What is a Fool? In the month of April it is a challenge to not conceptualize the concept of a fool.
There is great beauty in the image that invokes humor, laughing, and often an endearing vulnerability. There are several colloquialisms: Tom Foolery, Fools Rush in, Only Fools Fall in Love, Playing the Fool, and of course, April Fool’s Day.
April Fool’s Day is another indelicate circumstance generated by the Roman Catholic Church.
During his reign, Julius Caesar moved the Western Calendar from the lunar cycle to the solar cycle in 46 BC (For those paying attention, that would make Jesus -45 years old). The Julian Calendar was an approximation of the sun’s orbit, and happened to be off by 10 minutes per year. By the time 1582 AD arrived – 1,628 years later – the calendar was off by roughly 11 days, complicating the seasons. More specific calculations were done based on the earth’s tropical orbit and the Roman Catholic Church declared an end to the Julian Calendar – anointing the Gregorian calendar in its place. (See the hubris of Pope Gregory XIII). However, rather than initiating the year in January, the Pope decided to have it start on Easter.
Now, back in 1582, the printing press had only been available for about 100 years and most of the population still was not able to read or understand the symbols known as letters. In addition, there were far more people who did not follow the teachings of the Catholic Church (see Martin Luther). Since Easter has always been tied to, and associated with, the Spring Equinox, several celebrators still began rejoicing the end of winter based on the Julian Calendar…11 days early – based on the now new Gregorian Calendar that is. Those that celebrated were considered foolish, and mocked and punished for not following the vices of Pope Greg. The ‘Fools’ were celebrated by being shamed as animals – with tails pinned to their backs, or tagged with fish – suggesting the need for them to go back to the sea.
Now 450 years later April Fool’s Day still celebrates the pain, shame, and guilt of not being Catholic, or not being able to read… pick one?
In actuality, the Fool is an integral part of our culture and development as humans. We need the archetype of the fool to inspire, join, and connect with one another… just hopefully no longer over the exploitation of the other.
For more on the Fool and the elemental Trickster, and how it works for us all, see “Sophocles: Mending A Broken Heart.” The book will be available in audio format later this month, and in paperback mid-May.
How do you step into vulnerability? Where do you laugh in your life? What is good humor for you? How do you embrace the seasons, and change of energy?
I look forward to hearing from you!