The Tarot Fool


Because he is unnumbered, the Fool retains his breezy mobility. how appropriate it is, then, that in one system of Tarot correspondences he represents the Hebrew letter Aleph and the element of Air.

In the oldest Marseilles tarot, the Jean Noblet deck of 1650, Le Mat is depicted with a bare backside and his genitals hanging down. The hose that used to be worn as trousers was tied up with string so that it could be opened in this manner.

The cards (illustrated below) allow us to compare Jean Noblet’s original card with Jean-Claude Flornoy’s beautifully restored version.

 Jean Noblet Tarot c1650 Le Fov

The kind of display depicted here is called ‘mooning’, displaying one’s backside to another as a sign of contempt or to shock people by upending their expectations of polite behavior. Mooning about also refers to an idle, distracted dawdling or wandering about, that’s to say, at one’s own pace unhurried by the demands of society. It is also suggestive of being ‘under the influence’ or ‘moonstruck’. Either way, the Fool has turned his back on us all and has embarked upon the isolated path, which is that of every initiate…

In this early deck the most prominent colors are Green and Azure Blue so that his image echoes the theme of the Green Man whilst the colors symbolize both Hope and a quality of expanded Awareness. There is also a touch of Yellow indicating his capacity for perseverance on his lonely path.