OCCULT CODE GENETIC CODE A Hebrew Letter: ALEPH 2 STOP Codons G Letter Class : MOTHER PUNCTUATION A I Ching Kua : 33 RETREAT UAA A 56 THE WANDERER UAG U U 33 56
One of the main images incorporated within "THE FOOL" is that of the wanderer. Although Crowley's visual rendition does not emphasize the wandering concept, other tarot decks make The Fool look more like a tramp, hobo, traveller or wanderer than they do a clown or fool.
As the first card in the Tarot deck The Fool presents the theme and establishes the attitude of approach to the general philosophy contained in the rest of the cards. In a sense this trump is like an introduction and preface to the "book" that is the Tarot. As such it has accumulated the most conceptual content of all the cards and the connections among these concepts form the ground upon which the figures of the 21 following trumps are perceived. In its symbols and images are the latent forms of many of the other trumps. As we progress through the other characters and situations illustrated in the remaining 21 trumps we will see elements of the character of The Fool in more detail; but for now the emphasis will be upon the concept of the wandering stranger and his search for meaning and purpose in a world not of his own making and to which he was brought without choice.
For Crowley, The Fool is the primary archetype of generic humanity. His experiences, attitudes, feelings, perceptions, thoughts, and actions are those of all human beings faced with the common central fact of existence - each of us wanders alone, a stranger in a strange land, seeking an individual meaning and purpose for our lives. At the bottom of all of our individual differences there lies this ultimate common reality; this shared experience of aloneness in the midst of community. The unexpectedness of it all and the innocence with which we each begin our wandering conspire to produce a state of unease or even dread which often makes the journey seem tragic or terrifying.
When referring to this trump Crowley often makes it a point to include the concept of wandering as part of its description: "The Wandering Fool" (p. 46 of "777 and Other Qabalistic Writings"); "The Legendary Wanderer" (p. 19 of "The Book of Thoth").
What attitude does Crowley deem most appropriate for the journey?
Crowley: Wander alone, and sing! In the king's palace his daughter awaits thee. ... (BT p. 254) for he (Harpocrates, an Egyptian deity cognate with The Fool) is the All-Wandering Spirit, the Pure and Perfect Knight-Errant, ... (BT p. 120)
Crowley: Go back in history ... to the time when succession was not through the first born son of the king, but through his daughter ... the new king was always a stranger, a foreigner ... the foundation of the legend of the wandering prince - and note well, he is always `the fool' of the family. (BT p. 54-55)
A similar story is told in kua 56. The wanderer in the Chinese story does not become a king by marrying the king's daughter; but he does acquire a high position within a ruler's government. He attains this high position in the following manner.
Kua 56, line 5: HE SHOOTS A PHEASANT. IT DROPS WITH THE FIRST ARROW. IN THE END THIS BRINGS BOTH PRAISE AND OFFICE. (p. 219)
Consider this interesting parallel with the story of Parsifal.
Crowley: ...Parsifal...represents the western form of the tradition of the fool...Parsifal in his first phase is Der Reine Thor, the pure fool. His first act is to shoot the sacred swan. (BT p. 59)
Other weapons play a role in the wanderer's adventure. Parsifal obtains the sacred spear and the wanderer of kua 56 acquires an ax. I am not the only one who sees a portion of the Parsifal story in kua 56. Hellmut Wilhelm is Richard Wilhelm's son and an authority on the I Ching in his own right. He adds an insight into the meaning of line 6 of kua 56.
Kua 56, line 6: THE BIRD'S NEST BURNS UP. THE WANDERER LAUGHS AT FIRST, THEN MUST NEEDS LAMENT AND WEEP. THROUGH CARELESSNESS HE LOSES HIS COW (OX). MISFORTUNE. (p. 219)
Hellmut Wilhelm: The burning of the nest reminds one of the conflagration of the Twilight of the Gods, which ends the fate of the Wanderer in Western mythology. (p. 186 of "Heaven, Earth, and Man in the Book of Changes")
Richard Wilhelm's interpretation of line 6 demonstrates why the wanderer can be given the epithet of "fool."
R. Wilhelm: (kua 56 line 6) If he lets himself go, laughing and jesting, and forgets he is a wanderer, he will later have cause to weep and lament. (p. 219)
This advice is a reprise of that given to the wanderer in the first line of kua 56.
Kua 56, line 1: IF THE WANDERER BUSIES HIMSELF WITH TRIVIAL THINGS, HE DRAWS DOWN MISFORTUNE UPON HIMSELF. (p. 217)
Wilhelm: (kua 56 line 1) ... a stranger is mistaken if he hopes to find a friendly reception through lending himself to jokes and buffoonery. The result will be only contempt and insulting treatment. (p. 217)
"RETREAT," kua 33, doesn't contain very much in the way of allusions to Crowley's fool, but it does complement kua 56 by providing a possible rationale for the beginning of the wandering.
