Spiritual Alchemy: The Fool’s Journey

The Fool's Journey

The Fool’s Journey

The Fool’s Journey is a classic tarot story that describes the Fool, the first Major Arcana archetype, and their journey toward spiritual alchemy. Through their journey, The Fool will meet and interact with the remaining twenty-one Major Arcana archetypes.

Each archetype the Fool connects with will share a bit of guidance and wisdom. The archetype’s teachings either prepare the Fool for upcoming challenges and initiations or assist the Fool in reflecting on their experiences.

Most depictions of the Fool show this archetype at the precipice of an adventure. The Fool stands at the cliff’s edge, indicating that their next step will launch them into a journey of transformation. This archetype is excited about their journey and eagerly anticipates what lies ahead. 

Spiritual Alchemy

The Fool archetype reminds us that our goal is to transform through the process of spiritual alchemy. Of course, the alchemical process includes challenges, tests, pain, and obstacles. But thankfully, it also provides passion, hope, love, and joy. Thus, the Fool teaches us to fall in love with the experience of life and fully embrace whatever this journey has in store for us.

The Fool cautions us about the dangers of embracing the “easy” experiences life has to offer (falling in love, finding your passion, awards, and accolades) while rejecting the “hard” ones (loss, grief, heartbreak, and addiction). The Fool warns that we might miss profound growth and healing potential when we shy away from or attempt to divert the impact of life’s “harder” experiences. Instead, the Fool invites us to seek the lesson or the wisdom offered in every experience, for we will often find significant growth opportunities available when we do.

Naive? Possibly.

Sometimes the Fool is interpreted as naive or innocent. This interpretation is valid. After all, the Fool is standing at the edge of adventure, eager to learn the lessons offered by supposedly more experienced archetypes.

This neophyte version of the Fool is present in your life when you are offered a job in a new field, for example, or when you are about to make a big move to a new state or country. There is often a level of excitement that is almost child-like. You are eager to explore this new experience and enter a new phase of life. 

The Fool’s Journey: A Cyclical Lens

Although the pure and innocent version of the Fool accurately describes many of life’s adventures, I also think that we limit our view of this archetype when we only imagine the Fool as a neophyte arriving on naivete’s wings. Instead, we can consider the Fool a boxer, ready for another round—a parent, ready for another kid. Or the heartbroken prepared to love again. 

Sometimes, when the Fool archetype arrives in your life, they come to ask, “Are you ready for another adventure?” This cyclical lens of the Fool represents an archetype who has been on this journey before. Through this lens, the Fool understands that there is a potential for things to go wrong. They know that obstacles and challenges are likely. But, they choose not to dwell on those possibilities, for they also know there is magic in the potential of what could go right.

I love how the Fool archetype is depicted in the Chrysalis Tarot by Toney Brooks and Holly Sierra. In this Tarot deck, the Fool is named Merlin, and the image is that of a wise older man (think Gandalf or Dumbledore). This depiction is in stark contrast to the youthful and innocent Fool imagery in most other decks.

Running a Marathon, Again.

In 2010, I ran the LA Marathon. The race itself was not bad until I reached mile 20. I hit a wall at this mile marker and had to drag my body through the remaining miles. After that experience, I swore I would never complete a long-distance race again. 

A couple of years later, the Fool showed up and asked me if I was ready for another adventure, and my answer was yes! It wasn’t that I forgot the aches and pains, I remembered them vividly, but I also remembered the good times, the fun moments, the exhilaration. Although I knew that challenges would appear, I also knew that those challenges would be temporary, and the rewards from the journey would be plentiful.


“The hero’s journey is inside of you; tear off the veils and open the mystery of yourself.”

                                                         -Joseph Campbell


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