In the summer of 2015 I was honored to be asked to write a “Fool’s Journey Through the Tarot” ritual for SunFest 2016. My first response was to run away screaming “Nooooooooo!” I know from previous experience that there is nothing more time consuming and brain warping than writing, organizing, and directing a large scale ritual.
And then it dawned on me that The Fool’s Journey was exactly what I’ve been writing about in my blog for the past several years and it is exactly what my first book, Forging the Blade, is about.
And after doing countless readings for clients and writing my blog and book, I am a firm believer in the transformative, life changing power of tarot.
So how could I not share this amazing tool with my community?
“OK,” I said. “I’ll do it.”
Fortunately, my community is composed of many amazingly talented people who volunteered to be in or help with the ritual, who serve on Other Worlds Of Wonder, the non-profit board that runs SunFest each year, and other friends who own Ffynnon, beautiful land dedicated to hosting pagan events.
It all came together nicely.
Even the weather co-operated.
We took three days to do the ritual. Each day the ritual participants, or Fools, journeyed through Ffynnon Forest to meet the major arcana tarot cards.
What follows is the text and pictures of the ritual.
The circle is cast and the Tarot invoked. And The World appears in the circle.
I’m here to give some advice to a bunch of Fools who are starting a journey to enlightenment. And I know I’m in the right place, because I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more perfect bunch of Fools.
I’m here to tell you that you don’t need to go wandering around in the woods to find enlightenment.
It’s right here.
All the beauty and perfection of the Multiverse is right here and right now.
All you have to do is be still… and reach for it.
But because you’re a bunch of Fools, you won’t listen to me. You’ll go running around looking for something you already have.
So here’s some advice. If you’re going to be Fools, at least be divine Fools. Let go of the cares and worries and responsibilities of your everyday world.
Because you’re not there anymore.
You’re here, between the worlds, searching for something that’s right under your nose.
Only a madman would do that—so be divinely mad. Forget all your limitations and expectations.
Be like children—open to anything and accepting of everything.
Have a nice trip!
First Day, The Journey to Adulthood.
The seekers enter the forest and come upon
Who is standing in front of a bridge.
And just where do you think you’re going?
The Fools probably answer that they are seeking enlightenment.
Ah. And where do you intend to find it?
The Fools only answer will be that they don’t know but that they need to cross the bridge.
As I suspected. You haven’t a clue. Now listen up. You can’t just go wandering around expecting things to fall into place. The Multiverse doesn’t work that way. First you need to decide exactly what it is that you’re looking for. Enlightenment isn’t good enough. Each of you is looking for something different. It may be as specific as “How will I make next month’s rent.” or as general as “What do I need to do next in my life?”
But it’s a waste of your time and the Multiverse’s to ask the Multiverse for next month’s rent. Deep down inside, each of you knows what you truly need to do or to happen to turn your life into something that feeds your soul. Unfortunately, it usually isn’t something you’d choose to do for fun. Do you dare to ask for what you truly need? If you do, the Multiverse will open the way for you. But will you have the intelligence to recognize it and the courage and the will it follow it?
Take a minute and think about it.
And when you decide what you’re looking for, walk to the center of the bridge, reach up, (Magician raises his right hand which is holding a double ended wand) connect with the Multiverse and ask for guidance. Then channel the gift it gives you into manifestation. (Magician points downward with his left hand.)
Then you can go wandering around expecting things to fall into place.
Shhhhhhh. There is a secret here. Do you wish to know what it is?
Seekers answer “yes.”
Very well, then. The Great Secret is this: Your life—and the world you live it in—is a beautiful and terrifying…but instructive illusion.
That which makes up your particular and personal illusion is behind that Veil.
The purpose of your life—and yours, and yours—is to discover how to discover what is behind the Veil.
And then to do it.
Simple, isn’t it? (Shaking her head, ‘no.’) But take heart. The journey you are on right now will bring you at least a few steps closer to understanding.
In the Place of Perfect Equilibrium, I stand watch over the Gateway of Knowing. Have you any questions?
(When questioning comes to an end or no one speaks…) It is well. Now, pass on and continue your journey.
