April in the Wheel of the Year Part 1: April Fools, Trickster Deities, and Wisdom - By Lucya Starza

01/04/22 | By Lucya Szachnowski

April in the Wheel of the Year Part 1: April Fools, Trickster Deities, and Wisdom - By Lucya Starza

I know this is April 1st but I promise I’m not going to be playing any jokes. What I will be doing is looking at the origins of April Fool’s Day, the trickster and the wisdom of the fool.

The probable origin of April Fools' Day is that it started in 1582 when Pope Gregory XIII's Gregorian Calendar replaced the Julian Calendar, meaning New Year's Day fell three months earlier. News travelled slowly back then. Many people didn’t find out about the changes and continued to celebrate the start of the year on what had actually become April 1. They got called "April Fools". However, there are references to April Fool type customs before 1582. Chaucer's Story The Nun's Priest's Tale, written about 1400, is about two fools and takes place "thritty dayes and two" - or 32 days - from the start of March, which would be April 1.

April Fool traditions vary from country to country. In France, people who are tricked are called Poisson d'Avril, which means "April Fish". A common joke is to stick a paper fish to a person's back. In Scotland, the victim of a hoax is called an April "Gowk", which is a Scottish word for cuckoo. Cuckoos start to arrive in the country this month.


The trickster is also an important figure in folklore, mythology, magic and divination. They appear in cultural traditions all over the world as deities, characters, spirits and animals. Tricksters include Norse god Loki, Greek goddess Eris, Indigenous American Coyote and Raven, and Reynard the Fox from European folklore. They break the rules and use cunning to gain the upper hand. They can be serious troublemakers or humorous pranksters - the bad guys of legend or simply clowns. Nevertheless, valuable lessons can be learnt from them. In his book Trickster Makes This World: Mischief, Myth and Art, Lewis Hyde writes that the trickster is one of the oldest mythological archetypes, dating back to the time of hunter gatherers, when trickery was often needed to catch food. He writes:

"The trickster myth derives creative intelligence from appetite. It begins with a being whose main concern is being fed and ends with the same being grown mentally swift, adept at creating and unmasking deceit, proficient at masking his tracks and seeing through the devices used by others to mask theirs."

In today’s world, creative problem solving is still important, but we are also living in times when many people are trying to be more authentic in the way they present their identity. In Pagan Portals - Loki, Trickster and Transformer, Dagulf Loptson writes: “He will teach you to break the rules, live authentically, and never apologize for who you are...he will teach you..self-sufficiency, self-acceptance, creative problem solving, and marching to the beat of your own drum.”

Tarot Symbolism

In tarot decks, the Magician, the first trump of the Major Arcana, follows the Fool, which is the zero card. The Magician is something of a performer. The dapper chap in The Wisdom Seeker’s Tarot by David Fontana (pictured) looks like an entertainer. In some decks he’s actually called the Trickster, such as in The Elemental Tarot by Caroline Smith. He plays the crowd using sleight of hand, he juggles the elements with confidence and makes a little knowledge go a long way. Essentially, the trickster is a guide or archetype for hard times, who teaches us to turn adversity to our advantage, to learn not only how to get out of trouble but also how to take advantage of it as if by magic. Of course, the trickster doesn't always win, but he gives himself a good chance of doing so.

The Wisdom of the Fool

While tricksters can win the day, there’s also value in the wisdom of the fool. In many decks, including The Wisdom Seeker’s Tarot, the Fool card shows a carefree young person in colourful clothing enjoying a sunny walk along a cliff. They are travelling light with a little dog at their heels, but possibly just about to walk over the edge. The positive aspects of this card offer the lure of adventure and freedom from responsibilities. It’s about new beginnings, setting out on a journey and not quite knowing where that will end or what people or places one will meet along the way.

Of course, some of those places might be dangerous and some of those people might be tricksters. You don’t want to take a fall. So, along with the fun of being carefree, the message is that one should look where one is going and watch for potential dangers. The little dog represents our natural instincts and intuition giving us a warning, which we should pay attention to. Sunny days in April can seem the perfect time to set off on a journey or adventure, or start a new project. The wisdom is to heed your instincts, and decide which risks are worth taking.

This is part of a series of posts I’m writing for the Moon Books Blog on the theme of the Wheel of the Year. They will be compiled and edited into a book: Pagan Portals – Wheel of the Year. Other books by Lucya Starza in the Pagan Portals series include Candle Magic, Guided Visualisations, Poppets and Magical Dolls, and Scrying. Lucya edited the community book Every Day Magic – A Pagan Book of Days. The photograph shows cards from The Wisdom Seeker’s Tarot by David Fontana, published by Watkins.


0 comments on this article

This thread has been closed from taking new comments.