From Juggler to Juggling

This Fools’ Journey first tabloid is called The Juggling, and I thought it appropriate to delve into the reason for that, before expanding on its cosmology.

Why a Juggler?

It’s no secret that much of the initial symbology within the work derives from the tarot, and most tarot decks derived from the Waite-Rider tradition have The Magician as the first of the numbered major arcanum. There are alternatives to this though, such as The Magus, and a primary influence for the gateway here came from the imagery of what was then known as The Tarot of Frown Strong published by Cobwebs Press for The Emin. Abu had been in The Emin previous to our friendship, and this, his tarot of choice, has The Juggler as the first card.

Needless to say, not being even a novitiate in the tarot back in 1987, the first version of the Juggler in The Fool’s Taro was little more than a blatant facsimile of The Frown Strong card.

The Juggler from The Tarot of Frown Strong (now The Tarot of Virsel). Used with owner's permission.


The symbols being juggled were replaced with the white rabbits of the poem, the hat had a ‘D‘ on it to represent the dunce’s cap, and the face was shaped like the motif (motive) shield, but ostensibly the card was the same. Abu was the client, and he seemed happy enough with it, but I never really was. I felt that if it wasn’t going to be sufficiently new, or at least a significantly different take on the intrinsic meme, was there really any point? Anyway, I left the card there while I journeyed on to number two, but I would revisit often in the following decades.

Changes I

The Pierrot from The Fools Journey.
Copyright Mike Saville.

The first real change came when some of the other Fools were introduced, and I wondered whether The Jester was the right archetype for the job. It was before The Scarecrow and The Harlequin were accompanying the Journey, and I knew The Auguste was absolutely the wrong one, so I tried it with The Pierrot.

The Motif shield was retained with facepaint, and the rabbits now describe the infinity symbol.

When the Scarecrow and The Harlequin became regular travellers in the caravan, it stood to reason it needed to be one of those two on the first tabloid. The Pierrot endured for around a decade, but was swapped out, in around 2007.

Some aspects of the previous pose remain here, just about, but The Juggling would still have more changes to come.

The Scarecrow from The Fools' Journey. Copyright Mike Saville.

Why The Juggling?

The name change, despite coming nearly twenty years after the first sketch, was inspired by my earlier love of Chinese and Japanese philosophy. OK, If I’m honest, it was Bruce Lee I heard it from, but that still counts, right? In Enter the Dragon, Lee says “…it is like a finger pointing a way to the moon. Don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory!”. Of course, I could have said it comes from the Buddhist Shurangama Sutra, but I really didn’t know where Lee had borrowed it from until much later. Anyway, as I wanted to draw attention to the point that this tabloid has by default two parts to its whole, the state and the event, the Juggler became The Juggling.

NB: The Juggler is not directly interchangeable with Magician.