Winter and the Moon of the New Year
Christmastide, Day 4: The Feast of Fools
Tuesday gratefuls: Kate’s forehead finally cool. Shrimp from Indonesia. Pasta from Italy. Cucumber from Colorado. Back to working out. Plans for Murdoch’s trip to Paradise. Marilyn. Joe and his methodical planning. The Tarot. Charlie Haislet. Covid. 22 days till moving day. Start packing, old man Trump.
You know this one. The squire becomes King. The scullery maid is the Queen. The nobles are servants. Lots of wine, games, salacious behavior. Then, back to normal. Yes, that was the way it was in 1512 at the court of King Henry VIII. An upending of social norms, a release valve for pent up resentments.
Of course it cemented the hierarchy as a given, as the way it is the rest of the year. But there was that brief, drunken moment.
Perceval, the perfect fool, though. The innocent of the Round Table. The one who seeks the Grail, meets the Fisher King. Gets the Grail in some accounts. The Feast of Fools follows the day honoring the Holy Innocents. With purpose, I imagine.
In the Tarot’s Major Arcana, the first card is the Fool. He’s setting out on a journey with his dog, his staff, and his few belongings gathered in a piece of cloth tied to the staff. The Major Arcana are his pilgrimage toward wisdom and enlightenment. By the end of his path he has integrated the disparate parts of himself and comes back into the world aware of its limitations and his possibilities. But, without his holy innocence he would never have begun the journey at all.
It is the fool who can see things as they might be and not as they are. I treasure the fool in me who steps back from the learned, the acculturated, the dogmatic, the given, and says, no, I don’t have to follow that star. There’s another path, perhaps a hidden one, an ancientrail created only for me.
That’s not to deny the dangers of being a fool. I’ve been on many silly, even dangerous paths while trying to find the one I needed to walk. The path of intoxication. Of power. Of lust. Of dogma. Of cynicism. Of wanderer. I have been forced to travel some darker paths than these. Living in a capitalist economy. Covid. Cancer. The trumpian miasma.
My fool lives into wonder and awe. Yes, sometimes without much sense, seeking artificial means to experience them. But counterfeit wonder reveals itself eventually. That one beer or martini too many. The slows. Imagining a revolution. Shoe horning myself back into Christianity. Marrying once, twice with little awareness. The deadening of the spirit that follows these misguided, but nonetheless instructive, paths shows the error.
The fool in me led me to try marriage once more. The sober fool found a woman, a relationship, a life with Kate. The fool in me said no, no longer, the Lord’s Prayer and the New Testament have led me astray. The pagan fool found the garden, the soil, bees, writing, art. Grandchildren. Mountains.
Of late the fool has come to the surface again, leading me away from paths I’ve followed for a long, long time. I’ll write more about this journey later, but it strips away the last of the illusions and marries the absurd to the Great Wheel. Foolishness, I know.