On April 1, I retire from my job at Group Health Research Institute. No kidding! It’s a big change; I’ve worked for Group Health Cooperative for almost all of the last 34 years, more than half of my life and almost half of Group Health’s.
I chose that day for practical and logistical reasons, and it also feels perfect mythologically. In most Tarot decks, the Fool is card number 0, the first card in the Major Arcana. The modern image of the Fool is that of an innocent child delightedly stepping or flying off a cliff into the unknown. From the Wildwood Tarot’s description of the Wanderer (the Wildwood version of the Fool):
“The Wanderer represents the wisdom or courage to let go, to step into the void of the possible. Something within you may have already begun this unconscious, instinctive leap across the abyss; you know it is time to move on…You may want to wait or hesitate at the critical moment because of the comfort of security, but the momentum of the Great Wheel has already sent the true heart of the Wanderer into the future, leaping across the gap with courage and joy. Now the figure must leave the burdens that have been carried so long and trust to the wings of imagination.”
I have carefully planned and scheduled my retirement, handed off tasks and responsibilities, written down for my soon-to-be-former colleagues where they can find documents they will need to carry on what I’ve been doing. I’ve worked my way down the checklist to activate benefits. But like any birth or death process – and this is both – it has taken on a life, a rhythm and energy of its own that I must simply breathe my way through until it’s complete. The Fool encourages me to let go of control and meet the enormity of the moment with open arms, a curious mind, and a willing heart.
I am leaping into my shamanic and life coaching practice and my writing full-time. Having never done so before, I don’t know exactly what will emerge. It’s a process of discovery that I eagerly anticipate. The skills, knowledge, and structures I’ve developed over the years need to be infused with the Fool’s pure, spontaneous, unknowing delight and willingness to take risks.
Last week, I dreamed:
“A cat has had three kittens. A younger woman I work with brings them to the office and simply drops them onto the floor. I’m concerned; there are lots of offices and cubicles, places they could wander and get lost. I would keep them more contained.”
On waking, I remembered that cats are connected to intuition, curiosity, and exploration of the unknown. I currently work in health research, and while these qualities are invaluable, they are contained within a certain intellectual framework. The dream gives me a glimpse of the future, when my intuitive “kittens” can wander and explore more freely.
Of course, we can’t be “foolish” all the time; we need to pay bills, show up for meetings and events on time, cross the street safely. But many of us overdo being sensible, cautious and prepared. At Spring Equinox, I encourage you to find ways, even small ones, to embody the Fool, to invite more spontaneity into your life, to allow yourself to step – or even leap – into the unknown.
 Mark Ryan and John Matthews, The Wildwood Tarot: Wherein Wisdom Resides (New York: Sterling, 2011), pp. 36-37.