Hello, my children. And yes, you are the children of my body, for I am the Earth. The rivers, lakes, and oceans are my blood. The mountains are my bones and the rolling hills are my breasts, belly, and bottom. The wind is my breath. The fiery passion of the volcano and the raging storm reveal my awesome power. From me all things are born and unto me all things return.
And I am all the goddesses, and all the queens, and all the mothers, and all the women who have ever walked the earth.
I am fertility and abundance.
And I am famine.
I am love and comfort.
And I am hunger and isolation.
I challenge you to examine your relationships with your mother and grandmother, your sisters, your feminine lovers, and your wives; because they intimately affect how you attract and manifest abundance, and how you love, nurture, and find comfort in yourself and others.
My divine love and blessings to you, my dears.
Yeah, you got it. I am the Emperor, Big Daddy. I am big government, big business, the military, and science and industry. All the things you love to hate. But let’s think this through.
Who keeps your streets safe? And who builds and maintains those streets?
Who runs your beloved internet and makes sure you can buy anything you want on it?
Who makes sure you have all water, electricity, and gas you want?
And when you’re sick and need all kinds of fancy medical equipment, who do you run to?
And when your life and liberty are threatened by invasion, crime, or lawlessness, who defends you?
I am power personified.
I am every Emperor, King, Prince, Father and man who has ever walked the Earth.
When I’m good, I’m very very good, and when I’m bad I’m your worst nightmare.
Does your daddy love you and treat you right? Your grandfather? Your husband? Your brother? Your male lovers? Your relationship with them directly affects how you manifest your power in the world and how you get what you want.
Think about it. Be honest with yourself. And if you don’t like the answer, figure out how you can fix it.
Now, get going—you’re on an adventure, remember?
Blessings, my children. We are well met, for I am the head of a religion of great spiritual power and have been carefully trained in its secrets. Because of this, I am able to hear and understand the intent of the divine and can guide you safely and surely toward the enlightenment you seek. Follow me and I will teach you what you need to do and say and believe to have peace of mind on earth and salvation after death.
And you won’t have to walk your path alone and unsupported. My religion has stood the test of time and has many followers who will help you and teach you all that you need to know.
You may also think of me as any advisor, a teacher, a guide. Anyone who has the information you need to improve and further your spiritual, family, social, or professional life.
Take a moment and think of all the advisors, teachers, and guides you have trusted and allowed into your life. Did they deliver the information they promised you? Was it useful? Did it change your life? Was the price of their advice worth it? Were there strings attached?
Go with God, my children. And remember, there is always a place for you here.
A Man and a Woman stand at two intersecting paths.
Woman: (addressing the seekers) We’re trying to decide if we should get married.
Man: She doesn’t think I really love her even though I tell her all the time.
Woman: Yes, you keep telling me that, but it doesn’t feel like you love me as much as I love you.
Man: So what can I do to convince you I love you?
Woman: If I told you and you did it, then I still wouldn’t know if you really loved me or if you were just doing it because I told you to.
Man: You see, it’s impossible! (Turns back to woman, who is now looking up) I love you, I love you, I love you! I give you roses, I take you out to nice restaurants. What else can I do? We are totally compatible. We, both like camping and hiking and murder mysteries and Thai food. We both have good jobs and can support ourselves. I think we should get married.
Woman: (Still looking up) Yes, my love, but I have this feeling and I’m not sure what it’s telling me, but it’s something important. I just know it. I need to figure it out before I decide. (Looks directly at the seekers) Have any of you ever felt like the universe or the gods or someone up there (points up) was trying to tell you something you really needed to know and you sort of can tell what it is; but when you put words or sense to it, it feels like you’re making it up and it’s not what they meant at all?
Well, that’s how I feel.
Man: (Addressing the seekers) So we’re stuck. I think we’re going to have to wait till she gets done processing. But you’re on a Journey and you can’t wait. I think you need to go that way. (points down the path leading to The Chariot)
Woman: Yes, that feels right.
Man rolls his eyes, puts his arm around the woman and they walk off down the other path.
