Aries as the starting point of the zodiac has always been perplexing to me. Trying to identify the beginning of a circle feels like a fool’s errand. And yet, as I look out the window and feel the blossoming vibrance of springtime greenery, soaked to the root in winter’s watery bounty, I can’t help but feel the sense of renewal and beginnings abound. There is clearly an emergence underway. There are few things as intoxicating as the opportunity to start over, few things as romantic as novelty.
As April 1st approaches, I find myself contemplating the energetics of Aries and the ways in which it feels at odds with the archetype of the Fool. And yet, by some cosmic fate, whether arbitrary or intentional, we find the two nested into one another like fabled foils or unlikely traveling companions who must figure out how to coexist in order to reach their respective next stages in their personal mythos. The process of achieving harmony can be turbulent, like the storm that ensues when high pressure meets low.
In the Tarot deck, the Fool is indicated by the number 0. Is this the beginning point or the end … or both? At first glance, the seemingly immature optimism or naivety of the Fool suggests that this is the first stage of the journey. How could we be so careless as to unknowingly step off the cliff into the abyss? And yet, the further we move into our own journey, we begin to catch nostalgic glimpses of our own ‘foolishness’ and perhaps experience an unexpected unfurling of respect and admiration for the elusive innocence and immersive presence of the beginner’s mind. If we could only get back to the state of seeing and feeling everything with that high-fidelity freshness.
Without the continued evolution brought about by the learning process, we are merely in a state of decay. There is nuanced wisdom to be uncovered here and so we revisit the Fool to see what we may have missed … again and again and again. Is this the beginning or the end? Could the emptiness of zero be what the whole thing was about this whole time?
The genetic code of novelty appears to be a little harder to identify within the Arian DNA. How and why does the Fool make a cameo in the Martian theater? The prevailing connotations of Aries do not necessarily lend themselves to an image of naivety or innocence. I suggest we begin with the inquiry: do we understand Aries as the ram or the lamb? There’s something in this question that feels akin to asking: which is the real Jesus … the baby or the man who would be martyred? Is it possible to have one without the other?
Personally, the foolishness of Aries feels like a threat to my ever-burgeoning ego. Butting our heads against the edges of our reality, our Aries selves are relentlessly asserting us in the world and fighting to exercise our agency. This takes the fire of passion, determination, and dedication to whatever it is we are trying to achieve — heat can be both the impetus and the result of movement.
With Aries, I imagine a newborn animal attempting to stand and take its first steps. What the Fool seems to keep in check is a certain arrogance that can arise from an overemphasis on individuality and achievement: I succeed solely due to my own volition. Without the ability to embrace our humility, our failed efforts will only sink us into despair — the infant cries at what it is unable to express or achieve through action. In one light, the pride and petulance of Aries is its immaturity manifest — its unrecognized interdependence with all things. Perhaps, the impenetrable optimism of the Fool is an antidote to Aries’ stubbornness and pride. How can we learn if we’re unwilling to be humbled?
Here we find an unlikely convergence point between these two archetypes, like streams of salt and fresh water intermixing. What emerges from a loose correlation of themes, contains the seed of a powerful metaphorical relationship between Aries and the April Fool. I’m unable to point to it explicitly because to do so would seem to diminish the transformation and cosmological balance that occurs from the weaving of these two energies. “Metaphor is perhaps one of man’s most fruitful potentialities. Its efficacy verges on magic …” says Jose Ortega y Gasset. These archetypes aren’t quite opposites, but neither are they kin. Their respective nods to newness, novelty, and beginnings are of slightly different flavors and they seemingly represent parts of some elusive whole.
While we can’t explicitly get into the larger existential contemplations of free will at this moment, I believe there’s something to be gleaned from the relationship between Aries and the Fool, which suggests that fatalism and free will must find ways to coexist inside of us. The dog at the Fool’s feet in the traditional Tarot deck suggests that even in our most unconscious moments we are being guided and supported by some loyal presence, whether we can recognize it or not (after all, “dog” is just “god” spelled backward). In turn, all of our actions have consequences, and so even if we exercise our conscious agency to its fullest extent, we still must deal with its effects. It seems we have no choice but to choose, even if we’re only exercising an illusion of choice.
As we make our leap into the unknown of every consequence begotten by every new endeavor we undergo, maybe we can find some encouragement in the crazy wisdom of Chogyam Trungpa: “The bad news is you’re falling through the air, nothing to hang on to, no parachute. The good news is, there’s no ground.”
Art: Walk Like You by Phil Hale