Tarot numbers: Zero = Hero

Recently I shared a post in my Fool’s Journey column on Autostraddle which offered a short guide to the numbers of the minor arcana.

Check it out! It goes through Ace/one through to ten with ideas about the significance of each, and how common themes for each number work across the four suits.

It got me thinking. I really don’t write a lot about numbers in tarot. Because I really don’t think much about numbers in tarot. How ridiculous is that? How have I got this far without paying attention to such a crucial part of tarot’s structure? Etc etc. Well, that’s gonna change. Here marks the beginning of an exploratory journey through the numbers in tarot.

Photo 20-07-2015 12 09 51

From the Mary-el Tarot by Marie White

Just to be clear – this is not numerology. Numerology is its own thing which goes far deeper into the significance of numbers than I’m going to. It’s about energy, resonance and much more. I’m not a numerologist – though I will quote numerologists in this series!

If you are interested in numerology, check out Richard Abbot’s book, The Secret Language of Numbers.

Okay! Let’s start! With absolute nothingness! (Or is it?)

Tarot numbers: Zero = hero

The number 0 is absolutely crucial in tarot, as it is the very first card in the deck. Not one, where the magic begins, but zero, where the space is made for the magic to happen.

Photo 20-07-2015 12 05 28

From The Fountain Tarot

The Fool is zero. Best explained in metaphors, they are a blank canvas, an unwritten book. A new start. A first step. Sticking out your thumb and just seeing what the heck happens. The Fool is nothing, with the potential to be everything. So when you get card zero in your readings, it’s time to wipe the slate clean. Cast off the inhibitions we learn as we move through life. Be a fool – as in, be naive. Be innocent. Pretend you never had your confidence knocked or got dumped or your first business never failed or whatever.

That stuff doesn’t matter. This is all about here, now, and what happens next.


From The Collective Tarot

But wait? What’s that they’re carrying? A wee knapsack! What’s in it? Questions. Experiences. So this isn’t absolute nothingness. The Fool is not a completely blank slate. There’s a little baggage here, just as we all have a little baggage.

The bag behind him carries his experiences. He does not abandon them, he is not mindless, they simply do not control him in the way that our memories and traumas so often control our lives. … The bag bears the head of an eagle, symbol of the soaring spirit. His high instinct fills and transforms all experience.

Rachel Pollack, Seventy Eight Degrees of Wisdom

Life is a series of cycles. Tarot is an expression of those cycles. Each suit is a cycle, and the major arcana is a huge cycle. As card zero, The Fool is a chance to go back and start again. To keep only what is most important, only the absolute gems, from previous cycles, and begin again with a fresh new approach.

Photo 20-07-2015 12 06 45

From the Shadowscapes Tarot, by Stephanie Piu-Mun Law


Risk and trust

Because this is zero, there is nothing to know. Nothing is given, guaranteed, proven or explained. When you take a paintbrush to a blank canvas, no matter how much you’ve practiced painting in the past, you are taking a risk. You don’t know exactly how it’s going to turn out. But you have to do it, or there will never be any painting at all.

When you’re working with the nothingness of zero, therefore, you have to trust. Trust in yourself, trust in the universe, trust that if your intentions are good, that everything will be okay. It’s naive. but that’s the point. Strip away all the junk that we collect over years, all the fears and worries and reasonable reasons why stuff won’t work out, why it’s better not to try.

Be the hero of your own story.

Take a risk, and …. begin.

Photo 20-07-2015 12 08 54

From Thea’s Tarot by Ruth West

Like this post? Please share it!


  1. The Fool has always been a favorite card of mine. Mainly because when most people hear “fool” they think foolish or silly. But I have always found it to be a more innocent and carefree card. And I think that latter bit falls into your take on it as well, as being a blank slate and ready for magic to happen. 🙂

    Love this, Beth!

    • Beth says:

      Yeah! For me it ties into this idea that you ‘make your own luck’ – if you approach life with an openness to exciting things that might happen (even though you don’t have a clue what they may be) then exciting things will happen. I believe, anyway!

  2. Maria Strom says:

    The trusting part really resonated with me. Not knowing what’s ahead, but feeling compelled to take that first step.

    • Beth says:

      Yes – the whole idea with The Fool is that not-knowing, but doing it anyway – something that people may call ‘foolish’ but is also just a joyous way to live.

Comments are closed.