Yeah, I know. It looks pretty bad. There’s no way to steer this bike or make it move (holds up a wheel) But actually, it’s not as bad as it looks. I have almost everything I need to make this bike work beautifully.
And you have almost everything you need to make your life work beautifully—if you’ve been paying attention and learned the lessons of the first six major arcana.
Have you figured out your sexual identity and how to function in the sexually charged social structure of your culture?
Do you have a relationship with spirit that feeds your soul?
Have learned a marketable skill from a good teacher?
And have you learned that when you are making a decision, sometimes logic isn’t all you need? Sometimes you need to trust your heart and follow those wild, inexplicable hunches.
If so, you’re all set—except for one thing. And if you aren’t able to do this one thing you will fail. You must hunker down, put on your big kid biker panties, and actually use all those skills to make your life work. You must have focus and staying power because it’s a tough job.
See you around. I have a bike to fix and you have a journey to finish.
Day Two: The Journey to Higher Knowlege
As the seekers walk down the Path to Higher Knowledge on the second day they notice signs that say “Beware”, “I’d turn back if I were you.”, and at last “Too late!” With a roar a terrible monster jumps out at them.
I am the beast that lurks deep inside each and every one of you. I am all the anger, lust, and fear that churns and burns just out of the reach of your conscious mind, but just close enough so you know I’m there. Poke me and I lunge out and wreak havoc. I may just embarrass you, or I may ruin your life. If you try to suppress me I’ll torture your body with disease and your mind with terrible visions, phobias, and delusions.
I’m definitely not loveable, and I’m the last thing you’d want to take out to dinner. But the only way to tame me is to have the courage and strength to love me and let me out to play once in awhile—in a very safe place, of course.
If you persist and don’t give up on me.
If you’re willing to risk your sanity and way of life.
Then you may discover that I am one of your greatest strengths.
Ah, more seekers. And I suppose you’re seeking enlightenment too? (holds lantern so he/she can get a better look at the group. Hopefully they will answer in the affirmative.)
Thought so. That’s what everyone seems to be looking for once they start looking. But the thing everyone usually ignores is that to find enlightenment, you must first enlighten yourself. (holds lantern in front of his/her face) Use that light to take a good, honest look at yourself. And if you are truly honest you will find that your body, mind, and spirit need work—usually quite a bit of work.
To begin working with the spiritual realms, you must first work on the physical realm. Turn your body and your home into a fitting temple for spirit. Find a discipline that will strengthen your body and sharpen your reflexes and practice, practice, practice.
Feed your mind with study. If you are seeking enlightenment from the Multiverse, you must understand the Multiverse; and brighter minds than yours have been working to understand it at all levels for millennia. Study what they have to say. What do you know about how your body works? The cycles that make up the seasons, years, and eons? Religion? Philosophy? Quantum physics?
Once your mind and body are healthy and strong, feed your spirit with meditation and ritual.
All this involves being alone.
So go away and leave me alone. (shoos the group away—can be good natured or curmudgeonly—Hermit’s choice)
The Wheel turns slowly to the music of “O Fortuna” from The Carmina Burana.
I am the wheel, the cycles within cycles within cycles within cycles that bring birth, death, and rebirth to every being, event, and eon of the Multiverse.
I am the cycle of the revolving Earth which brings day then night then day, The cycle of the Moon from dark to full and back to dark. The cycle of the earth around the Sun from spring to summer to fall to winter and back to spring.
These cycles control and limit your world, and you ignore them at your own peril. But I have countless other not so obvious turns. Study and intuition will reveal some of them and allow you to use them to your advantage, but many will remain mysteries, beyond your knowledge and control.
These hidden cycles twist and turn within the others and bring you both good fortune and bad.
I am the Wheel.
I make you and break you and make you again.
There is no escape.
Without me, your life would be chaos. Nothing would balance. Cause would have no predictable effect. No action would have a logical and predictable reaction. Your life would be meaningless because everything you did would have no discernible meaning.
From your limited point of view, this isn’t always obvious, but rest assured that I am the force that resides not only at the center of the major arcana, but also at the center of the Multiverse. If you don’t believe me, look at your life. Every good thing and every bad thing in your life is a fair and just result of a choice you made. This is my law—it’s called karma. Sometimes it’s instant and sometimes it takes lifetimes.
