I cannot, however, recommend her focus on heroes, however informative her focus on them might be. Joseph Campbell, as the man who reintroduced the "Power of Myth" to an American audience, stressed the hero's journey as a way to imagine a life of human spiritual development. What I am going to talk about here is, however, the Fool's journey, and Fool's often, or apparently, quite the opposite to the hero.
The Fool is my favorite archetype. I may not get through it in one post; I rather doubt I will. I begin with the image above from the very well known (for English speakers) Rider-Waite tarot deck, above, because in tarot, the Fool is always with us. Notice it's the number 0- nothing. I'll address that later; in some sense, that zero designation says it all.
Like Hermes whom I mentioned in the last post on Hare and Rabbit, the Fool is a constant in human life. In fact, Hermes and Fool are very closely related in the psyche, for example, in the focus on boundaries and opposites.
Striped and spotted animals, like the tiger, also symbolize the power of discernment concerning duality, of an emerging awareness of a duality, and/or they symbolize liminality, an experience or perspective that is borderline, in between two seeming opposites. Opposites are, of course, the foundation of human dualistic perspective. From the liminal borderline perspective, we see both sides, the black and the white. Liminality shows up a lot in transformational story because it's one way to talk about the nigredo stage. Snow White's coffin time (did an interp a few posts back) is that liminal state; dead, but not-dead, a place where both sides of the coin are perceived.
Here, then, is one way to think about the Fool's 0: Center. The perspective that sees both sides is the center perspective, the liminal perspective. The clowns' stripes and the multicolored motley represent that aspect of the Fool; Fool is all inclusive, wholistic, sees both sides, and includes all perspectives (all colors), all facets of the jewel that Life is.
Thus, working with and in liminality is a Fool's work; encouraging emergence into wholistic perspectives beyond one-sided dualistic experience. This is the actual work of the jester, like the koshare. The jester is at its best when it is wise, when he/she sees the opposites for what they are, and can hold the center in the face of it, braving us to laugh at the game of opposites.
Because we are beings who live on more than one level, who play more than one game at a time, a person in our daily life who makes fun of others may be amusing at times, depending on what they make fun of (another sticky issue). But if it's done more than a little, we will always be wondering if that person is making fun of us when we're not around. Our pride and our sense of importance or even our relatively tenuous sense of self worth is shaky at the thought of being the butt of the joke.
From the other side of the fence, we don't want to cause pain for others, but we have the urge to "expose" the rear end of human behavior and its hung-up, egotistical side for what it is. Many jokes are ultimately about the ridiculousness of our conditioning: vanity, greed, our endless striving. All the effort to "get somewhere" sure is a sometimes fun game humans play, but stressful. We need to relieve the stress with laughter.
In some tribal societies, as is the case with koshare, social gatherings include his (not sure if they are ever women) very important job of "making fun" of people. From what I have read, the clown might stand behind someone and mimic them, sort of like the thing I used to do when a child, of putting "donkey ears" behind someone's head and getting everyone to laugh. He could mimic some egotistical behaviors, for instance, like cruelty to children, vanity, or a lack of courage. That public mockery might make an impression on the butt, as opposed to the thing most common in our society where you get to laugh at others, and from afar, on screens and in print, etc. In my society, we get to make believe "it's always the other fella's fart", as my Mom used to say, though a good comedian will get you to look at yourself, too.
Ultimately the point to this koshare public mockery would be healing, Hermes's domain again. It would be a sort of therapy, clown therapy, where the clown just blows up your unhealthy behaviors. reflects them, until you can't ignore it any more. It's tough love, and a sacred office in societies that acknowledge such things. Counselors from all walks of life often feel the need to "keep it real", whether it's the priest in the confessional, a close friend, or a licensed therapist. The clown brings the opportunity to face truth with the tool of laughter, a behavior whose healing effects are well known.
Doing the opposite is certainly a Foolish thing, since it exposes our obsession with thinking and living in duality and our hangups about getting it right. I brings balance to the group experience, and helps relieve the daily stress of trying to stay on the socially conditioned side of the coin all the time. We find the Fool in many fairy tales, and that's one of Fool's earmarks; he or she does not do things "right". This is the youngest brother or sister, low man on the totem pole, the stupid or silly one, who "wins" in the end, from the alchemical perspective.
Since we are members of a terribly heroic society that understands little or nothing of the sacred office of the Fool, the Fool gets comparatively little air time. Through the perspective of such a heroic society, stories like Snow White and Sleeping Beauty end up understood to involve heroic overtones (the prince as rescuer), and the female characters are often transformed in contemporary versions to heroines. Everyone wants to be a hero, to get accolades, to compete and win. The Fool, however, is contrary; the Fool wins by losing. This is ancient story-wisdom, and wisdom is indeed what the Fool "wins".
