Stage Eight

The Hermit
Stage Nine

The Wheel
Stage Ten

Stage Eleven

The Hanged Man
Stage Twelve

Stage Thirteen

Stage Fourteen
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To the Fool's dismay, the little boat was soon swept out to sea, leaving far behind the Hermit's cliff top cave and, somewhere, his chariot and horses. To add to his discomfort there seemed nothing he could do to steer the boat, for it was buffeted by such mountainous waves he could barely bring himself to open his eyes, but concentrated instead on holding on to the sides of the pitching, tossing vessel.

The ordeal seemed to continue for several hours, yet in truth he lost consciousness after only a few minutes and remained senseless throughout the night, carried steadily by the combined force of wind and tide until, as dawn broke, the storm abated and the small boat gently came to rest against a sandy island shore.

He awoke to the sight of a long golden beach, shaded by palm trees. The crystal-clear ocean sparkled merrily, but the Fool took little pleasure from the view. His head ached, there was no Tower in sight and the shone sun far too brightly. He closed his eyes and attempted to quell the rising resentment he felt at the injustice of his situation. He was hungry and thirsty, yet there was no sign of any fresh water, and he could reach none of the coconuts or bananas that dangled temptingly from the tops of the tall palms.

There seemed no sign of intelligent life and he was at a loss to know what to do next. Across the sea he could make out the distant shape of the mountainous mainland he had left behind, but the thought of attempting the trip back empty-handed made him feel irritable and queasy.

All at once, the silence was broken by a rising siren of many voices. The babble of chatter grew louder and louder, higher and higher, until there appeared across the trees and over the sand a swinging, leaping, band of monkeys. They pelted one another with coconuts, scaled the palms for more, shook the trees and gleefully created an atmosphere of utter mayhem.

At first they were far too busy collecting and eating fruit to notice their visitor, but eventually one or two of the younger ones spied him, and after making a cautious sniffing examination rushed back to the safety of the crowd, from where they babbled and chattered at him.

To escape from this unwelcome attention, the Fool made his way from the beach to the shelter of the woodlands inshore. The pleasant forest soon became more like a jungle, filled with strange and threatening cries, yielding nothing to eat or drink, and hot as hell. His injured foot had become painfully sore and, inevitably, soon he was hopelessly lost.

Far behind he could hear the chattering of the monkeys as they followed him curiously into the jungle undergrowth. Infuriated, he moved faster in order to lose them, but the foliage was so tangled that - crash - he plummeted head over heals down a hidden bank. As if a curtain had been lifted, the darkness gave way to brilliant sunshine as he tumbled between two trees towards a small pool with moss and grass all around. On a rock surrounded by water was a shrine and beside it sat a woman.

At this sight the monkeys became more excited than ever, swinging through the trees so they could watch the proceedings from the safety of the other side of the pool.

The Fool felt like a sacrificial lamb arrived at the altar. He struggled to his feet and started to half-run, half-limp away, before his injured leg gave way beneath him and, CRASH! - he collapsed in a miserable heap upon the grass.

"Good afternoon," said a calm, clear voice.
"I am Justice who sees all things. Although you rarely see me, I am with you always."

"Then you must have observed my truly awful journey," sobbed the Fool. "I am surely the most unfortunate of creatures. Why is the world so against me?"

"I cannot answer your question," replied the Vision, "for I am here to judge neither yourself, nor anyone else. It is said that 'God writes straight with curved lines,' and that 'to know all is to forgive all', but I do not concern myself with that. It is my job to administer the Laws of Life."

"Anyone can see that life is treating me unfairly," rejoined the Fool. "Since leaving my meadow to make my fortune I have met nothing but resistance and hardship."

"The words you utter are not true," replied the Vision. "Have you not received many kindnesses from the strangers you have met along your way?"

"That may be so", replied the Fool, "yet all this help has led me to a sorry state. I have lost the Emperor's chariot and horses, my head aches, I cannot walk, I am lost in a jungle with nothing to eat or drink, and the whereabouts of the Tower is a complete mystery to me. Things do not look promising. Perhaps you would be kind enough to indicate what I can look forward to next?"

"You ask me to pronounce upon your Fate? At this moment, on this planet, I am running a very important Law. It may not apply elsewhere and forever, but here it is paramount. I call it...the Law of the Jungle!"
The figure seemed to shimmer, ominously.

"I might have known it, " sighed the Fool. "Tell me more."

"In these scales," replied the Vision, lifting them high as she spoke, "I weigh information about the forces, known and unknown, that surround each person. The difference between success or failure lies in the balance. It sometimes takes only a very small thing to tip that balance.

With these same scales, I compare each moment against the record of history. If one scene seems similar to another, the outcome will tend to be similar also - 'To he that has, shall more be given.' In this way, events and processes can build up momentum."

"That seems unfair," protested the Fool.

"It is fair because the same Law is administered to all," came the stern response. Then, seeing how woebegone the Fool looked, the lady spoke again in a softer tone.

"It is always possible to move ahead if you fix your attention on solutions rather than problems. Just look carefully and in detail at what works in your life, and in the world around you. If it works, do more of the same. If it doesn't work, do something different."
"It sounds simple," remarked the Fool, "But..."

"Precisely," replied the Vision.
With that she was gone.
And, like a mirage, so was the water!

Alone once more and thirstier than ever, the Fool pondered his next step. If only he could find his way out of the jungle he might find his boat. But there was nothing here to show him the way. Nothing but trees and monkeys.

He picked up the biggest stick he could find and hurled it with all his strength at the infuriating animals.
He felt a sudden, sharp pain as a coconut cracked against his head. The playful monkeys had retaliated.
Too dispirited to run, he idly examined the missile, wishing he had a knife to cut it open and drink its sweet milk.
As a second coconut hit him, so did a brainwave. The monkeys knew how to get out of the jungle! If he could only walk, he could follow them back to the shore.
Why did he think he couldn't walk? One of his legs at least was in good shape, and with the help of a stick he could be mobile again. A plentiful supply of sticks lay all around, so pausing only to select one of just the right size and shape he rose carefully, and hobbled purposefully towards his tormentors.

Startled by this development, the monkeys turned tail and fled back to the colony, so that after pursuing them hotly for half an hour the Fool's effort and enterprise was rewarded by the sound of the sea breaking on the nearby shore.

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Copyright © 2000 by Jenny and Chris Gilders,
Tarot cards by Rider-Waite, U.S.Games, Inc.