Welcome back to The Fool’s Journey, blissful reader! When last we left The Fool He was practically floating away from His exchange with Temperance. He has now graduated to the third and final stage in His journey. He has learned the lessons of survival, and of higher order thinking and being [as represented by the establishing of a personal moral code by which to live]. Now, He embarks on the cosmic, or spiritual lessons. (Notice the beautiful symmetry of The Fool’s Journey as it aligns with physical lessons - body, mental lessons - mind, and spiritual lessons - spirit.)
Feeling inspired, The Fool continues on His path, which is leading Him to the base of a large mountain. He’s so energized by His experience with Temperance, that He charges forth toward the mountain eager and ready to scale its heights.
Several hours into His climb, The Fool finds Himself in the shadow of a looming gothic castle. It is built into the mountain and is shrouded in the darkness of the cliffs surrounding it. He sees lights flickering in the many windows, and hears the subtle beat of music vibrating beneath His feet growing stronger the closer He gets.
Interest piqued, The Fool decides to investigate this castle more closely.
Thwack! Thwack! Thwack! Gripping the large iron knocker - forged into the shape of a goat’s head - The Fool knocks on the heavy wooden door. He is soon greeted by a creature whose appearance is both a glorious and grotesque thing to behold. The Fool finds Himself enthralled - completely captivated, by His host.
Somehow He manages to squeak out an introduction, to which His host replies, “Greetings and Salutations to you! I am The Devil. I am the host of this castle and of all the revelry that happens within its chambers. Please, do come in!”
Feeling a curious mix of titillation and trepidation, The Fool enters.
The Devil takes His guest on a tour through the castle room by room. Each chamber has a distinct flavor of debauchery going on within it. There are moans of ecstasy mixed with pain and suffering echoing throughout the whole of the place. The Fool finds Himself scared, yet strangely excited, too.
He works up the courage to ask The Devil what’s really going on here. He explains that He means no disrespect, but the other guests seem to be caught up in some kind of trance dance expressing both rapture and repulsion. “Why do you continue to hold them captive to such temptations when they are so obviously in pain?”
To this The Devil responds that each and every guest in His castle entered of their own volition. Each and every guest elects to remain in their current circumstances by their own free will.
"I am the King of Shadow," He says. "Shadow is a part of us all. Shadow is neither good nor evil. We can either choose to bring light to our Shadows or to indulge them in the darkness. There is pleasure and pain to be had from exploring the addictions, distractions, and otherwise repressed parts of who we are. For every moment of pleasure spent in the Shadows, we must endure two moments of pain. It is up to each of us to decide what price we are willing to pay to indulge our Shadows.
I am merely the host here. I neither captivate nor evict my guests. The question is, what will YOU choose to do while you’re here?”
The Fool considers this thoughtfully for a few moments. He decides to take the risk and explore his own shadows. “Just one room,” he says.
The Devil leads The Fool to His room of choice, and leaves Him to it.
Immediately, The Fool is immersed in a torrential assault of the senses. He experiences the highest highs - such pleasures as He’s never known. He explores all of His carnal delights and sinks so fully into the experience that He almost forgets where He is, who He is.
Then, as always happens when we succumb to the Shadow, the pain comes. Such intense agony wells up deep within His Soul. It's a struggle, but He remembers who He is, where He is. He remembers that He has a choice of whether to stay and endure this agonizing pain in order to experience the fleeting reward of the euphoric highs, or to extract Himself from the situation altogether eschewing both the intense pleasure and the intense pain.
After what feels like a lifetime experienced within a mere moment, our hero finally regains His fortitude, and exits the room. The Devil is waiting to greet Him just outside the door.
“Now you can understand the power of the darkness, of Shadow. You have tasted its delights as well as its destruction, and you have managed to release yourself from its chains. What have you learned from your experience?” asked The Devil.
“I understand the power I have to stay small in the throes of earthly pleasures, or to choose to rise above the mundane in order to expand my consciousness and my Soul. I’ve also learned why so many people choose to stay in the small place … the pain may be unbearable, but the pleasure is so rapturous that it allows a temporary forgetting of the pain. Lastly, I’ve learned that each Shadow has a personal lesson to teach me, and it’s up to me to learn that lesson or not.”
“Very good,” said The Devil. “It’s been a pleasure hosting you. I’ll see you out.”
Thus with a grateful farewell, The Fool re-enters the world of Light. He gives His eyes a moment to adjust, and digests this very visceral lesson He’s just learned, before taking to His road once again.
This week was a pretty exciting one for our hero! Tune in next week to see what new adventure transpires as He continues to climb this mountain toward His Journey’s peak.