So, where do we start with The Fool? Is he a fool, or simply someone who is stepping into a new adventure?
Waite gives the following interpretations, ie folly, mania, extravagance, intoxication, delirium, frenzy, bewrayment. Reversed – negligence, absence, distribution, carelessness, apathy, nullity, vanity, but I would like to look at the imagery of the card and go with that. The cards are deeply layered, and also Waite puts The Fool at number 21, but this isn’t necessarily an edict, nor is it totally correct. The cards, I believe, while carrying an unshakeable meaning, also become tools of our own spiritual messages and will develop their own meaning according to the reader.
The Fool, of course, is setting out and is at the beginning of his journey. With youth and optimism (and perhaps idealism) on his side. If we were to accept folly as this card’s meaning, then almost everyone who has a reading would be guilty of that aspect, and most people are not fools, however, most people are indeed optimistic.
If The Fool comes up in a reading, and like for other cards, I would look for the cards around it to provide context. Perhaps the client has been foolish in some regard, or is perhaps heading out in a new venture without looking at the pitfalls. Is it foolish to embark on a new adventure without any sort of preamble? Not always.
What does The Fool mean if reversed? Good question. Some readers tend not to read reversals as they an make a reading more negative than it needs be. Reversed cards generally lessen the effect of the card, slow it down, or negate it completely. As for The Fool, well, maybe it just means that you are advised to step back (from the precipice) and take a longer think about what you are intending to do.