More than thirty years ago, I walked away from a job-you’d-kill-to-get and moved to Albuquerque. There was a palpable motivation in me that was similar, I suppose, to what Norwegian lemmings experience. I felt overcrowded in my habitat, and mind, and the vast New Mexico landscape proved a stronger siren than my loved one’s appeals to reason.
That was neither the first nor last time I made such a dramatic shift in lifestyle. In fact, the painting The Fool’s Journey reflects the admonitions I experienced each time I went running toward what felt like a biological imperative. The warnings never stopped me from walking into some lovely or harrowing situations. Like the townsfolk in the painting, some called me foolish, thick-headed, and dense, while others thought me courageous. I never thought about it, I felt it. I FELT where I should go or what I should do next. Then I grit my teeth and put my heart into it.
Here’s the key that’ll give you a peek inside my life:
The Fool - As a child the Fool had an open mind and simple needs. As he grew, the influences of his surroundings taught him to think and act in a particular way. He heard the chatter of the Townsfolk, the warnings of the Prophet, the encouragement of the Priest, and the questions of the Adept. Through them he learned to listen for the voice within to guide him. Here, guided by that voice, he sets out from that which he knows into the unknown. He wears a mask to protect his intent from naysayers and the harlequin’s costume to remind himself to be humble in his search for knowledge. He begins his journey from a sturdy foundation. His leg is a pencil and, with each step, he writes his story so that others may gain knowledge from his life. His mind is open and he grits his teeth with determination, ready for whatever travails he must face.
The Faithful Steed - The vehicle chosen to follow one’s path must be as open as the traveler’s mind. The Fool’s steed has large ears to listen for guidance from a soft inner voice. Its long neck allows it to breathe the air of a higher atmosphere, that is, to take in thoughts that are above the earthly plane. Its green eyes are wide open in its search for truth. Its staunch body is a strong, practical, foundation from which the Fool can view his new experiences. It wears a golden yoke studded with emeralds and rubies as a talisman against evil and to attract good health, wealth, wisdom, and success in love. It wears a blanket in which the Fool can find comfort during challenging times.
The Prophet in the Tower - The Prophet thinks he’s superior to the people in town because he can see the future. What he doesn’t realize is that his judgement of people skews his predictions. Here he’s holding a dead fish as a symbol of a warning to avoid ‘taking the bait’. He thinks the Fool is leaving the comfort of town because of some external offer.
The Adept - In metaphysical practice an Adept has achieved true enlightenment, a particular stage of initiation, or level of expertise in magic. Here, he has given the Fool a hand to teach him to question what he knows and to look for his own answers. He recognizes that the Fool’s path is his alone, but also that as an Adept he has a responsibility to offer support to all seekers on their path to enlightenment. His red cap with a feather is a sign of strong self-confidence.
The High Priest - She’s studied ALL the books of ALL the ancients and is skillful in the old ways. She practices what she believes to be true and respects all beings as manifestations of the Great Mother. She radiates love. She knows the Fool’s path is one that only he can take and she praises his courage and blesses him as he begins his journey. She oversees the town’s story and records it without prejudice. She is pleased that the Fool has chosen to write his own story.
The Book - Symbolic of the Akashic Record, a compendium of all human events, thoughts, words, emotions, and intent ever to have occurred in the past, present, or future. It is believed by theosophists to be encoded in a non-physical plane of existence known as the etheric plane.
The Dickhead - Despite knowing there is beauty, kindness, and magical experiences in the world, he keeps that inspiration under his hat. He often says witty but disparaging things to people who seek to better themselves. It is said that a cynic is a disappointed optimist. Perhaps that’s the Dickhead’s problem, but no one wants to be around him long enough to find out.
The Martyr - Woe is the life of the person who carries each experience as a burden. This person wears his albatross like a cravat so that everyone knows how hard his life has been. He serves as fodder for the Dickhead’s wit, which helps him stay in a loop of self-loathing. He says he wants his life to be better but makes no effort to change it.
Ivy - This is a hardy perennial evergreen symbolizing fidelity and immortality.