I had been working on a tarot deck a couple of years ago, Um Tarot Suja, a sex magic deck (or at least that was the idea going into the project). I wanted to stay relatively faithful to the Rider-Waite deck. So, as they say in The Sound of Music, we’ll start at the beginning.
It helps me, at least, to think of the tarot as a narration of a spiritual journey, each card progressing down the path, as it were. The first card, The Fool, has a care-free youth starting out with his/her head in the sky, not paying attention to the abyss at they are about to plunge into. At their feet is a small animal (usually a yapping dog) which tries to get the Fool’s attention. We’ve all been there, starting out on a project full of excitement and idealism, having no idea what is in store for us.
My first two attempts (the bottom two cards) had the Fool stepping out into the (literal) darkness of the unknown. There isn’t a cliff, just the nothingness of the unknown, stepping into a blackness that has no form or shape. In the two cards both women have their hands stretched out to their spirit guides, a cat and a fox (what can I say? I like cats and foxes) and while technically either card to constitute as a Fool, neither really satisfied.
The final draft has the Fool transported to a unpleasant, godforsaken alien landscape (Utah) and the abyss, the start of our journey, is a stairway to (wait for it) the heavens. The Fool must take her first step up the stairs and into the unknown, accompanied by her guide, but once she does she can go anywhere in the universe she wishes, both literally and metaphorically.