Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

The Fool — Tarot of the Absurd

Jessica Rose Shanahan ‘If the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise.’ —William Blake


Zero is the cardinal number of the empty set and the additive identity of real numbers. It is important in field theory and it is part of every basic algebraic structure by definition.Without zero and the ideas contained in the notion of identities and inverses there would be practically no modern mathematics and physics.


The occult tarot and other metaphysical systems use allegorical significance of numerals rather than mathematical significance of numerals. Metaphysics uses the notion of identities and inverses in a philosophical manner to describe abstract concepts undefinable by means of mathematics. Mathematicians define a (seemingly) completely different set of abstract concepts using the same symbols.*


‘Only two things are certain: the universe and human stupidity— and I’m not certain about the universe.’ —Albert Einstein


The greatest problems in communication occur when people agree on the symbol used but cannot agree on the abstract concept defined by the symbol. Symbols in and of themselves have no intrinsic meaning: in every case, the meaning of the symbol is defined by the viewer. In order to facilitate communication, we try to agree on the meaning of a symbol.


At times this meaning is dictated by society. A large red octagon with a white outline means “stop,” although nothing intrinsic to red-octagon-with-white-outline implies “stop.” It is merely the meaning we have given a rather arbitrary symbol in order to help prevent accidents. In a city, choosing to believe that the octagon is not a symbol for stop may result in injury or death. On a deserted road, the octagon quite often takes on the meaning of “look both ways.”


‘The wise through excess of wisdom is made a fool.’ —Ralph Waldo Emerson


There two kinds of people (there are many kinds of “two kinds of people”): those who define symbols and those who more-or-less follow definitions. Definers-of-symbols are often great thinkers and philosophers or at least great leaders, however—


“Any fool will make a rule, and any fool will mind it.” —Henry David Thoreau.


So what is to prevent us from redefining the entire set of symbols and numbers used in the occult tarot? What is to prevent us from introducing an entirely new set of symbols and numbers to please our fancy? Nothing, other than the fact that this habit tends to frustrate communication. Historically, this has been done time and time again. Each religion defines its own set of symbols and defends this set’s concepts as true.


‘Those who wish to appear wise among fools, among the wise seem foolish.’ —Quintilian


In illustrating my own deck, I needed to determine which symbols meant something to me, which symbols meant nothing to me, and which of my own personal symbols I thought significant enough to introduce into the deck. Unfortunately for those who favor such correspondences, my thought patterns prevent me from incorporating the symbols of astrology, runes, quaballah, numerology, and other commonly associated esoteric systems into my deck. This can make my deck difficult to “read,” if one is used to working within “traditional” tarot systems. I apologize. For me, the endeavor of creating a deck was a beautiful journey of personal exploration and artistic expression. I am grateful to all who adore the fruits of my labor. Thank you.**


‘The fool doth think himself wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.’ —William Shakespeare


*I am neither a mathematician nor a metaphysician.
**Today’s undiscussed question was, “When will my baby be born?”

2 Responses

  1. cassandra022 says:

    love the quotes. and the card :]

    looks like the baby will be born whenever it wants! 😀

  2. Jessica says:

    Thanks you. And I agree; the people who said the quotes were brilliant. The rest of it is just pseudo-academic gibberish. 🙂 But I learn something tomorrow!

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