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News about the Fool, Hermit, and Sun

September 15, 2014

Subtitle: Fooled by nothing, enjoying the solitude of a hermit, and optimistic as a new day

I often read interesting articles that have some great material that I can associate with specific Tarot cards. As I make those associations, that process makes me think more deeply about the content of the particular article, and it leads me into deeper understandings of the cards themselves. Recently, while reading an article on The Daily Good, I came across some interesting information about the concept of “nothing,” I discovered some valuable insights about issues concerning loneliness versus solitude, and I found out about the power and value of optimism. This provided me with a lot of food for thought about a few cards—the Fool, the Hermit, and the Sun—all of which I hope will expand your understanding of those cards too.


The Fool -- Tarot of the MastersThe Fool:

In a recent blog post titled “Tarot Questions Instead of Answers” I noted that each of the cards can suggest questions that can stimulate thought-provoking discussions. The article noted above suggested a few such thought-provoking questions that we might associate with the Fool card.

This card has the fascinating distinction of being numbered Zero. (How often do you see a numbered system in which one item is labeled Zero?) As such, the Fool is sometimes considered in light of the concept of “nothing” or “nothingness.” But what does that mean? Isn’t the existence of nothing an oxymoron since nothing implies non-existence?

The article I read references a book called Nothing: Surprising Insights Everywhere from Zero to Oblivion. It is “a collection of essays and articles exploring everything from vacuum to the birth and death of the universe to how the concept of zero gained wide acceptance in the 17th century after being shunned as a dangerous innovation for 400 years.” This implies a few very interesting questions that the Fool card might suggest. For example:

If you want a science-oriented discussion: “What came before the big bang?”
If, however, you want a religious discussion: “Where did God come from?”

Both of these questions have a basis in the eternal question, “Where does everything come from?” How can you get something from nothing, or do you have to assume that everything has always been there? That assumption, however, just substitutes the unfathomable notion of infinity for the unsettling notion of something from nothing. Which is easier to wrap your head around?

Also, in a twist on the metaphysical question of “Does anything really exist?” we can ponder the question: “Does ‘nothing’ exist?” Science has been pondering that one a lot recently since we have found that the vacuum of space isn’t as empty as we would like to think, and although scientists have achieved temperatures extremely close to absolute zero, that extreme seems ever just out of reach. So, as noted above, isn’t the existence of nothing an oxymoron since nothing implies non-existence?

Finally, here’s another “nothing” to think about:

What happens when we try to think nothing, i.e., to not think any thoughts? Is that even possible?

So there you have some interesting topics of discussion suggested by the Fool card, which ought to give you something to do the next time you’re on a road trip. (Ironically, there is always something we can say about nothing.) Perhaps, also, this consideration of “nothing” can lead you to more insights into the meaning of this card. What do you think? I doubt that nothing comes to mind!


Hermit -- Tarot of the MastersThe Hermit:

Next, let’s look at the Hermit. This card is sometimes interpreted as “solitude” but we might also see it as “loneliness” (a shadow aspect of solitude) if it is reversed or in a problematic position or aspect. Consequently, any insights into the subjects of solitude and loneliness are valuable in expanding our interpretation of this card, especially if we do readings that are intended to have a healing quality.

The article referenced at the beginning of this post talks about how loneliness affects people, and how important social interactions are for your health and well being. For example, studies have shown that the ill-effects of loneliness are so dire that curing it is as good for your health (if you are lonely) as giving up smoking is for a smoker. Thus, people who have rich and supportive relationships get sick less and live longer than those who don’t. (Of course, the amount of social interaction needed varies from person to person.)

Although we may be able to arrive at these insights on our own (it does seem logical that loneliness can be bad for you), there are a couple of deeper revelations in this article that are not so obvious. First is the way that loneliness can be addressed. Ending it is not just about spending more time with other people; it involves an attitudinal shift, according to John Cacioppo, a University of Chicago psychologist. He says that “lonely people become overly sensitive to social threats and come to see others as potentially dangerous. … Tackling this attitude reduced loneliness more effectively than giving people more opportunities for interaction or teaching [them] social skills.”

The other surprising revelation is that meditation, which typically is (ironically) a solitary practice, is of great benefit in overcoming the problems associated with loneliness. This brings the Hermit full circle, from the problems of loneliness to the benefits of solitude.

Another aspect of the Hermit card is its suggestion of soul searching. This article also addresses that issue as follows:

Perhaps the most striking finding in exploring how our beliefs affect our bodies has to do with finding your purpose and, more than that, finding meaning in life.

Indeed, it says that living your life in a way that you find meaningful has a profoundly positive impact on your health and wellbeing. And so the Hermit’s practices of meditation and soul searching (both of which can be very solitary efforts) are of great benefit to our wellbeing, but so are meaningful social relationships, which seem to be about the last thing we would imagine the Hermit to suggest.

Thus the Hermit can be either a good example or a dire warning, depending on how we interpret what this card is saying in any given reading.


The Sun -- Tarot of the MastersThe Sun:

The Sun card is sometimes interpreted as being about optimism, which is the topic of a website that the article above led me to. The following are excerpts from it that can lead us to see some valuable advice that we may associate with this card.

Optimism … keeps our minds at ease, lowers stress [and anxiety], and improves physical health. This is probably [its] most surprising benefit. All else being equal, optimists are healthier and live longer.

Optimism [may sometimes be] irrational … but [it] also protects and inspires us: It keeps us moving forward… To make progress, we need to be able to imagine alternative realities, and not just any old reality but a better one; and we need to believe that we can achieve it.

So perhaps the next time this card comes up in a reading, you may interpret it as an indication of the great power and value of optimism. Remember: “All else being equal, optimists are healthier and live longer.”


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