The Fool: Namesake of the Master
The Qabalistic attributions for this first card of the Major Arcana are as follows:
1. The Hebrew letter Aleph
2. The number Zero
3. The Alchemical element of Air
Aleph is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet and the first of the three mother letters. It is written in such a manner as to represent a plowshare and is translated as Ox. Aleister Crowley says the significance of this is primarily phallic in that it represents the initial impulse of the universe.
In mathematics, the first number is naturally zero; hence the attribution of Zero to the first card of the Major Arcana. Qabalistic Zero represents the balance of opposites above the abyss on the Tree-of-Life. Thus Zero is the “negative source of all things”. The most potent balance of opposites is the interconnection between male and female. This produces a fertilized ovum which is at first conception, sexually neutral.
So the element of Air attributed to this card, represents a vacuum when considering the annihilation of opposites and its necessary termination in the Ain Soph Aur. Remember: contradistinction is unity above the abyss and duality below it.
All in all, this is the Great Night (N.O.X.) of Pan — the all-devourer and all-begetter. Pan, of course, is also known as Bacchus Diphues; the Green Man of Spring; the great drunken fool. All cognate symbols for this card should somehow conform to this.
In popular exoteric decks we see this merry fool about to fall off of a cliff. This is consistent with the Qabalistic symbolism if you read carefully what I have said above. However, the explanation provided by most decks for this depiction usually falls short of adequately representing the esoteric symbolism which generally results in misleading the student as to the true nature of the card.
As you begin to study the Major Arcana, take a lesson from this and carefully study the Qabalistic attributions of each card. Only then can one determine the true meaning of the symbols provided with each card. In the case of this leading card, you will begin to see that the Master is a great Fool.