The Fool's Journey (a selection)


It's nearing the end of summer, songbirds, and that means it's road trip season. Whether you're going back to school or just trying to prolong the sunshine before autumn gets here with its decrescendo days, September is always a time of travel, of movement, of flux. In this way, it's quite a bit like the Fool's Journey in tarot. You start off with big dreams about a road trip with a vague destination in mind, and somehow find your way through to the end. And by now you know that no road trip is complete without a good playlist.

0. THE FOOL: "Drive" by Halsey

The Fool is the ultimate card of Journey: of finding yourself at the end of the driveway and hitting the gas petal, for that moment you pull out onto the highway ramp. There's no time like the present to begin. Like the beginning of all road trips, it is a mix of joy and exasperation. Someone forgot to pack the snacks, set their alarm too late, took godforsaken forever in the shower. All the same, those first few miles on the road are hope and excitement. You're still not all the way sure what you're getting into, so roll down the top and enjoy the warm dregs of the summer breeze. Savor this beginning, because it'll be over all too soon.

1. THE MAGICIAN: "The River the Woods" by Astronautalis

On every journey we take, there's always a voice of wisdom, whether it be a mentor or the God-like voice of the GPS. If the Fool is the start of the journey, the Magician can be the map of how to get to where you're going.

2. THE HIGH PRIESTESS: "Oblivion" by Grimes

While it's always useful to listen to the voices of those who took this path before you, there comes a time where you must let go of all the advice, take a deep breath, and trust you know how to do this. The High Priestess is all about letting go of what the rest of the world has to say and letting your wisdom guide your experience. It's no small thing, learning to trust your inner voice. Even if your gut feeling about the perfect shortcut doesn't work out, pulling over to check out the view of the sun over the treetops for a fabulous photo op is worth the detour. Trust that there will be time. Trust in your own capacities.

3. THE EMPRESS: "Run the World (Girls)" by Beyoncé

Every road trip needs a power anthem. Part of the journey, after all, is how you grow by living through the experience.

4. THE EMPEROR: "High Hopes" by Panic! at the Disco

The Emperor marks the moment you first begin to hit your stride on the road. The miles are flying by. You’ve got all the snacks you could possibly want. You’re feeling cool and cocky, everything under your control. It's all going exactly the way you planned it. You are coming into your own, and the road beneath your wheels clicks into place like a switch.

5. THE HIEROPHANT: "Oxford Comma" by Vampire Weekend

When you are following your route to the letter, when you’re staying the course, you’re channeling the Hierophant. This card is all about order and convention. When you feel like you’ve hit your stride, sometimes it's easy to get into a routine. It’s just the way the steering wheel feels under your palms, the well-practiced changing of the lanes, the engine humming as highway markers tick by.

6. THE LOVERS: "Loser" by Julian Moon

There are so many kinds of love: that heart-pounding first love, yes, that deep family love, yes, but also the little loves we build ourselves. The love of the road, the love of the song, the love of the company of the car––the Lovers card is about the vulnerability of opening up and letting others in. It’s the courage of letting go of the routines you’ve built and trusting that the world will take you where you’re supposed to be going.

7. THE CHARIOT: "Momentum" by The Hush Sound

The Chariot is a time for action, for forward propulsion. You're first starting to feel the road begin to drag by, and all you need is a little bit of momentum. This is a good time to find what you need to keep you going. (It may also be a good time to take a caffeine break.)

8. STRENGTH: "Pycaлoчkѝ (Rusalochky)" by DakhaBrakha

Like the Chariot, Strength is about action, determination, and staying the course. But where the Chariot is about finding that momentum in the world around you, Strength is all about finding it within yourself. And what better way to get hyped and buckle down than a Ukrainian folk song?

9. THE HERMIT: "Alone / With You" by Daughter

No matter how good of a time you’re having, and how much you love your friends and family, sometimes you need a break. The Hermit represents the desire to turn inward, to enjoy your own company, to recharge. It’s okay to take a few moments to yourself.

10. WHEEL OF FORTUNE: "This Too Shall Pass" by Danny Schmidt

The Wheel of Fortune is the queen of dishing it out. There are highs and lows in any journey - but know that as the spool of the road unravels, the bad will always pass. This too shall pass.