I challenge you to look at your life honestly:
If everything is going smoothly and you are happy, congratulations! You have made some good decisions, either in this life or one before.
If there are problems, look back along the chain of events that led to them until you find the decision or decisions that caused them. This knowledge should give you an idea of how to fix the problem.
If you find that you are having the same type of problem over and over again because you are making the
same faulty decisions over and over again, congratulations! You have identified a theme in your life, one of the problems that you are here to fix so you can move on to something better.
If, no matter how hard you try, you can find no reason for your misfortunes, then you are paying for a mistake you made in a past life. It may be obvious from your misfortunes what that mistake was, but even if it isn’t, you will be presented with opportunities to correct it in this life. Identifying these events and working them out to their best conclusion will help correct your past life mistake.
Justice just is.
It is my hand that turns The Wheel.
As the seekers approach, the hanged man’s eyes snap open.
I have come to understand that the Multiverse is more complex and vast than I am able to comprehend; and that the knowledge I seek is not to be found in the physical, mental, or emotional realms.
I must set myself apart from everyday life, still my body, mind, and emotions, and seek the realm of spirit.
I have faith that the Multiverse has a plan for me and that, in time, it will help me to understand it.
And so I wait, with a quiet mind and open heart, for the touch of the divine.
Hanged man’s eyes close.
And so we meet at last.
Prepare to die.
As seekers on the path to higher knowledge you must die many small deaths. On this path you have become and will become many different people: a child, a teen, a doctor, a husband, a mother, a grandfather, a sage. And you will have many beliefs and attitudes: the skeptic, the victim, the bold one, the griever, the mystic. Each of these personas is but a step to becoming who you really are. When each of these masks no longer serves you, it must die to make room for the next, leaving only its memory and the things it taught you. Letting go of these self-perceptions and beliefs and allowing me to cut them away can be painful and terrifying, but it is most necessary if you wish to evolve as a human being.
And when your physical body ceases to function and no longer serves you, I am the one who cuts away your spirit, freeing it to move on to another life.
So do not fear me.
I am the thing that allows you to become your true self.
I am the archetype of the initiate.
Death steps to one side and with a sweeping motion of its scythe, gestures for the seekers to continue.
Greetings seekers! You have come far.
You have befriended and tamed the beast within you.
You have studied hard and learned the ways of the Multiverse.
You have sacrificed yourself; fearlessly opening your mind and heart to the divine, so that you might understand its purpose for you.
You have died many deaths and come to know your true self.
Your conscious and not-conscious minds are learning to speak to each other.
With this knowledge comes power and assurance. Life is nearly effortless. Tasks which used to be difficult or impossible are now simple. More often than not you find yourself in just the right place at just the right time to accomplish your goals.
Yes, you have come far, but don’t stop here. The path to enlightenment lies ahead.
Day Three: The Journey to Enlightenment
The Seekers arrive at a point where the path splits. Both choices look about the same, but one has a curtain of gold suspended across it. Before they can make a decision about which way to go a man appears. He is dressed in fabulous festival garb. He has obviously spent a lot of money at the vendor’s booths.
Let’s be up front about this. Survival is the name of the game—if you don’t stay alive, you don’t reach enlightenment right?
To survive, you have to eat and you have to have a roof over your head and so you need…….money.
Now to get that money you need to have a job. And to get a good job that you like doing and that pays enough to feed you and put a roof over your head you need an education or training.
To get this you need….money!
And where’s the joy in life if you don’t take a few fabulous vacations? Have a few nice clothes? Buy the things that make your heart sing? And party down with your friends?
Do you have kids? Then it’s your responsibility to care for them and make sure they have all their needs met and help pay for their education so they can get a good job.
All these things require………money!!
Good, responsible people pay their own way, provide for their families, stay healthy, and enjoy life. They go this way. (points to the golden curtain.)
Lazy dreamers, whackos, and deluded idiots go that way. (points to the other path)
It’s an obvious decision.
