The Jester/Fool

The Fool's Prayer

by Edward Rowland Sill (1841-1887)

The royal feast was done; the King
Sought some new sport to banish care,
And to his jester cried: “Sir Fool,
kneel now and make for us a prayer!”

The jester doffed his cap and bells,
And stood the mocking court before;
They could not see the bitter smile
Behind the painted grin he wore.

He bowed his head, and bent his knee
Upon the Monarch’s silken stool;
His pleading voice arose: “O Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!

No pity, Lord, could change the heart
From red with wrong to white as wool;    The rod must heal the sin: but Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!

“‘T is not by guilt the onward sweep
Of truth and right, O Lord, we stay;
‘T is by our follies that so long
We hold the earth from heaven away.


“These clumsy feet, still in the mire,
Go crushing blossoms without end;
These hard, well-meaning hands we thrust
Among the heart-strings of a friend.

“The ill-timed truth we might have kept–
Who knows how sharp it pierced and stung?
The word we had not sense to say–
Who knows how grandly it had rung!

“Our faults no tenderness should ask.
The chastening stripes must cleanse them all;
But for our blunders — oh, in shame
Before the eyes of heaven we fall.

“Earth bears no balsam for mistakes;
Men crown the knave, and scourge the tool
That did his will; but Thou, O Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!”

The room was hushed; in silence rose
The King, and sought his gardens cool,
And walked apart, and murmured low,
“Be merciful to me, a fool!”

THe poem

The poem depicts mankind’s pretentious and careless way we treat each other and uses the Jester/Fool, to remind us to take great care of our (spiritual) values and be cautious to be consumed by worldly values.  Our propensity to seek pleasure may even cross the sanctity of a person’s spiritual beliefs as a fair “sport”.  

Bitter smile…painted grin, the Jester sees through the mockery and with a mask of composure relents.  What he does next maybe a foolish act not knowing the King’s reaction, but his prayer aims to speak truth to power.

Bowed his head and bent his knee…his pleading voice arose…, the Jester humbles himself and lifts his voice above to ask forgiveness to the one true Divine King, …. O Lord, Be merciful to me, a fool.

We hold the earth from heaven away as we hold unto earthly treasures, we distance ourselves from heaven’s gate.  But the fault lies clearly on the choices we make.

The rod must heal the sin symbolizing Christ on the Cross

the chastening stripes must cleanse them all Christ humbling himself as he is inflicted with lashes causing stripes across his back is the act that cleanses our sins.

Men Crown the knave and scourge the Tool…. Despite all Christ endured, mankind continues to fall as we persist on celebrating foolish men, while scourging Christ who did God’s will (The Tool). 

The Fool’s prayer speaks truth to power and silences everyone who hears.  Although the Jester is known as “the Fool”, his humble prayer makes it obviously clear to the royal court  and especially the king, just exactly who the fool truly is: 

The room was hushed; in silence rose
The King, and sought his gardens cool,
And walked apart, and murmured low,
Be merciful to me, a fool!

THe Jester's/Fool's Journey

As the saying goes “Laughter is the best medicine” and with life being so challenging, you seek it or wish you had the quick silver tongue to make other’s laugh. 

If you hear yourself say, “I’m just kidding” with a hint of sarcastic truth, this is the touch of jester energy working in you.  If you are one of those who thrive on making others laugh while pointing out the obvious idiocy about what they say or do, then you may want to explore the Jester archetype as part of your pattern.

Jesters are often depicted in stories sitting next to the King with the role of entertainer and truthteller.  Telling the truth was essential even if it meant deflating the King’s ego in order to rule effectively.  But he does so with humor to soften the blow.  Current famous Jester/Fools are now found in entertainment such as political satirist Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah, and Ellen DeGeneres, just to name a few. 

Jester’s motivational force energy: Joy for life and honesty with whit and humor reflecting the obvious things in life.


  • Can see what others cannot such as the paradoxes in life
  • Wise and clever
  • Pokes fun at people’s ego
  • Looks for the silver lining in difficult situations
  • Creative
  • Lives in the present moment

Behavioral Patterns:

  • Uses whit and humor to entertain
  • Self-deprecating
  • Flare for using the right words
  • Prankster, trickster
  • Truthteller
  • Appreciate the journey itself rather than find solutions
  • spontaneous

Jester/Fool’s Inner Shadow: 

Carl Jung, describes “shadow” as the dark side of the personality. But to be clear, this means the “hidden” aspects that lies in your unconscious.  According to Jung’s theory, you distance yourself psychologically from those behaviors, emotions, and thoughts you may find unacceptable to your own values or moral code. Not only unacceptable to yourself but to society’s cultural norms and values.

Distancing or rather suppressing any aspect of yourself creates the shadows. The Jester archetype in you, what could be more unacceptable than to be faced with a dreary joyless life.

The challenges:  
You thrive on making others laugh.  However, when pushed to the limit due to difficult circumstances, the challenge for you will be learning to maintain that genuine sense of fun and without resorting to deprecating yourself to be the but of everyone’s joke or pushing other people’s boundaries to extreme just to get a laugh. 

Disempowering Attributes

  • manipulative, devious
  • controlling
  • uses quick wit to humiliate
  • sarcastic
  • Self-indulgent in the moment that fails to see the consequences
  •  passive aggressive

Light- Empowering Attributes

  • wise
  • self-assured
  • uses whit to teach/guide
  • intuitive
  • Pokes fun at the ego in a humorous way
  • Helps larger audience see the idiocy and audacity of situations for change 

The Lessons for the Jester/Fool Archetype:

The lessons for Jester/Fool energy:  You have a unique gift to help others see the absurdity of how things work, what people say or do, and do it in a way that gently nudges a person’s ego to do the right thing without tearing their self-esteem. But it starts with you. 

Balancing your light and shadow tendencies is best achieved by knowing your intentions. What are your motives behind poking fun at someone? Is it for power and control or to make fun of others to enhance your self-esteem at the expense of others (Dale, 2012)   Your ability to see what others cannot gives you the opportunity to make great impact in individuals and society at large.

Everyone has a bit of silliness inside of them.  When it comes to challenging times in your life, tap into that Jester/Fool energy.  Tap into the strengths while keeping an eye on your weaknesses so that you may always chose integrity.  Here are some of the lessons from the Jester archetype to get you through tough times:

  • Tap into your skill to think outside the box whenever you feel stuck.
  • Listen to your gut instinct and stay focused on the present moment
  • Explore and engage in activities that give you joy; tap into your creative energy
  • Don’t take things personally
  • Know you are not alone and use your gift to lift other’s spirit even if its just for the moment. You will find that yours will be lifted up too.

2.  DALE, BRIAN. ARCHETYPES: Unmasking Your True Self. BALBOA PRESS AUSTRALIA, 2017.  
3. YouTube: The Fools Prayer – a poem by Edward R Sill read by Seanie Ruttledge

Remy Nirschl, Archetypal Consultant
—— About Remy Nirschl:

 Propelled into the autism journey in 2004 and health challenges in her family, this lead Remy to engage in self-development process using Caroline Myss, “Sacred Contract”.  She is called to mentor others using Archetypal journey so that others may also find their way through clarity and empowerment within themselves. 
Want to learn more about your other Archetypal Patterns?  Read more….

Affiliated with Rocky Mountain Essential oils. Link to RMO  Read more…

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