On an inner level, Dionysus, the Fool, is an image of the mysterious impulse within us to leap into the unknown. The conservative, cautious, realistic side of us watches with horror this wild, youthful spirit who, trusting in heaven, is prepared to walk over the cliff’s edge without a moment’s hesitation. The madness of Dionysus seems mad only to that part of us which is bound to the world of form, facts and logical order. But in a more profound sense it is not madness, for it is the impulse toward change which comes upon us ‘out of the blue’, which has no rational basis and preplanned program of action. The god is portrayed in animal skins because, in a way, this intuitive, irrational dimension to the human personality is a kind of sixth sense an animal instinct which hears a music to which jaded ears, used to concrete reality, are not attuned. Dionysus is the son of the Kind of the gods, and it is his father’s spirit to which he is in tune, although he is ordained to live on earth with mortals; but it is difficult to know when this impulse strikes us, whether it has come from Zeus’ heavenly abode or a darker, more underworld place.
Thus Dionysus, the Fool, represents the irrational impulse toward change and toward opening life’s horizons into the unknown. The Fool stands at the beginning of his journey, and when we are struck by the mysterious impulse which he represents, we to stand at the threshold of a journey. These irrational impulses can sometimes be destructive, and sometimes creative; and often they are both together. The wild god can sometimes leap off a cliff’s edge into painful and damaging situations which may also yield wonderfully creative beginnings, and so craving for some spiritual food which he or she cannot fully understand. But if we never respond to these calls from the other world, then we sink into drab, meaningless, banal lives, and wonder, at the end of life, what we have missed and why the world seems so empty. Thus the Fool is a highly ambivalent figure, for there is no guarantee at the beginning of such a journey whether we will arrive safely, if at all. Yet not to begin is to deny the god, which on an inner level means to deny all in us that is youthful, creative, and in touch with that which is greater than ourselves.