The Playing Cards Joker is a Knock-Off Version of the Fool in Tarot. As with all knock-offs, they substituted authenticity with something synthetic. They demoted the magnificent Card Zero of the Tarot to a ‘wild card.’ The Trickster turned into just a jester. The Fool is Coyote-Raven energy. But the playing card version tries to domesticate it.
Mind you; it’s not personal. All the cards got Muggled. Modern playing cards evolved from the Tarot. The four suits of Diamonds, Clubs, Staves, and Hearts are akin to the Tarot’s Pentacles, Wands, Swords, and Cups. The playing cards keep the Kings, Queens, and Knights but lose the Pages and esoteric symbolism. And the Joker is all that remains of the Major Arcana; The Magician, the High Priestess, the Star and so on.
There Were Good Reasons To Un-Magic The Tarot
There were likely good reasons to un-magic the Tarot and make it into a pale phantom of its true self. The Church ran vicious inquisitions for centuries, against herbalists, midwives, astrologers, and anyone still loving the Old Deities. In times when anyone could be deemed a witch, imprisoned, tortured and executed, you would not want to be concealing the real Tarot under your mattress.
Still, it is strange to think of the rich characters and themes of the Major Arcana left out of the narrative. It is similar to rejecting an extraordinary pantheon of gods, goddesses, demi-gods, nymphs, elementals, angels, magical ley lines and animal spirits. For what? A religion ruled by one male god with arguably limited views on many topics.
Even so, the days of the week are named after the Old Deities. And on any one of these days, we can summon a set of Tarot cards to be sent to us from Amazon, for a few pentacles. The real meaning of the playing cards Joker is that he is the Magician or the Trickster and he won. He’s still here. Magic is real.