The Fool in film (The Hobbit spoilers)

I saw The Hobbit last night and I had one of those tarot recognition moments. (Do you have those too? Or is it just me?)

This may be a bit of a spoiler technically, but you probably won’t be surprised to hear that early on in the story, the titular Hobbit Bilbo Baggins (played by my favorite charmer, Martin Freeman) is not interested in adventure. He likes his hobbit hole, with its stocked pantry and library of books and crocheted doilies. It’s cozy and warm and quiet, and his life is utterly self-contained. After an unexpected event with a bunch of loud and lively dwarves, the Hobbit summarily rejects the Wizard’s invitation to the quest. Not interested, not appropriate, not going to happen. And then he wakes up the next morning in his little peaceful hobbit house…with overwhelming need for adventure.

From The Hobbit, An Unexpected Journey, 2012

From The Hobbit, An Unexpected Journey, 2012

He races to join the dwarves and Gandalf. He knows the adventure guarantees nothing – not fame, not fortune. It doesn’t even guarantee his personal safety, he might not ever return to his hobbit hole. All he knows is that the quest will change him forever. And that’s what he is signing up for: evolution.

That, my dear readers, is the Fool card.

The Fool from the Sharman-Caselli Tarot Deck

The Fool from the Sharman-Caselli Tarot Deck

The Fool reflects that need to discover the world outside the world you have known.

Fool Medieval Enchantments

The Fool from the Medieval Enchantments Tarot Deck

The Fool card calls you to leave behind what is comfortable and cozy and self-contained for what is expansive and beyond your tribal experience. (Explore new territory, cross borders, introduce yourself to a new clan.)


The Fool from the Hanson Roberts Tarot Deck

The Fool reminds you that you don’t need a completely formed plan, but you do need a purpose. (Be inspired! Inspiration is calling you to a new adventure!)

The Fool from the Norse Tarot

The Fool from the Norse Tarot

The Fool requires you to travel light and trust that you will find what you need on your journey. (Let go of baggage, literal and metaphorical. Look forward, not back.)

The Fool from the Morgan Greer Tarot deck

The Fool from the Morgan Greer Tarot deck

The Fool represents your first steps on your very own Bohemian Path. (See what I did there?)

The Fool is also Dorothy when she tries to run away from the farm, and Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars. The Fool actually appears in film a lot, often as the protagonist (and pretty much any time a main character leaves the family farm). But my favorite Fool in Film is now our Bilbo. In that moment captured in the picture above, you feel his thrill, his joy, his urgency. His change of heart reflects an awareness of his need to be a part of a new tribe, thrilled at the chance to discover the world, honoring the opportunity to find parts of himself that he never knew existed.

Of course, the Fool is an archetype, a metaphor. You don’t have to face down orcs or green witches or stormtroopers to have a Foolish experience, but you do have to honor inspiration and step out of your comfort zone. Dear reader, I hope in this new year you heed the Fool’s call and have your very own Unexpected Adventure.


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