The Fool

1: Aleph

Keyword: Unknowable Life/Death
Formative Symbolism: the Intemporal: beyond thought: One: Element: Air
Infinite creative energy of intermittant life-death, beyond thought, beyond knowing. All that is and all that is not.

[Tarot Index]

The Fool, Unknowing, beyond the known, between the heights and the depths on the edge of Life and Death. This card is the null-signifier, symbol of that which is beyond thought, designator of what cannot be designated within the universe of structuring signifiers/equations. The Fool, Aleph, is about to step off the cliff of the uncreated into manifestation. He will step into the World, the House of God, Beth-El, where we see the Fool contained in creation (in Bayt, the second letter of the alphabet but the first letter of Bereshit, Genesis).

Could a picture say it any more clearly? Beyond-knowing life/death.

The Fool is the Tarot major trump representing the Hebrew letter Aleph/1, the first letter of the Hebrew letter-numbers and the first Mother letter. It is important to understand that the Fool, or any other Tarot trump, has no meaning beyond the letter it points to. Each of the 22 major Tarot trumps is based on transparent astrological and formative symbolism derived from ancient Hebrew cosmology known from works like the Sepher Yetzirah and Shi'ur Qomah.

The Tarot are thus totally derivative of the primary sign, the Hebrew letter, which is exactly why there are 22 Tarot major arcana. The two do not point separately to a third sign in some vague system of "correspondences." The letter is the ultimate reality and the Tarot images serve no purpose to someone who knows their basic ABC's of Hebrew yetziratic astrology.

The Fool gives us the basic formative and astrological symbolism of Aleph. Besides showing someone "thoughtless" on the edge of discontinuous life-death, about to step in the world of creation and manifestation, the Fool is "up in the air" where Aleph engenders Avir, Air, as one of the three yetziratic "Fathers."

Starting with Aleph's entering the World, the symbolism of creative manifestation unfolds both sequentially and simultaneously on three levels of nine letters each (22 + 5 finals); cards are related both in sequence (1-2-3) and vertically according to their Hebrew numerical value (1-10-100, 2-20-200, 3-30-300).

Aleph as the Fool will enter into creation and team with other letters to structure the worlds of physical and psychological experience. Three other letters are partners with Aleph in the game of life: Bayt/World, Yod/Hermit and Tav/High Priestess. These are containment, existence and cosmic resistance, respectively, the anchor points of Aleph's descent.

Partners in the Game of Life
Life-death Contain Exist Resist
1 2 10 400

Aleph itself appears three times: as itself, as itself disguised in duration/existence, Yod, and as the transcendent reconciliation of Time and Timelessness, Qof, cosmic Aleph. The pictures tell the story. In the older Tarot, the lantern is an hourglass, symbol of time and duration. The staff of the Fool is the Hermit's; they are left behind as the towers of the Moon, on the path beyond duality, where the perfected man, formed by Qof in Daghim/Pisces, has gone.


The Zero Deal: Aleph = 1 not 0

There are two separate systems of obfuscation in the Tarot. One is the original misordering or encoding of the Tarot sequence, resulting in a canonical order only in the 20th century. The other is the late introduction of the Fool as the "0" Trump (rather than simply un-numbered as in the original versions). Both serve to conceal the true pattern and nature of the Tarot: one by misordering (hashing) the seven planetary Tarot and the other by disconnecting their numbers from the letter-numbers of the Hebrew alphabet. See Revived Tarot for more thorough consideration.

Aside from the lack of an understanding of the energetic/structural meanings of the Hebrew letters, a lot of the confusion around the Fool has arisen because of the unfortunate designation of this card as Trump or Key "0", an introduction of Indian and Arabic, numerical concepts into a far older symbolic system with the ultimate effect of destroying the numerical sequence of the original Hebrew letter-numbers. This renumbering obscures the natural sequence by effectively removing Aleph from the alphabet and breaking the inherent letter-number structure that defines the Hebrew alphabet as linking quanititative and qualitative worlds.

Egyptian Tarot | Aleph=0

Instead of two parallel systems -- the 22 Tarot Icons and the 22 Hebrew letter-numbers, we have two off-by-one parallel systems.

Thus, we end up with the confusing situation of the Magician being called Key 1 but supposedly corresponding to Bayt, 2, the High Priestess as Key 2 but (supposedly) corresponding to Ghimmel/3 and all the other letters/Trumps offset by one. Aleph tends to migrate above the pack and ascend to the heaven of non-numbers (Key "0"), with the rest usually arranged in three rows of seven with the columns misaligned with respect to their numerical multiples and inner meanings.

This further obscures the intrinsic structure of the Hebrew alphabet as three rows of nine letter-numbers -- 1-9, 10-90, 100-900 -- with semantic/structural linkages in the columns:   1/Aleph/Fool 10/Yod/Hermit and 100/Qof/Moon are different manifestations of the same energy (timeless immanence, continuity, their synthesis).

Aleph, 1, is Aleph-Lammed-Phay when spelled out in its full structure, 1.30.80, which adds up to 111. Aleph is 1 on every level. The Golden Dawn misses Aleph's incarnations as Yod and Qof on the level of 10's and 100's, where again, it is first on every level, not zeroth or ten times zero.

See Obscuring the Origins.

Here is Case ( The Tarot Macoy, 1947):
Key 0: The Fool (Aleph)

Aleph is the Hebrew equivalent for English A. Its numerical value is 1. In Roman characters used for transliterating Hebrew words throughout this book, its name is ALP, meaning Bull or Ox.

This is believed by many to establish the time of the invention of the alphabet as being during the astronomical period called the Taurean Age, when the bull was the god-symbol dominant in the leading religions of the world ... Since oxen pulled the plow and threshed the grain in primative husbandry, besides pulling the carts which carried the farmers's produce to markets, they became the symbols for the motive power in agriculture.

...in the color-scale used by some Western schools of occult science, the element Air and the Fiery Life-Breath are represented by a clear, pale shade of yellow.. uranium, derived from Uranus ... terrible skypowers ... the traveler's eager gaze is fixed rapturoursly on a distant height ... His inner robe is dazzling white..

And after seven more pages of rapturously confused symbology, Case concludes:
The Fool, then (!) symbolizes what Dr. Waite, in his Key to the Tarot calls "the state of first emanation."

The Fool symbolizes Aleph, which doesn't symbolize "the state of first emanation" or anything else we can think of. That's the whole point. Aleph is that which is beyond knowing, and if we think we understand the first card, we understand none of the 22.

More Zero Foolishness and Zero in Four Dimensions: Historical, Psychological, Cultural, and Logical Perspectives: for the confusion between Zero and Nothingness.

Only when the Tarot are arranged in their natural alpha-numeric sequence as three rows of nine, and the seven planets unscrambled, can their true relationships and whole pattern be seen and understood:

Native Positions of the Tarot According to the Sepher Yetsira
Ancient Recensions By Hebrew Letter-Astrological Correspondences

Tarot Natural Order