11. JUSTICE: "Dog Days are Over" by Florence + the Machine

The Justice card points to a time to take a critical action, and owning up to the fact that every decision has its consequences. If you’re falling asleep at the wheel, what will it really hurt if you pull over and sleep for the night? Know your limits; don’t be afraid to speak them.

12. THE HANGED MAN: "The Cave" by Mumford and Sons

The unexpected happens. A route is closed off. A rainstorm cracks the sky over Peoria. There’s an accident halfway up the road. Sometimes, as much as you want to follow through with your carefully-laid plan, you have to pause to reevaluate where you are going.

13. DEATH: "The Graveyard Near the House" by the Airborne Toxic Event

The inevitable halfway point in any road trip: the point where you get to where you were going, and then you must turn around and go back home. The Death card in Tarot is about the turning around, the going back home, the rebirth of the road trip.

14. TEMPERANCE: "In the Clouds" by Astron

There comes a peace where the road stretches out front of you like a long thread unraveling. Everyone around you is full with silence. This is the time to take it all in, to let the highway slip down the front of your car. To breathe easy. Be patient with yourself.

15. THE DEVIL: "Demons" by the National

The Devil is about feeling like you have no options. Your GPS guides you through a route you really don’t feel quite comfortable with, but there isn’t another option. It’s those obsessions with feeling like you have to travel this path, everything signalling how you don’t really have another choice. While it may feel bleak now, just remember that you always have the choice, even if it doesn’t feel like it. You are stronger than you know.

16. THE TOWER: "Agony in Her Body" by Sage Francis

In any trip, there are always things you can’t account or plan for. There’s construction in the road, and traffic jams so tightly it may as well be a dam. You run a flat, and you watch that ETA crawl later and later. Someone has a bad egg sandwich at a roadside diner and you take a detour to the nearest rest stop. Someone brings up a sensitive topic and things get heated, because you've been in the car with the same people for hours and hours and tensions are running high anyway. The Tower comes up when the things that might go wrong do. But even when the Tower crumbles, ferns will grow again amongst the rubble.

17. THE STAR: "Shatter in the Night" by Vesperteen

When the struggle is said and done, the Star is gets you back into the swing of things. It’s fixing that blown tire. It’s settling the argument and getting back into the stride of the road. When things have already shattered, the only thing you can do is make the most of the moment you begin to heal again.

18. THE MOON: "Lil' Red Riding Hood" by Amanda Seyfried

The Moon card is the mirage of the journey, the way that your mind begins to relax as you pull up into familiar territory. Home always seems closer when you’ve been away, because you’re seeing the familiar as new once again. You’re close to finishing the journey, but hold out just a little while longer. You’re in proximity of warmth and light.

19. THE SUN: "C'Mon" by Ke$ha

The Sun is a card all about that warmth and light. It's that last burst of energy to make the final stretch - the Sun is the personification of the perfect summer anthem. It's the song you play with the volume all the way up, windows down, sun roof open, everyone in the car screaming at the top of their lungs: I don't wanna think about what's gonna be after this. I wanna just live right now.

20. JUDGEMENT: "Come As You Are" by Yuna

By the end of a road trip, we all feel a little bedraggled. We've got car hair from the wind. There's Dorito dust on our shirts. We've drank so much Monster that our teeth feel like mold cultures. But still there's an unwillingness to get out of the car, for the journey to be over - because that means the journey is over, all too soon. Because the destination is where you are going, but the journey is almost as important as getting there. Pull into the driveway, songbirds. It's time to start a new chapter.

21. THE UNIVERSE: "Drunk Kids" by Tallhart

Because, as the Universe teaches us, there's always a new chapter. One door opens, another closes, and so forth. Once you get to the destination, another kind of journey is always waiting for you on the other side of the garage door.


And this wouldn't be a Tarot-themed road trip if there wasn't a spread, would it?

Put this playlist on shuffle. The first song that comes on is the journey you are on. The second song represents the obstacles you will face in that journey. The third song is your advice card on how to overcome those obstacles.

Safe travels!