The Devil’s job is to make sure the seekers go through the golden curtain.
If the seekers opt for the golden curtain, the trail behind it quickly loops back to The Devil.
Was that fun or what?
Seekers will say no or just stare at him.
Well, if it wasn’t, you obviously weren’t doing it right! Try it again. (Gestures toward the curtain)
At this point, the seekers will probably see the trap and head off down the other path.
You’ll be sorry!
You have come far. With study, imagination, patience, and hard work you have built a life for yourself.(points to the tower) It seems perfect. Every stone is just where you want it to be. But beware. The Devil isn’t done with you yet.
It’s really a beautiful trap.
There is something in your life that needs to change, something that is holding you back. If you stay here, safely surrounded by the walls you have created to protect yourself, you will progress no further.
And it is so hard to leave.
But have no fear. The Multiverse always comes to the rescue.
There is a loud crash and a huge lightening bolt knocks off the top of the tower.
Your Tower moment could be as physical as an automobile accident, as emotional as a broken heart, or as achingly beautiful as a sunset. It might be a well-hidden land mine that explodes when you discover that an important part of your life is based on a lie. But the tower you built so carefully is always damaged beyond repair.
At this point you have two choices:
- You can build another tower and crawl back into it.
- Or you can move past the wreckage, open your heart, and allow the divine to teach you a new way of being.
Take your pick.
I offer you each a treasure to remind you of this.
Offers a bowl of quartz crystals to the seekers.
Take a crystal, a star of Mother Earth.
Feel its gift of hope, inspiration, courage, and dedication.
Hold it in your hand as you continue your journey.
She bows to the seekers and steps back.
Seekers stop in front of two pillars, one black and one white.
You have come far on your journey, but you will go no farther until you learn to let go of the physical world and enter the realm of The Moon. If you have truly learned the lessons of the first 17 cards, this will be a safe and fairly easy passage.
This realm has many names: Psychiatrists call it the Right Brain, the Unconscious; The Golden Dawn calls it The Astral Plane; Qabalists call it Yesod; Australian Aborigines call it Dream Time; Carl Jung called it The Cosmic Unconscious; Peter Pan called it
Never Never Land; and your soul calls it Home.
All inspiration, magic, and divination, begin here. It is where you need to go to talk to a god, or an angel, or an ascended master. It is a place of amazing beauty and joy, and it is a place of great danger. Your darkest dreams and deepest fears exist here. It is a place of glamour, illusion, and mystery.
Nothing in the material world exists that didn’t first exist in this realm.
It is the place you never left.
Proceed. If you dare.
It is the center of our solar system. Its light, composed of all the colors of the rainbow, and brings life to all creatures and plants on Earth.
It is a symbol of wholeness and unity. And like The Sun, I am whole.
My body and spirit, my conscious and not-conscious are one.
All things are possible to me.
I am the human that humanity is striving to become.
You are all children of The Sun. Wholeness is within you.
Never stop seeking it.
Before the first seekers arrive we ask The Tao, The Divine One, all the gods and goddesses, all the angels, saints and ascended masters, and all the spiritual teachers, guides, and power animals of every seeker to please be present, if appropriate; and to somehow reveal themselves to each seeker if and as appropriate. It is Judgement’s job to hold this sacred space for all the seekers. After the last group of seekers leaves we thank everyone we invoked for their guidance, protection, blessings, and divine presence and bid them hail and farewell.
A sustained C natural played on a French horn sounds from a speaker hidden in the trees behind her.
All around us.
Maybe you see a part of It?
It will take lifetimes, but don’t stop until you can see It all.
The note stops.
The woman puts her palms together in front of her face and bows.
The circle is cast.
The World appears once more.
So what did I tell you?
All that wondering around looking for enlightenment and It was right under your nose the whole time.
So was it worth it?
Did you learn anything?
The point is, you are all the cards. Each one of them lives and works inside each one of you.
Understanding each card and the unique way it manifests in your life helps you solve your problems more effectively and with much less trauma and drama.
The ritual closes with the major arcana cards appearing all together and doing a one card tarot reading for the Seekers.