Oz, Tarot and the Scarecrow

The Fool in the Whimsical Tarot is the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz. He’s chasing a butterfly and is approaching alarmingly close to a deep pit filled with roaring flames. A little black dog - Toto! - stands on the Yellow Brick Road.

At first I wondered about the flames since they’re not ordinarily found on the Fool card. But then I realized that they’re necessary because a mere fall down into a pit won’t hurt the Scarecrow! However, the flames can burn him up and so represent real danger.

I point out in passing that both the Whimsical and Inner Child cards have the Fool holding or chasing a butterfly instead of the conventional white rose.

The Inner Child deck also has a card featuring the Scarecrow. In this deck he’s the Seeker (Knight) of Swords, and we see him waiting in his corn field before Dorothy comes along. There’s a crow or raven on the fence post, a rooster and hen outside the fence, and sunflowers growing inside, along with the corn.

The Scarecrow makes a certain amount of sense as the Seeker/Knight of Swords. He is, after all, seeking brains, and Swords stand for intellectual thought and communication. They also stand for strife and conflict; the Scarecrow certainly finds both of those, even though he probably wasn’t seeking them.

I suppose he makes a good Fool. After all, he has no brains! (And he looks foolish, too, flopping around with no bones.) But as he journeys down the Yellow Brick Road and faces the Wicked Witch and other perils, he gains experience, knowledge and perhaps, wisdom. He doesn’t really need the “brains” that the Wizard gives him, but he thinks he does:

Can’t you give me brains?” asked the Scarecrow.

“You don’t need them. You are learning something every day. A baby has brains, but it doesn’t know much. Experience is the only thing that brings knowledge, and the longer you are on earth the more experience you are sure to get.”

“That may all be true,” said the Scarecrow, “but I shall be very unhappy unless you give me brains.”

…the next day...

So the Wizard unfastened his head and emptied out the straw. Then he entered the back room and took up a measure of bran, which he mixed with a great many pins and needles. Having shaken them together thoroughly, he filled the top of the Scarecrow’s head with the mixture and stuffed the rest of the space with straw, to hold it in place.

The Wizard of Oz, courtesy of Project Gutenberg.

Both cards, when you know the story and know the Scarecrow and what happens to him, speak of innocent beginnings, of wanting to learn and grow, and of not quite yet trusting our own abilities. They also both hint at possible dangers to come, but dangers we have to face if we want to come down from our posts and follow our own Yellow Brick Roads.

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