Deck Name: Ask the Wise Fool
Author: Roger von Oech
Publisher & Year: U.S. Games, Inc. March 2019
Availability: You can find it in our Amazon store
Many people know that I adore anything related to The Fool, in any of its varied guises. The sense of adventure, the mystery, the humor; all of it makes me feel warm and tingly inside. So, when asked who of the team wanted to get to know Roger von Oech’s Ask the Wise Fool from U.S. Games, I about fell out of my seat waving my hand in the air. I mean, Wise Fool? With my obsession? Yes, please!
Be careful what you ask for…
When I got home that day after receiving my copy, I scurried into my home office with my prize in hand, ready to dig in. Off went the plastic wrap, open went the flip tab, off went the second layer of plastic, and my heart fell. This deck had nothing to do with The Fool card, at least not how I expected it to! I slowly tucked the deck back in the box and placed it on the top of my computer, promising to get back to it after my daily errands were ran and chores done. For days the deck sat there, the image of the Wise Fool with his chin is his hand on the cover of the box looking at me patiently whenever I would be in my office. I’d take the cards out, give them a shuffle, look at the artwork, which is nothing like I would have normally chosen, and tuck them back in the box. Done in a pen and ink style reminiscent of MADD cartoons and old Victorian woodprints with paragraphs underneath and a question at the bottom, this deck isn’t something I would normally choose for myself.
Finally, the day came where I could put it off no longer. I had to get this review done, no matter the imagined cost. Keeping in mind that every deck is someone’s art, and therefore valid, I decided to give this deck the benefit of the doubt. I sat down, took a deep breath, took the cards out, gave them a few shuffles, and asked them to introduce themselves to me.
Again, be careful what you ask for!
The first card to be laid out was Surprise! I chuckled to myself, thinking on how surprised I was at this deck already. The next card; Expect a Surprise. Again I chuckled, this time louder, thinking on what my expectations were of this deck before I even had it in my hand. The third card was Ask the Wise Fool. “Ok,” I thought, “now you’re just getting cheeky.” I started to read the paragraph under the image and again about fell out of my seat! There was a brief history lesson on the role of the Wise Fool in the courts of famous kings and queens! (Most people who know me know I also adore history.)
The next card was Pivot, which spoke about being flexible enough to go a different way than the group. I thought of my go to decks, the ones I read for myself and others almost daily. This card helped me to realize that I do have a particular taste in cards, and sometimes it’s helpful to break away from that comfort zone to help gain true clarity and real insight. Next in the lineup was Go After a Sacred Cow. Now how in the name of all things glittering am I supposed to gain any insight from chasing after a cow? Well, and I quote, “The Wise Fool says nothing clouds your mind like dogma-especially from an exalted authority.” I thought of all my years as a reader, starting with the Rider Waite-Smith system and later the Marseille style; all those lessons I gleaned and then put on a pedestal, not once questioning their meanings. Dogmatic, much?
Sixth in line was Flex Your Risk Muscle. Its question is, “What alternate points of view can you advocate?” “Well played,” I thought, “well played.” Following this was Imagine the Unintended. This image had to be one of my favorites, a large hand coming out of a cloud getting ready to flick an unsuspecting person standing below it. I still feel that on a spiritual level sometimes. As Murphy is often quoted, “Anything that can go wrong, will.” Don’t Be Fooled was the next card, with an image of a wolf dressed in a night cap and nightgown asking if someone or something had disguised their real intentions from me. I couldn’t help but giggle at this, thinking of the image on the box staring at me, waiting for me to take the cards out and begin the conversation.
The final card was Kiss Off a Beloved Idea. I must say I laughed, hard, as I read through the paragraph below the image of a smiling heart. How could I not? The past week was me dragging my feet to do this review, stuck in sour mode because the deck wasn’t what I had wanted it to be. I had the “beloved idea” that this deck was going to be beautiful artwork in festive colors with various images of The Fool doing mystical, adventurous things, and here I was getting called out by a deck with simple images and thought-provoking questions!
Needless to say, this deck has given me a healthy dose of my own medicine; never judge a book by its cover. From the well thought out messages to the simplicity of the imagery that helps you really stop and think; you can find yourself invited to sit with it again and again. The cardstock is smooth and flexible, making it easy and comfortable to shuffle, though the oversized cards can be a bit cumbersome for smaller hands. The included 96-page guidebook continues the story on each card and asks you further questions to help you dive deeper in your search for clarity and understanding. Personally, I don’t find myself reaching for this deck to read in a traditional multi card spread, but it has definitely become a daily ritual of mine to pull a card in the morning for a daily meditation aide.
Thank you, Roger von Oech, for introducing me to the Wise Fool and helping me learn that even in the realm of tarot it’s ok to loosen up and change perspectives.