|Fool as Luther.|
Fortune telling is a very bad idea.
The "wicked pack of cards" remains compelling, however, because many of the cards are symbolic expressions of psychological features. The Moon, for example, is beloved in poetry because it is such a perfect illustration of the subconscious. T.S. Eliot alludes to Tarot in The Wasteland, but takes much artistic license, inventing cards out of whole cloth.
Around the turn of the 20th century, some Victorian English occultists tackled the subject with the obsessiveness, creativity and wackiness characteristic of their time and place. Although they were not the first to do so (France has long been ground zero for Tarot) they attempted to make the symbolism obvious. The coincidence that Tarot has the same number of cards as the letters of the Hebrew alphabet (which doubles as numbers) was too good to pass up. Eventually, Tarot was seen as a kind of shorthand encyclopedia of the occult. Never mind that occultists could never entirely settle on the same attributions.
Fortune telling is the sin of superstition. How ironic that religious imagery would be expropriated in this manner.
Perhaps The Fool has seen more variations than any other card. It is a unique card, bearing the integer zero. Originally, The Fool was a beggar being chased off by a dog. Sometimes it is a wolf, and sometimes whatever it is, is biting him. Artist Pamela Coleman Smith executed Victorian occultist Arthur E. Waite's vision that fixed the images in both popular and esoteric cultures. In their The Fool, he is gayly stepping off the edge of a cliff while a little white dog frolics at his heels.
Much more benign than an attacking wolf, although perhaps a wolf attack would alert him to the danger of ignoring the real world!
The Tarot is nothing, if not ironic.
The most interesting version of The Fool the Bear has found is the one pictured. The Fool is none other than Martin Luther. The Bear thinks this is hilarious, and if The Devil's Picture Book can have a legitimate use, this is it. The wolf is apparently drawing up short of the edge. Luther is reading his truncated version of the Bible. Perhaps the rest of it is in his bindle. The Bear isn't sure about the watch, unless it is a "cheap and unreliable watch." In any event, he has his watch, out, but is not looking at it.
The Bear sees a man who is no longer oriented in space and time. A proud man who thinks the law of gravity does not apply to him. A man whose eyes are fixed on the best of books, as John Bunyan's pilgrim would say, but oblivious to the rest of the story.