April Fools' Day
All readers will receive a free trip to Ireland just for reading this line.
I wish I could gift you all a trip, but I do hope reading this blog connects you to Celtic lands vicariously and promotes new travel experiences as well. We are wrapping up the Snapshots: Travels in Ireland project that will offer Cork, Kerry, Clare/Limerick and Galway/Aran Islands on Kindle as well as Amazon in the next two weeks. Please at least browse them when the announcement comes out.
Normally, the first blog of the month is devoted to an Oracle or Tarot card chosen randomly from a Celtic deck. This month I am “stacking the deck”, i.e. I have intentionally selected The Fool, the first card of the tarot. The card above is taken from The Rider-Waite tarot deck (originally published 1910).
It symbolizes the beginning of a major journey wherein the journeyer steps freely, innocently and without attachment off the cliff and into the new. Foolish perhaps, but also a universal sign of the wisdom of surrendering to the Universe, to a Power greater than ourselves, to God. The major Arcana or Great Mystery incorporates ancient wisdom, Druid tradition and early Christianity. Thus, the first card starts the beginning of The Hero’s Journey, the central story of the Christian era.
Despite all the superstition and taboo that the Catholic Church created in modern times to dispel the use of tarot cards, during medieval times storytellers and court jesters used the cards to keep the Christian story alive among those who were not allowed to read and before the printing press brought the Word of God to common folk.
There is also speculation that April Fools’ Day was tied to the vernal equinox, or first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere, when Mother Nature fooled people with changing, unpredictable weather.
April Fools’ Day spread throughout Britain during the 18th century. In Scotland, the tradition became a two-day event, starting with “hunting the gowk,” in which people were sent on phony errands (gowk is a word for cuckoo bird, and was also a symbol for fool). I have read that the second day of the celebration was called Tailie Day. It seems that this is where we get the children’s party game Pin the Tail on the Donkey, and of course, a donkey is an ass or fool. To think that silly pranks like pinning fake tails or “kick me signs” on people’s backsides was ritualized for this festival seems weird to me, but it is always fun to trace traditions back to earlier folklore.
Friends and I stayed in the Irish town of Kinvara last May during their Cuckoo Festival. Sadly, we didn’t see any cuckoos, nor did we see anyone getting donkey tails pinned on them. But we did enjoy the music and festivities. Later in the trip I heard cuckoos and was delighted to see a nest or two but none appeared to us in Kinvara.
May your day be filled with only gentle tricks and surprises, a happy beginning of spring and a wonderful thoughts of a travel journey or an inward journey of reflection.