When We Do Not Leap Alone

And so she marries. (She takes the job. She decides to move to a new city. She divorces… At some point, we leap.)

You’ve done this. You’ve hesitated, deliberated, perseverated. You’ve thought until you can’t think anymore. And then, said “Yes.“ (There are ways to know our own true yes. Maybe you know that already. And maybe, it’s not so easy in the moment, or when you are young, or when your mother is whispering in your ear, “He’s a catch. This is success. Don’t be a fool.“

So, we become The Fool. Of course: The Fool is the learner, the archetype who ventures into the unknown. She is the hero, the child, the one who is willing to leap. (Images of this archetype are everywhere, from Hollywood’s modern myth-making to ancient tools like the Tarot. And in the tarot, The Fool is card 0, the one who begins the journey of the Soul.)

We become The Fool in order to bear the leap: into a new city, a new job, a new, bigger version of ourselves. But perhaps we don’t leap alone. In most pictures of The Fool, she is accompanied by an animal, – a little dog cavorts at her feet, a cat sits on her shoulder.

Or, in my case, an owl perches in the bole of a tree.

Or, in yours, a fox looks out from her den. A coyote laughs. An eagle folds her wings, preparing to dive, a crow chases, a boar bares a tusk… The Fool in us says “Yes,” (As you have. As you may again, perhaps soon.) And her wild self is awakened by the leap. Even the leap that, in the story of Bluebeard, looks like marrying a murderer.

But that knowing comes later. This is how the journey works: later the wisdom, later the danger that transforms. 

For now, our heroine sees only what is before her. For now, she packs her things. It is the night before the marriage and she is alone in her room. Outside the windows, the trees sway in a high wind, occasionally reaching out to brush their long fingers against the glass. The indigo sky glitters with stars.  There is a trunk open on her bed, she is folding clothes, filling the trunk with the parts of her past that she reckons necessary: the fine dresses and the satin slippers, yes, but also… her hand pauses on the rough brown leggings she wears into the woods. Her eye turns to the woolen cloak hanging from an iron hook on the wall, the one with the hood that hides her when she walks at night. The candle flickers and there is a soft knock on the door.

“Come in,“ she says.

It is her sister, Renée. And behind her in the hall, Esmerelda. 

“Put on your cloak sister,” Renee says. “Before you go, we have something to give you.”

(We leap, but not alone, and not without the advice of our sisters.)

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