April Fools Day
by Raven ©1997
April Fools Day, or All Fools Day, as it has been called, signaled the end of the Easter celebrations in somewhat the same way New Years now celebrates the end of Christmas festivities. Traditionally it was not a day of practical jokes and cruel pranks, but a day when the sacred fool made an appearance to teach us more about ourselves and to help us discover the healing power of fun and laughter. By acting in casual disregard for dignity, tradition, and prevailing social mores, the fool teaches us how arbitrary and unnecessary some of our rules and customs are.
The fool is a revolutionary. He opens us up to our creative side by showing us the beauty of "coloring outside the lines". Like the Shaman, the fool lives outside the bounds of society while, at times, functioning within it. Many societies honored the fool for his insight and his courage. Although the modern term "fool" implies someone who lacks understanding, the original fool knew quite well the conventions he chose to flout. In some cases he demonstrated the wisdom of a rule by showing the result of its absence. At other times he underscored the tyranny of a law by breaking it. In this way he was the voice of the voiceless and the face of the faceless, he allowed those holding power to gain some perspective on their role in society. At all times he acted as a teacher.
Much of this has been forgotten in a culture as heavily into social control as ours. The fool or clown has taken on a disreputable air of one who does not or can not fit into any proper role in society. Witness the label of "class clown" for those children who fail to conform and chose the means of laughter to point out flaws in the system. This mirrors the intolerance of a society that has forgotten to laugh at itself.
The greatest strength of the fool lies in his faith. In mythology fools have been long touted as miracle workers, and indeed their status makes them more capable than most to reach beyond themselves and succeed. Because his hope, belief, and imagination is unencumbered by all the dos and donts that plague the common man - he can do the impossible because he does not believe in the impossible. The phrase "dumb luck" refers to this ability, but it is not dumb - nor is it luck. The human being is capable of far more than he allows of himself in his day-to-day existence. The fool teaches that lesson.
April Fools Day is a remnant of a time when people understood the use and importance of the fool. It serves as a reminder of the strength and joy that resides within us all, if we are willing to let go and believe.