a run of rotten luck. He needs luck!) With his last ounce of energy he thinks about what he does know that might help him. There's a treeline in the distance that promises renewed nourishment, if he can just get there. If he has the persistence and strength to move on to that treeline, he'll find the help he needs.

But for now, he'll just rest a little to build up his strength. The Fool drifts into a deep sleep, and dreams of victory.

When he wakes up next week, The Fool is going to get a thrill and a shock, as a Charioteer in full regalia, commanding two tremendous steeds, one white and one black, pulls up alongside him and holds out a magnificent, warlike carafe of purest mountain water. Come back then to see what happens next.

Links to Fool's Journey posts:  0—The Fool; 1—The Magician; 2—The High Priestess; 3—The Empress; 4&5—The Emperor, and The Hierophant

My interpretation of The Fool's Journey as it applies to the writing life is my own, but the journey itself is long-established from a variety of sources. Those I've relied on most heavily are: TAROT BASICS by Burger & Fiebig, AECLECTIC TAROT by Thirteen, and EVERYDAY TAROT by Fairfield


  1. Don't follow the woman! What are you... a fool? She will distract you and take you off your path! Run! Hide!

    Okay... now that I got that out, I feel better. (just practicing the speech for my grandsons)

    We all feel exhausted when we've worked so hard and all the remaining factors are out of our control. Worry. Stress. What to do. I think the fool is smart today to look at that tree line on the horizon.

    There is always something good on the horizon. We just have to know it's there, and be wise enough to look for it.

  2. Amen to that, Karlene! Speaking of amen, I'm so happy to see we're all still here and didn't disappear into Saturday's predicted Rapture oblivion! We still have horizons to gaze at and aim for. Yay! :-))

  3. Yep, just like the writer's path, all right! I'm worried about his journey next week, eep.

  4. Nice little cliffhanger, Linda.... Is THIS our next step? The waiting and uncertainty? I'm ready for it! Bring it on! I hope the Foul has good news next week....

  5. ha ha. The writer's journey is such a crazy path! so up and down from one day to the next. We're all part fool!

  6. Eep is right, Lydia. Have you SEEN that chariot? Talk about a challenge.

  7. A blight upon the land, lol! I love that! That's exactlly how it feels at times. Well put! I'm excited to see what he gets into next week.

  8. Michael, we can all use some good news, right? Even if it's the anxiety of waiting and uncertainty and the need to rest to prepare for whatever's coming next. And when the deep mind is at work, like The Fool's is while he's sleeping, good things can happen!

  9. A crazy path indeed, Laura! What do you suppose it says about us that we love it so much no matter what??

  10. You will love it, Heather, because it's a warrior at work in The Chariot, and I know how you feel about warriors! ;-) Yes, the blight must end. It must.

  11. Poor fool...oh wait, poor me! LOL! Nice post.

  12. Yes, poor all of us Laura! (So glad not Everyone thinks self pity is useless!! A little is okay, right? It makes victory sooo much sweeter when we finally achieve it.)