Kua 33, The Sequence: THINGS CANNOT ABIDE FOREVER IN THEIR PLACE: HENCE THERE FOLLOWS THE HEXAGRAM OF RETREAT. RETREAT MEANS WITHDRAWING. (p. 550)
Perhaps we can read into these statements a philosophical principle that causes The Fool to withdraw from his abode, shoulder his pack, and take up the way of the wanderer. The kua uses military images and concepts and its advice is designed to insure the continued ability of the leader, the last stage in the evolution of The Fool, to pursue his role as defender of the realm. This advice might just as easily be given by one of Crowley's cognates for The Fool.
Crowley: ... Harpocrates, God of Silence, is called "The Lord of Defence and Protection". (BT p. 120)
Another possible interpretation for the retreat or withdrawal depends upon an aspect of the more traditional visual renditions of The Fool. Other decks portray the young fool wandering perilously close to the edge of a cliff. His lack of awareness is symbolized by his eyes being turned upward or focused on some other object in the card. It is, of course, folly to be so engrossed in reverie as to be unaware of dangers which would be apparent to a more experienced traveller. A retreat from the abyss, a withdrawal from danger is called for. A more experienced traveller may approach, even cross, the abyss and continue his wanderings on the other side.
The Hebrew letter assigned to The Fool is ALEPH, which means "ox." In line 6 of kua 56 the wanderer loses his cow through carelessness, but many other interpreters of the I Ching translate the Chinese character for cow as ox. Wilhelm interprets the loss of the cow (or ox) as symbolic of the wanderer's loss of modesty and adaptability. Other interpreters speak of the loss of the wanderer's ox-like docility. Kua 33 also makes passing mention of the ox.
Kua 33, line 2: HE HOLDS HIM FAST WITH YELLOW OXHIDE. NO ONE CAN TEAR HIM LOOSE. (p. 131)
Wilhelm interprets this image as representing the inferior man holding on tightly to the superior man; indicating a desire on the part of the inferior man to hold to what is right.
The evolution of humanity from a simple wandering primitive to a complex urbanized sophisticate is the theme of both kua 56 and The Fool. On the spiritual level of interpretation the problem is one of how to maintain a natural innocence and simplicity within a world that erodes those traits. The Confucian philosophy of the I Ching is one approach. The mystical and magical path of Crowley's individualism is another. However, both of these paths are trodden by the ox, a symbol of wildness tamed, since the ox is a bull that has been castrated in order to make him gentle enough to be useful for field work.
The I Ching describes a mythic history of the civilizing of man.
Wilhelm: The Pai Hu T'ung* describes the primitive condition of human society as follows:
"In the beginning there was as yet no moral nor social order. Men knew their mothers only, not their fathers. When hungry, they searched for food; when satisfied, they threw away the remnants. They devoured their food hide and hair, drank the blood, and clad themselves in skins and rushes. Then came Fu Hsi and (he) looked upward and contemplated the images in the heavens, and looked downward and contemplated the occurrences on earth. He united man and wife, regulated the five stages of change, and laid down the laws of humanity. He devised the eight trigrams, in order to gain mastery over the world." (p. 329) *[Written in the Han period by Pan Ku (A.D. 32-92)]
Crowley tells us that the key to an understanding of the occult wisdom contained in his tarot lies in the relationship between the two trumps, "THE FOOL" and "ADJUSTMENT (JUSTICE)." The Hebrew letter associated with "ADJUSTMENT" is LAMED, which means "ox-goad." Concerning this relationship more will be said when we examine "ADJUSTMENT," but for now it may be instructive to note that the I Ching, in its Confucian context, was a manual for the efficient and just administration of the state and a text to aid in the development of a civilized, highly refined citizen. The legendary author of this book is Fu Hsi, and his name means "The Ox Tamer."**
** From "Chinese History of Fifty Centuries", vol. I "Ancient Times", Chang Chi-yun, trans. Chu Li-hen, Institute for Advanced Chinese Studies, 1962, Taipeh Taiwan.
Fu Hsi, "The Ox Tamer" is credited by the I Ching with bringing the civilizing power of law to the wild and nomadic humans that he encountered. The ox-goad is a tool for controlling the behavior of the ox. Laws are the means for controlling the behavior of humans and regulating the interactions which define a civilization. Trump VIII, "ADJUSTMENT (JUSTICE)" is the card which most clearly refers to law and the just enforcement of law.
When contemplated in conjunction with trump VIII it is possible to interpret The Fool as being symbolic of early man. Before the development of urban centers the condition of man was nomadic. The wandering groups were strangers to the new lands they encountered. Since agriculture and animal husbandry were necessary developments preceding the rise of urban centers, the taming of the ox may be seen as a metaphor for the civilizing of man.
A spiritual interpretation would point out that the "RETREAT" described in kua 33 is the descent of spirit into matter. Having existed previously in the abode of the spiritual the soul finds itself wandering in unfamiliar lands as a stranger. The goal then becomes a struggle to remember that one is but a visitor in the material realm and therefore one should not adapt completely to earthly temptations and influences since that would entail a renunciation of the spiritual imperatives which will be needed when the spirit is compelled to return to its true home.