What Does The Fool Card Mean In Tarot, And Why Is It So Important To Beginnings?

Tarot cards don't each stand alone; the entire deck works together to tell a story in which the 22 major arcana cards (like the Magician, Temperance, and the Sun) make up the main cast and the 56 minor arcana cards provide the supporting roles. So when a major arcana card like the Fool shows up in your reading, that's your cue to pay close attention. In fact, the sequence of the major arcana cards is based on the concept of the Fool's journey, which is a metaphor for the journey through life's many phases and experiences that shape your personal growth. Since the Fool is present throughout the entire progression of the story through the major arcana, the card depicting the Fool is numbered zero and can be placed at either end of the sequence, representing the start of something new.


The imagery on the Fool card within the classic Rider Waite deck depicts a young man gazing up at the heavens as he approaches a cliff, blissfully unaware that he is about to step over the edge. He carries his belongings over his shoulder in a bundle, holds a pure white rose to represent innocence, and travels with a small dog who guides and protects him. In the distance, there are challenging mountains looming, but the Fool is unconcerned, eager to start his journey into the unknown. Here's how to interpret this card within a tarot reading — and what it might mean for any new beginnings you've been considering.

The Fool upright

Don't be insulted if the Fool comes up in your reading — it's (usually) not an indication that you or someone you know is being foolish. Rather, the Fool appearing upright in a tarot reading is a very clear sign that it's time to go ahead with whatever you've been putting off. No more waiting until you have more time, more skills, or more money; the time to take a leap of faith and jump into a new situation is right now. Let the Fool inspire you to have faith in yourself and in the universe, and head straight for that cliff. You may not be able to see the whole journey — and all its potential perils — from the beginning, but that shouldn't stop you from getting started.


This card is about making the choice to go ahead with exactly what you really want in life, even in the face of self-doubt. Whatever happens as a result of your leap of faith, good or bad, is just information for you to use to adjust your approach in the future. For now, the important part is to stop hesitating and get started. Gather up all your courage, leave your doubts behind, and charge full steam ahead.

The Fool reversed

Not everyone reads reversals (upside-down cards) the same way — for instance, a reversed card could mean the opposite of an upright card, increased or decreased emphasis on the original meaning, or simply even a warning to pay extra attention to that card — but many readers interpret them a little differently than the upright version. So when the Fool card shows up reversed in a tarot reading, it may be a sign that you're taking the free-spirited nature of the Fool a little too far or too literally. You may be engaging in behavior that is inherently risky without considering the potentially serious consequences for you or others in your life. There is a difference between taking a leap in good faith and acting negligently without care for your future or for those around you.


If you've received the Fool reversed in a reading, it's time to get very real with yourself. Ask yourself whether the risks you've been taking are in the name of true trust and faith in the universe or just an excuse to act with reckless disregard. When the card appears in a reversed manner, it may be helpful to pull another card from the deck with the intention to clarify the information being relayed by the Fool. After all, no journey is complete without guidance along the way — so pay special attention to any additional information your reading may reveal about your fresh start or new venture.