Drawn by Court de Gebelin in attempt to show that the Tarot was Egyptian in origin, these cards represent the height of circular logic. They are far more eighteenth-century than they are Egyptian, and in any case they are basically a reproduction of the far older Marseilles pattern tarot deck, with some ideological changes to help him prove his own point.
Court de Gebelin. France, 1781.
The Fool, Mate, or Unwise Man. Court de Gebelin places it at the head of the whole series as the zero or negative which is presupposed by numeration, and as this is a simpler so also it is a better arrangement. It has been abandoned because in later times the cards have been attributed to the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, and there has been apparently some difficulty about allocating the zero symbol satisfactorily in a sequence of letters all of which signify numbers. In the present reference of the card to the letter Shin, which corresponds to 200, the difficulty or the unreason remains. The truth is that the real arrangement of the cards has never transpired. The Fool carries a wallet; he is looking over his shoulder and does not know that he is on the brink of a precipice; but a dog or other animal--some call it a tiger--is attacking him from behind, and he is hurried to his destruction unawares. Etteilla has given a justifiable variation of this card--as generally understood--in the form of a court jester, with cap, bells and motley garb. The other descriptions say that the wallet contains the bearer's follies and vices, which seems bourgeois and arbitrary.
Folly, Expiation, Wavering
Hesitation, Instability, Trouble arising herefrom.
Inconsiderate Actions. Madness.