Monday, October 24, 2011

What's Left When Your Belief Crumbles? Fool's Journey Week 16

I can't believe it's been almost two months since I've posted about Tarot's Fool and his journey to wholeness, which is such an excellent metaphor for our own journeys to publication. To be fair, though, it's a good thing to have taken the time off, because poor Tarot's Fool has been through a lot, and needed time to build up his strength to survive what's coming now. Warning: this post is about The Tower, which I, personally, find to be the scariest card in the deck. Why? Because no matter how dramatic Death and the Devil were, they were just preambles to the real climax of the Fool's journey: The Tower. (Reminder: Tarot is an ancient art. It was developed way back when a story's climax was only about 3/4 of the way to the end. There are five more Major Arcana cards in the Fool's Journey after The Tower. Thank goodness, because we get the how-to details on how the Fool recovers, finds his footing again, and triumphs. Whew.)

Why should someone like the Fool— a writer, for example—still be facing huge challenges after doing such incredible work as he has already done in this journey to become successful? The answer lies within. An author I heard speak at a conference long ago said, "you will never find anyone who is more humble, or more arrogant, than a writer." And that is exactly where the Fool is right now.

He has learned and grown. He's torn down his resistance to change and sacrifice (The Hanged Man), let go of preconceptions and fears (Death), done the very hard work of figuring out how to merge opposites to create wholeness (Temperance), and, when even that wasn't enough, he shattered the chains of his ambition and desire (The Devil). But he still doesn't realize that he has not let go of some core beliefs from his past, tarnished by outdated arrogance, that are holding him back.

Well, if shattering the chains of ambition and desire doesn't sound like overcoming arrogance, I don't know what does. What could be hiding this unseen arrogance from the Fool? A worm buried deep in the core, out of sight until now, that's what.

As the Fool leaves the Devil behind, he is jubilant that he's gotten past his obsessions and can now focus on his aspirations. He comes upon a magnificent, and familiar, structure on the path: a Tower. He himself helped build this tower back when the most important thing to him was making his mark on the world, and proving himself to be better than other men. He loved living in the top of the Tower back then. But now he's surprised to see it there at all; he thought he left it behind when he started this spiritual journey.

Suddenly, in a lightning flash of realization, he knows he's been seeing himself, like the Tower, as alone and singular and superior. Even with all he's done to release himself to growth, he's secretly held on to that core belief. But it's not true!

So powerful is this realization, that he opens his mouth and lets out a tremendous shout of recognition, and an actual bolt of lightning slashes down from the heavens and strikes the Tower. Its residents have to jump to the waters below for their lives, and the Tower itself is reduced a heap of rubble.

The Fool experiences grief so profound he can hardly breathe and feels sure he will perish. He did not know until this moment that he was so bound to this core belief. But instead of perishing with the Tower, when the dust begins to clear, so does his vision. He sees his personal truth with full clarity now. He has done the hardest thing of all: destroyed the last lies he held about himself.

What's left? The bare truth. And on that the Fool can rebuild. Without it, whatever he built would eventually end up in the rubble pile.

He knows he can't rest on his laurels. He steps forward, turns his back on the crumbledTower and focuses on what he must do now. He is filled with anticipation and the kind of anxiety that drives him to find answers. He accesses his deep mind and remembers the lessons he learned as The Hanged Man and from Death. He knows without a doubt that there is a beautiful horizon up ahead, waiting for him, but that he will meet more resistance on the way to it. It will still be a fight, and he will use the strengths he's claiming to win it.

As a writer, you might think that the fight you're facing is about your writing, but if you've reached the point in your journey of confronting your Tower, then it's not. It's about yourself. The Tower has crashed, and with it, so has your need to identify with an ideal or a model. The way has been cleared for you to open yourself up to life, unhindered, free of preconceived notions, aware. You are ready to step into the heart of the fire of your writing, using your basic instincts that were revealed when you shouted down the Tower. But wait, doesn't this sound a lot like going back to the primordial mud? Back to the time before you knew what you were doing?

Yes and no. Yes to mud; mud is good. You'll make clay from the mud, and you know what you can do with clay! No to leaving your hard-earned knowledge behind; it's what lets you mold the clay anew.

Scary? (I can't answer, I'm too busy hiding in a cave!) How do you get a handle on those instincts so you can ride them to success? Well, sorry to be cryptic, but Tarot insists that the answer is in the question. It may take a few more weeks of work and introspection, but you will find your way to transforming that writing fire into a river's natural flow; you will find the boat that lets you escape the dangers on the river's banks and you will flow with the current to success. Stick with the Fool, he'll show you the way.

~ Linda

Links to Fool's Journey posts:  0—The Fool1—The Magician2—The High Priestess3—The Empress4&5—The Emperor, and The Hierophant6—The Lovers; 7—The Chariot8—Strength9—The Hermit; 10—Wheel of Fortune11—Justice12—The Hanged Man13—Death14—Temperance; 15—The Devil 

My interpretation of The Fool's Journey as it applies to the writing life is my own, but the journey 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. I wondered what happened to the fool. :D

    Okay, time to do some deep introspection . . . with chocolate.

  2. So nice to see you again, Stina. Yes, the Fool has been on hiatus, but he's happy to be back. Deep introspection and chocolate sound like a perfect combination. . . we'll have to tell him!

  3. Sometimes finding the way is as simple~and as terrible hard~as continuing to put one foot in front of the other. Or one sentence in front of the other in our cases. Wonderful post, it's so great to have the fool back!

  4. So the tower is the final block to our authentic self? It's us? Despite all the work we do, we still stand in our way... I'm hearing, destroy that tower and follow our inner voice. I'm seeing this tower standing our way of pushing to the next level. Scary. Yesterday I received this motivation.... Coincidence?

    "I always trust that which
    I perceive to be, my inner
    voice. Because I have realized,
    that it speaks far more sense
    to me - than most." From my friend Eleesha

    Welcome back fool.

  5. Thanks, Heather, I've missed him, too. Yes, one sentence at a time. So powerful. But just wait until we're swooshing down the river in a boat--whoo hoo!

  6. Karlene, on behalf of the Fool, I thank you for the welcome back. Yes, you're right. It's us. That's why it's so freakin' scary. We've peeled a lot of layers off the onion already, now we're down to it. And with that motivation you got . . . wow.

  7. "This above all: to thine own self be true." - Shakespeare. ;)

  8. I think I agree that the Tower is the scariest card. Mostly because there's part of yourself in that card--and so seeing it is sometimes a rude awakening about what you counted on and thought to be true; what you were building, so to speak. It's like pulling the rug out from under you, and the future rests solely in picking yourself up again. A daunting task sometimes. I love these posts, Linda. I'm a geek for tarot.

  9. Hi Tina, YES. The Bard knew a few things, all right.

  10. Yay, Julie, a fellow Tarot geek! I love your interpretation of the Tower. You said it beautifully.

  11. I always get a spooky feeling after I read these posts!

    Hey, thanks also for the congrats!

  12. You're welcome, Lydia, I'm so excited for you! Don't get spooked, the Fool's a good guy who wins in the end.