The Fool is the first card in the Major Arcana (followed by The Magician), yet he is number 0. He stands at the precipice of the known and the unknown, the conscious and the unconscious, the past and the future. This card represents the essential self, that mysterious part of our spirit which is unchanging and eternal.

The Fool Tarot Card Upright and Reversed Keywords
The Fool tarot card upright and reversed keywords.

The Fool’s astrological correspondences are to the element of Air and to the planet Uranus. Uranus, the planet of unexpected change, breakthroughs, and freedom from convention, is connected to both the ancient Greek god of the sky, Ouranos, as well as to Prometheus, the Titan who stole fire from the gods and gave it to humanity for the creation of civilization.

The Fool Keywords

Upright keywords

Reversed keywords

potential, freedom, and expansion; breakthroughs and insights; new beginnings

recklessness, lack of foresight, self-doubt or indecision, disconnection from authentic desires

Description of the Fool Tarot Card

The Fool is card #0 or Key 0 in a tarot deck, suggesting that he stands outside the order of the linear numerical progression of the Major Arcana and metaphorically outside of linear time. Because the Major Arcana is often referred to as “The Fool’s Journey,” we can conceive of the Fool as the protagonist who encounters and assimilates the lessons of each Major Arcana card that succeeds him.

In the classic Rider-Waite tarot deck, The Fool is pictured on the edge of a cliff, head tilted back in the breeze, arms open wide as if to embrace the totality of the present moment. He may be unaware of the challenges that lie ahead (represented by the snowy peaks in the distance), but he possesses the courage and optimism necessary to embark on a new journey.

His flowery tunic looks out of place on the mountaintop, suggesting that he’s left behind a former life in search of a new adventure. The bindle over his shoulder suggests a detachment from the trappings of material existence, while the white rose in his left hand symbolizes the purity of his intention. His canine companion, the white dog at his heel, reveals that he’s connected to his own instinctual and irrational nature.

The Fool Upright Tarot Meaning

In the upright, The Fool represents a new opportunity, a fresh start, or the emerging desire for freedom and expansion. It is an encouragement to follow one’s intuitive hunches, in essence, to take a leap of faith. The Fool suggests that there is wisdom in one’s deeper, mysterious urges and to cultivate faith in life as it unfolds.

The Fool is wise because he possesses the naïveté to trust his instincts and to admit his ignorance. He doesn’t look where he’s going because he has a deep faith in the process of life itself. He’s not afraid of loss because he knows the sun will always rise again tomorrow.

This archetype represents the part of us that desires to act against tradition and convention, forge our own unique paths, and lead with our most authentic selves. It is a potent reminder to stay connected to these urges and instincts because if ignored or repressed, these urges, when misdirected, can lead us towards erratic behavior, restlessness, or rigidity.

He reminds us that although we may sometimes lose contact with our essential self, like energy, it cannot be created or destroyed—it is always there, pulling us forward because there’s no turning back: the road ahead will always lead us back home.

Upright love keywords

Upright career keywords

openness, vulnerability, a new relationship, adventure, spontaneity

new opportunity, rewards for taking risks, innovation, youthful energy

Love and Relationships (Upright Meaning)

In the upright position, The Fool is an encouragement to take risks and ardently pursue the object of your affection. The Fool encourages a courageous approach to a new relationship and the embracing of new opportunities for connection with a spirit of openness, vulnerability, and play.

Because The Fool is connected to freedom, it can also represent the desire for a relationship that honors each person’s innate autonomy and individuality. In an existing relationship, it can symbolize the need for newness and the desire for  more adventure, spontaneity, and exploration.

Career and Finance (Upright Meaning)

In a career tarot reading, the upright Fool suggests a new opportunity with great potential on the horizon. Because The Fool is at the beginning stages of a journey, following through on new ideas or projects can bring material rewards down the line.

It is an encouragement to expand beyond the horizons of the known and to embrace new ideas that break from convention. It indicates a new venture is likely to bring financial success, and that thinking outside the box will bring the greatest rewards. It urges the cultivation of an open mind, a spirit of innovation and experimentation, and a willingness to embrace the process of discovery along the way.

The Fool Reversed Tarot Meaning

In the reversed position, The Fool can indicate hesitancy or fear around starting a new venture or embracing a new opportunity. This could be due to self-doubt, lack of commitment, or because more preparation, planning, or foresight is needed. It can also suggest that more introspection is required to come back into alignment with your true needs.

The reversed Fool suggests that the fear of moving outside of your comfort zone may be keeping you small. It is a reminder that you have everything you need within you, but you must face your fears of taking on a new challenge and contact your inner sense of courage, strength, and resilience in order to move ahead with confidence.

It may also suggest that you may have strayed off course from your true needs or desires, either because you are ignoring a persistent gut feeling or you are repressing your true need for freedom of expression. This could lead to behavior that appears reckless or rash and might represent a symptom of a larger problem—a feeling of disconnection from self.

The Fool reversed cautions against taking unnecessary or excessive risks at this moment. There may not be enough information available to make informed choices, or you may be blinded by a sense of restlessness and urgency. These feelings are valuable information, but you may benefit from resisting the urge to act on them impulsively.

Reversed love keywords

Reversed career keywords

Fear of vulnerability or emotional intimacy, hesitancy around beginning a new relationship, ignoring gut feelings or red flags

Caution against taking unnecessary risks, more planning is needed, a need to cultivate belief in self and one’s earning abilities, a need to reconnect to an inspiring vision of life

Love and Relationships (Reversed Meaning)

In a love tarot reading, the reversed Fool can indicate a resistance to emotional intimacy or vulnerability that is rooted in fear of rejection. It suggests that you may be hiding your true self and that more openness is needed to move a relationship forward. Conversely, it can indicate that you are pursuing a relationship regardless of known negative consequences or that you’re ignoring your deeper gut feelings that are urging you to take a step back.

This card asks you to examine your fears around relationships and intimacy. Deeper introspection will shed light on the nature of this fear. Is your fear wisely pointing you away from a partner who is not in alignment with your highest good? On the other hand, is this an inner fear that can be soothed by courageously opening up to a heart-centered connection with another?

Career and Finance (Reversed Meaning)

In the reversed position, The Fool indicates fear or hesitancy around embracing a new opportunity or starting a new job. It cautions against excessive risk-taking, which could lead to unforeseen losses, and encourages a consolidation of resources. It may indicate that you would benefit from pausing and re-assessing the path forward before taking further action.

The Fool in the reversed position also asks you to examine the fears or anxieties that might be present around your ability to generate the material resources that you need. You may be feeling stalled and unable to move forward, either because of external circumstances or because of inner fears. You may benefit from pausing to consider the root causes of these fears and reconnecting to what inspires you professionally or educationally.