April Fools’ Day, officially April 1, is in the sign of Aries and is the day we play pranks on others to make them look like a fool.
In other words, we challenge their sense of self.
The smart look dumb, the beautiful are made to feel ugly, authorities have a sense of losing control.
Maybe we should practice this day more often.
What’s a fool?
For the definition and understanding of a fool, I’m going to refer to the tarot. Here’s the Rider-Waite Fool card (picture from Wikipedia), which is numbered as zero in the deck.
Let’s look at the card. It’s sunny out (nice), there are beautiful peaks in the background (nice), the fool is holding a pretty flower (nice) and looking upward (nice) while carrying a very light load (nice). Thoughts are floating seamlessly away from his head through a feather (nice).
There’s only one little problem – for all that lightness and joy, the fool is perilously close to walking off of a cliff. There is another being in the card – a dog. In “Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom” by Rachel Pollack (the only tarot book you’ll ever need), she refers to the dog as a companion.
Looking at the card, I don’t see the fool interacting with the dog. The dog may very well be warning him about the upcoming trip to the bottom of wherever. Some have dogs as pets for this very reason – to warn us of impending danger.
If this card were a movie still, what would happen next?
Would the fool fall into a great canyon to perish? Would the fool fall off the cliff to a lower plateau, “pick himself up, dust himself off and start all over again?” Is the fool so light that no fall would harm him?
Most of us travel with much more than a little bag hanging off a stick (sounds like a familiar object . . .) so we might not fall because our load would be too heavy.
Self and the world
A story of “self” is found in Ohio Senator Rob Portman’s “gay marriage conversion.” Portman, formerly against gay marriage, is now a supporter due to learning that his son is gay.
That’s nice, of course, for those who support gay marriage.
But what if Portman had never had a gay son? In order to understand the feelings of others, must we always experience those feelings directly?
Washington Post blogger Petula Dvorak also ponders this in her blog, “Why a gay son or cousin matters in the debate about same-sex marriage.” Her conclusion was that politics is about whom we know. She leaves the reader with this question:
“But shouldn’t we hope that all of our leaders — elected and appointed — have enough intelligence and empathy to believe every American deserves dignity, respect and equality? Regardless of whom they know?”
For those believing in reincarnation, Portman’s changing view based on personal experience provides a sort of justification for reincarnation. Must we live different lives in different conditions as the only way to understand others’ realities? Is it through countless lifetimes that we understand the human condition inch by inch?
Understanding others through the self
A sense of self appears to be a component of the human experience. In astrology, Aries is the first house representing “self” while its opposite house, the seventh, is “the other” represented by Libra.
Libra rules balance so self and other must be balanced.
There are people I find inspiring with regard to self because through their own sense of self they find humanity.
Consider the abolitionist movement in the United States. While slavery was a legal institution in parts of our country, many non-slave citizens simply believed it to be unfair.
A slave, on the other hand, we can assume would consider it unfair.
Former slave and activist Frederick Douglass understood something more profound than how his own experience as a slave was inhuman. He also understood that slave owning turned good people into bad people.
Slavery wasn’t bad simply for the slave. It was also bad for the slave owner. Abolishing slavery was good for humanity.
Around that same time, Elizabeth Cady Stanton was learning that she was “just a woman.” In pioneering for women’s suffrage, Stanton merged male and female into “citizen.”
In a fascinating book on Stanton “The Solitude of Self,” Virginia Gornick writes of Stanton (page 38):
“How many times over the next forty years must she have experienced that hot, hard amazement that every woman feels when forced to realize that in the cause of women’s rights men do not see the cause of humanity itself at stake; never would it seem an urgency to any but the women themselves .”
Both slavery and women’s rights are about human rights.
Philosopher and writer Ayn Rand believed that in protecting the rights of the individual, you protect the rights of all.
“Individual rights are not subject to a public vote; a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority; the political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities (and the smallest minority on earth is the individual).”
Rand was also to point out that protecting the rights of individuals didn’t mean you liked or agreed with those individuals. She differentiated the right to like or dislike with the right to take away others rights because of our own dislike.
Our Aries self
April Fools’ Day is a time to experience how others perceive your “self” through the jokes they play on you to remove that sense of self. Find the Aries in your horoscope to see where your “self” lives.
Aries is also, like the Fool in the tarot deck, a chance to experience the self in all its joy. In the tarot card, the fool is not trying to change anyone. He’s not reacting to anyone. He’s simply experiencing his self and deriving pleasure from it.
The fool’s load is light so he’s not asking for lots of stuff from others to be happy. He needs only a rose and the sun to grow her by. Existence is its own joy.
If we truly derive pleasure from our “self,” do we really want to change others? If we are truly happy with ourselves, would we want to harm others? If we truly experience the self, do we only then truly experience others?