Follies of the Fool

A few weeks ago, with the anticipation of April Fools Day, I was scheming up tricks I could play on my social media networks.  Faking that I was pregnant, announcing I was engaged, proclaiming a move to Australia…. thinking such silly ideas, I began to reminisce fondly about April Fools past.  

When my dad was alive, April Fools Day was a bit of a tradish…. a holiday we would warily and excitedly await with a mix of dread and mischief knowing that by days end we would be left with the result of some epic stories to share once we'd survived the day.  Not disappointing us, my dad would go all out: giving us trick gum that colored our teeth red, strategically placing fake ants along the wall by the coffeepot that looked real from sleepy eyes first thing in the morning and sans glasses for the nearsighted members of the family, moving the position of our beds while we were sleeping in them, hitting the spare garage door opener from inside the house as my mom was attempting to leave in her car, hiding a stink bomb sneakily under the toilet seat that caught the unsuspecting victim in a cloud of rotten egg stench.  He even went so far one year to set all the clocks in the house ahead one hour and calling my mom on his lunch break at the "usual" time so as not to have us suspecting until the moment my mom thought she'd be late for a girlfriends' date.

I'll be honest: I HATE getting tricked.  Walking around being on your toes with a sense of dread while tentatively moving through the day as if someone where going to pop out at any moment and say "boo" is not my idea of fun.  I'm gullible, jumpy, and easily taken by surprise.  Practical jokes and pranks are the bane of my existence.  But as I was thinking back, my dad was never malicious in his attempts.  He never meant to cause harm or lingering damage to the psyche.  It was playful.  Fun.  A witty game to bring some excitement to an otherwise normal boring day.  And actually we loved to regale all the tales of woe to our extended family after the fact (no damage was done!).  Which got me wondering…. perhaps there is something deeper and meaningful about this silly holiday.  Which inspired me to reflect on April's FOOL.  The Fool.  What about the essence and character of the fool can we take away and use as a greater lesson in our lives?

Image: "Golden Rain" by Victor Nizovtsev

Image: "Golden Rain" by Victor Nizovtsev

In order to learn more about this archetype, I reached out to my friend and fellow healing artist Elyse Jolley (check out her work here.  She's a gem!).  Elyse has done extensive work with the archetypes in her theatre work, using song, journeys, breath, and movement to explore characters and she was able to enlighten me about our glorious fool.

The fool, she says, is unpredictable, entertaining, intelligent, shrewd, witty, deceptive, manipulative, pleasing, eloquent, gracefully clumsy, charming, and playful.  In many of the stories and locations where the fool (also known as the "trickster") shows up, he is a commoner, a servant, poor.  Dressed in rags or peasant clothes, he relates to the common man.  With a witty intelligence and clever thinking, his strengths lie in the mental mind, putting on a show, playing off of others, and keeping things light instead of too precious.  Through juggling, storytelling, practical jokes, acrobatics, songs, satire, and quick response, the court jester performs to please the audience; reading them and using creativity to give them what they need.  In Shakespeare, the role of the fool could play to both worlds in terms of social standing by speaking to the level of the higher class while making the groundlings roll over in laughter with physical comedy. 

The fool's game is a Simon Says-esque "maybe!… maybe not!" type game that Elyse says is really fun to play because its a mysterious, dodging, playful energy that is constantly moving and shifting directions in a zig zag of ways.   Or, on the other end of the spectrum, the fool energy can be completely still outwardly whilst the scheming and plotting mind is whirling and ready to jump into action in a moments notice.  Light on the toes and never linear in a straight line, the fool never gets stuck in a pattern, is never the underdog, and is always a survivor.   

Elyse also shared that in the tarot, the fool is "walking to the brink of a precipice carrying a satchel of possessions which symbolize the untapped collective knowledge that he is bringing with him.  Courageously stepping out into something blindly, yet willingly, with courage and trust that the unbridled awakening within the satchel will be of aide". 

So the fool brings to us this example of playfulness, curiosity, adventure, courage, trust.  Do any of the characteristics of the fool resonate with you?  Where might we need to call on these energies to infuse certain areas of our lives with this spritely and brave energy?  After the cold hibernation time of winter, do you feel stuck in a pattern or a rut?  Where have we gotten too serious and need a little more light-hearted, playful energy?  Where can you bring in your creativity to create the life you want to live?  Where might some tricks come in handy in mixing things up and bringing inspiration to cleaning out for spring?

I'll share that, for me, I think April's fool and the memories of my dad are here to teach me to bring more pleasure and play into my life, especially into my business and healing work.  I have a tendency to take things really seriously and I allow stress and worry to cloud my vision.  Bringing a bit of fun to the tasks on my to-do list, reveling in the sweetness of life, and really enjoying the creation process as I'm growing, healing, and nurturing my projects, rather than being focused on the end result, will help me to feel free and joyful in the day to day.  It's a journey after all and I'm ready to leap off the edge of the precipice into April with trust and courage and bravery.  No tricks about that! 

I'd love to hear from you - send me a note or a comment below!

Light, love, and lots of foolish energy to you on this April Fools Day!