Well as is the case with all deep wisdom, there is no way to proscribe behavior for anyone, since behavior is a matter of appearances. Its appropriateness varies moment to moment, place to place, and what lies beneath is often more important than the behavior itself, as the heyoka lets us know.
However, Shakespeare here presents us with the paradoxical or triune nature of Fool. I would say that there are three meanings of "fool". Shakespeare's first fool above is the person who who imagines wisdom to be a matter of education or some other worldly valuation. This is the one who thinks himself to be wise; he thinks wisdom is some "thing" that can be attained, that the game could be defined by goal oriented games and rules. This is the sort of wisdom that is dependent on social conditioning and social values.
Worldly wise, in the sense of knowing the "ways of the world", is surely wonderful and always necessary on our human journeys. It's not Wisdom with a capital "W", though; it's not the Fool's sort of wisdom, the wholistic, nondual sort that King Lear attains by the end of the play.
The Fool follows us in tarot from birth to death because the Fool's journey is just that; the journey from Innocent Fool to Wise Fool, the third category. Shakespeare's words, "the wise man knows himself to be a fool", speak to this matter. The Wise Fool realizes many things, among them the fact there is an infinity of knowing to embody. No human being can get past the tip of that iceberg, and if they do, they find it's too big for words and they know better than to claim it as the self identified "wise man" does. Also, the Wise Fool has discovered the ultimate ridiculousness of labeling oneself.
And until the demise of monarchical government, courts such as that of King Lear had resident fools. That's because the Wise King knows that he needs to be in close touch with the Wise Fool; they are inseparable. The Wise King must govern in such a manner as to understand the humblest of human concerns, like the two mothers. Yet he needs to operate outside of them, as well. He needs an adviser/ counselor who's not buying into the conditioned social milieu, in order to open to possibilities that the average citizen has no need to entertain. That's certainly the office Lear's fool provides for him. In Celtic myth, this combination of humble Fool and Wise King is represented by the eagle that carries the tiny wren on its back.
The transformed king and queen in fairy tales represent a step made closer to this Wise Fool aspect, as do all sacred marriages (see fairy tale page) such as the one in The Golden Goose of the simpleton and the princess.
Hymn #101 Joe Pug intro D walk down on 5th string
Yeah I've come to know the wishlist of my father./I've come to know the shipwrecks where he wished.
I've come to wish aloud among the overdressed crowd./Come to witness now the sinking of the ship.
Throwing pennies from the seatop next to it.
And I've come to roam the forest past the village/With a dozen lazy horses in my cart.
I've come here to get eyed/To do more than just get by
I've come to test the timber of my heart./Oh I've come to test the timber of my heart.
And I've come to be untroubled in my seeking./And I've come to see that nothing is for naught.
I've come to reach out blind/To reach forward and behind
For the more I seek the more I'm sought/Yeah, the more I seek the more I'm sought.
And I've come to meet the sheriff and his posse,/To offer him the broad side of my jaw.
I've come here to get broke,/Then maybe bum a smoke.
We'll go drinking two towns over after all./Well, we'll go drinking two towns over after all.
And I've come to meet the legendary takers./I've only come to ask them for a lot.
Oh they say I come with less than I should rightfully possess./I say the more I buy the more I'm bought.
And the more I'm bought the less I cost.
And I've come to take their servants and their surplus./And I've come to take their raincoats and their speed.
I've come to get my fill/To ransack and spill.
I've come to take the harvest for the seed./I've come to take the harvest for the seed.
And I've come to know the manger that you sleep in./I've come to be the stranger that you keep.
I've come from down the road,/And my footsteps never slowed.
Before we met I knew we'd meet./Before we met I knew we'd meet.
And I've come here to ignore your cries and heartaches./I've come to closely listen to you sing.
I've come here to insist/That I leave here with a kiss.
I've come to say exactly what I mean./And I mean so many things.
And you've come to know me stubborn as a butcher./And you've come to know me thankless as a guest.
But will you recognize my face/When God's awful grace
Strips me of my jacket and my vest,/And reveals all the treasure in my chest?
Pug uses the heyoka's opposites. He has a dozen lazy horses in his cart; he offers the broad side of his jaw, he's witnessing the sinking of the ship. He's come here to get broke- who does that? Well, technically, lots of people do, whether they like it or not, right?
That's part of the Fool's wisdom- instead of being victimized by lack of social status, of failure from that perspective, just own it. Does "the manger that you sleep in" refer to Jesus, the holy child within us all? Surely that aspect of ourselves is a "stranger" that we keep, a stranger to most of us, anyway. I feel the Wise Fool's realization that knowledge is beyond owning in Pug's "I mean so many things". This is why the Wise Fool does not claim to be wise.
The Fool's journey is the journey of the heart, Pug knows, a journey where divine grace strips us of our outer coverings and reveals the soul's truth, the "treasure in my chest". Pug is a bard extraordinaire, a wise fool for sure!