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JenniferP's avatar

Is a court Jester associated with the occult?

Asked by JenniferP (2103 points ) November 10th, 2012

I heard it was and researched it and all I found was that there is a court jester in tarot cards. But there is a joker in a regular card deck too. Someone on another site criticized someone for having one as an avatar. I don’t think it is a big deal because in and of itself it isn’t occultic. Or is it? Does anyone have any knowledge of this?

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8 Answers

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Oh what an excellent question. I didn’t know the jester was connected to the occult. I’ll do some digging.It’s okay with me if anyone has one as an avatar

ucme's avatar

All I know is the one in The Wicker Man used for a pagan sacrifice. I seem to remember them saying that the jester or fool was held in high regard in pagan society, although I may have just made that up.

wundayatta's avatar

The man in motley was often deformed in some way. Perhaps he was dwarf. Maybe he had a cleft lip. In some way, he was an object of scorn and foolery and if he was also clever, he might be kept around court to be laughed at.

I know that children that are deformed have, in the past, been seen as the devil’s spawn. They look ugly, therefore they must be evil. It is an instinctual connection that can only be overcome through education.

I would not at all be surprised that a court jester would be associated with the occult. They look like they know things they can’t know. And if they look stupid but turn out to be smart, surely that is a sign of a deal with the devil.

Of course, the occult is not something to be afraid of. There is no devil. There is no black magic. So symbols of the occult have no power and can cause no harm to anyone who does not believe in them.

downtide's avatar

Playing cards derived from medieval Tarot cards to begin with, and yes, the joker is the equivalent of the Fool. But a court jester itself is not occult in any way. The purpose of the court jester was twofold; partly entertainment, and partly to be the “devil’s advocate” to the king. Far from being fools, they were intelligent and astute, and they were the only people in court permitted to tell the king when HE was being a fool.

filmfann's avatar

@downtide is correct. The court jester was the equivalent of a television, to give the King an entertaining distraction, but also role played and presented the King with an alternate point of view.

Haleth's avatar

@wundayatta If I remember right, people with all kinds of common traits were associated with the devil back in the day. Redheads and left-handed people are two examples that I can think of right away.

@JenniferP You might also be interested in the trickster archetype. It’s a type of character that appears across plenty of different cultures, often an amoral god or supernatural being that can change its appearance and gender.

The trickster is an example of a jungian archetype, a broader category of character types that appear again and again in our storytelling. Maybe they’re based on patterns from real life, or this type of storytelling just comforts us.

A court jester is just one example of the trickster archetype. Others are Zeus disguising himself as a raincloud to seduce a mortal woman, or the character Eames from Inception, a conman who switches genders during the movie.

The tarot cards seem to be based on archetypes, and the jester/ the fool is one of them. IIRC the tarot deck started as a card game in Italy and didn’t pick up supernatural connotations until later.

Jack79's avatar

It obviously depends on the situation. What century, what country, which palace are you referring to? It’s like asking “are all soldiers good spearmen”? Most modern soldiers have never even seen a spear, and even 3000 years ago there were armies that didn’t use them.

So a jester might in some situations also serve as a shaman, wizard, medicineman and general advisor to the King. Or he might be nothing more than an entertainer. I think the tarot cards one refer to a jester that is something like a “magician” (in the modern sense of the word though, not the original one), in other words an entertainer-illusionist. He does not really cast arcane spells or have any sort of mystical knowledge, and he is certainly not a sage, but he can do simple tricks for fun (much like modern-day magicians might do card tricks).

I think that in those circumstances it would be understood that the trick is not “real” magic, therefore generally harmless.

JenniferP's avatar

I thought the person that told the other that they shouldn’t have it as an avatar was overreacting. Even if in some cases it has some association with magic it certainly doesn’t always.

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