Archetypes – Holy Fool

Disclaimer: I’m using archetype in its sense of a recurrent motif. But on the other hand, I’m not claiming to have distilled any cosmic ideas. This is just my terminology for things in my own head, whether they exist outside or otherwise. I’m just showing you a bit of my internal landscape.

The Holy Fool is not a new concept. In the past of the Roman Catholic Church, many saints and lesser holy folk were ‘fools for Christ’. It was seen not as madness but as a rejection of all things worldly, with an element of being closer to God than an ordinary human. There were parallels in other cultures, too, primarily Eastern religions.

But what’s my idea of the Holy Fool? Well, there are several characteristics. A little bit daffy, mad, prone to apparently random remarks, but primarily friendly and good-natured, perhaps unless you cross him.
And gifted with special powers; that’s important. Whether it’s the ability to speak to God, or a tendency for those random remarks to later be revealed as special knowledge, or intrinsic powers and abilities of his own, the Holy Fool is set apart from ordinary humans. And he is not worldly. His connection to the place where he stands is always tenuous; he is unhomed, a wanderer, a traveler. And all his relationships are platonic, whether the other person wants it that way or not. Therein lies his angst, and the appeal that draws people to fall in love with him, hopelessly.

You already know of whom I speak, don’t you? Well, you’re right, the very best example of the Holy Fool archetype in modern-day Western culture is Dr. Who, both the original series and the current one. He’s not the only example though. Consider the appeal of the vampire. Where does today’s emo really want to stand? How about Superman, or most other superheroes?

I want to write a story featuring this archetype, but it has not yet gelled in my mind.


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