In collaboration with Leslie Hart
Everyday life presents us with challenges both great and small. A sad mood swing can suddenly spoil an otherwise great day. Dealing with a chronic illness can make even the sunniest of days, seem dark and bleak. There’s a seemingly never ending array of life challenges that we all must navigate. As a result, we may find that there is too little joy left in our daily life experience.
In our eternal pursuit of happiness, we seek solutions and earnestly research every option available to us. For example, we may go on a shopping spree to lift our mood and distract us from our daily stressors. The pursuit of money is an engrained value within our society, along with the belief that it can buy true happiness.
During bouts of extended depression, we may look to some form of clinical therapy. There are self-help options and countless literary works that we may choose to explore. We may look to religion and/or spirituality for insights into life’s more profound questions. There is exercise, adopting a healthy lifestyle and all sorts of holistic alternative health modalities available. We may explore all of these options, this along with hard work, endless dedication, and yet our spirit may continue to struggle.
Fear not, for there is an age-old ceremony that has a strong problem dissolving capacity. It’s easy and will not cost you a dime. The catch? Traditionally, this ceremony is only held once a year, a week and a half after the vernal equinox. Why this particular time of year, you might ask? Looking at the Eastern understanding of energetic flow might hold a clue:
Embracing Spring Energy
The wood energy prevails over the spring time. A tree teaches us about softly embracing nutrients to expand and stretch, as the wood grows, not only upwards but also outwards. Spring time encourages nourishment, making room for new, releasing condensed and stuck energy. It is about allowing the inner seed to awaken and blossom. In so doing a new life cycle starts, as these blossoms prepare the formation of seeds and the later harvest. Not to forget that the name April is traditionally traced back to the Latin verb “aperire” to open.
But why celebrate this ceremony on just one day, several days after the vernal equinox? This used to be the end of the New Year celebrations held in many cultures. Their new year started with the vernal equinox ending around our special day with a celebration that loosened any remaining wintry worries. Even the old Romans knew to celebrate this time of year with the joyous festival of Hilaria (although they celebrated this festival about 3 days earlier than our ceremony in question).
Getting it Fully Right
Now you might be glancing at your calendar, looking at star charts as you try to prepare for this unknown miraculous day. Surely, this must be hidden knowledge, confidentially passed down from master to student. It has to be a solemn occasion, with its ceremonies and regulations. Well not quite. It is so easy you could believe I am fooling you!
This age-old ceremony is indeed antique … or should the word be “antic”? It requires an antic approach, that enables an exchange of laughter between two or more people. More over there are no rules as to its length or its repetitions. The giver of joy devises a simple, little joyous act, to catch the receiver off guard. Soon the giver becomes the receiver and vice versa, as both share the gift of open laughter and enjoyment. The only important incantation to be enunciated properly and with loving gusto is: “April fool!” The tricky part for the giver is finding a loving joke that invites open joviality with no harm. On the flip side the receiver’s job is to fully embrace the role of the fool without being self-conscious.
The Full Role of the Fool
In Tarot the Fool stands at the beginning of the journey of the great arcade. Stepping into the unknown he neither worries about what lies ahead nor about what others might think of him. He is at the precipice of the new and has no intention to turn back. In our jovial Age-Old Ceremony the recipient, too, walks forward into the unknown and should not worry. Taking on the role of the fool we learn trust and relinquish fear, to open up and make room for the joy that ensues. Like this we can share in the laughter rather than feeling self-conscious or even harboring feelings of revenge. What is more the ensuing joviality carries forward by direct and indirect witnesses of the ceremony. What a gift of love and joy you can spread!
Many Shakespeare plays highlight the roles of the court jester. Commonly, downplayed as a fool, he is a fountain of wisdom and a mirror to those who dare to look behind his foolish words. These characters teach us the value of being honest and open whilst teaching with a smile. Our reaction to the gift given in our Age-Old Ceremony is not only the punch line, but it lies in our hands how much positive energy we allow it create.
“I Love to Laugh!”
We all know the fun scene in Mary Poppins of the joyous tea party on the ceiling. The infectious laughter raising all involved to higher heights. Nobody cares how silly their laugh is (“some people laugh through their noses … “) or whether the others are laughing at or with them. Though we might never be able to inspect our light bulbs thanks to a good hearty laugh, we all do know how uplifting and feel-good infectious laughter can be. We go beyond speech, sometimes even beyond breathing possibilities, and just enjoy the waves of happiness bouncing around the room. Anyone walking in will have a very hard time dodging the waves of joy. And why would they?
But such laughter needs a starting point. Whether our calendar announces the joyous day of this miraculous ceremony, or it is just some gloomy day in need of sunshine. Embrace the inner fool whenever possible and invite those around you to a joyous trip to the higher heights. Common side effects include:
- a good belly work out
- short to long term anti-depressant
- reduction of observed problem sizes
- not taking yourself and/or life too seriously
- friendship and trust
And all this at no cost of time nor money. Giving and receiving the gift of laughter should indeed be celebrated and not just on a specific date. Let us rather take this time of year as a reminder to spring into action, open up to joy, embrace each other with a laugh and be a brilliant fool … or “A Bril’ Fool”!