Card Meaning: XXI The WORLD

The World
Element: Earth
Planet: Saturn
Hebrew letter: Tav, ת


   At last we are at the end, or is it the end? The journey that we started as The Fool now enter its last stage, but as we look more deeply it is only the end of the cycle, in a way just the beggining of another journey. This card bears the number 21. 21 is a triple manifestation of the number 7, that signifies the end of one cycle and the beginning of the next. In Tarot the end in our material sense of the word doesn't exist. Every end is a seed of something else, there is always one more level to comprehend, one more step to make, like in some sort of neverending video game where there is always another task to acomplish. In another words, this card just symbolizes our graduation on one level of our existence. Saturn rules this card, thus giving the imprint of limits and control. Saturn is often deemed as a malefic, the one that bring sadness and difficulties. It also signifies time, so this card also has a sense of completition, as we already said, the graduation. This is a card of a cosmic consciousness, becoming one with higher self on all levels, natural conclusion of the process expained in the Judgement. Saturn in this case acts as a scholar, the one that through power of concetration and knowledge of his own limits gains completition and understanding of his wholesness. 


   The Visconti-Sforza tarot deck features two angels that holds a sphere that obviously represents The World. Most of the later tarot decks have some sort of the sphere, usually indicating the World/Earth. Also, very often there is a person standing on the top of the sphere clearly indicating the victory over material world. The caracters can be male or female, sometimes the characters are impossible to identify.


  In the material world, this card often manifests as a graduation or promotion of a kind, advancing to a higher position or on more subtle way an initiation to a deeper level of understanding and knowledge. There is always a feeling of a completion of a significant cycle in querent life. One can literally feel wholesness and joy. It can be viewed as a time for great achievement and arrival of one's heart's desire. On the other hand, negative meanings encompass impatience, delay, lack of fruition due to recklesness and general stagnation.

earth element, wreath, zodiac, the universe,

   In the middle of the card we see a dancing feminine figure. Unlike some others figures on the previous cards, for example, The Devil,  this figure is obviously feminine.  Although in some decks this figure is considered both male and female here we can see that authors of the deck were aiming on something else. A wreath around the figure is Yoni -  The Divine Womb, the cervix through which manifestation comes into the material realm. Also, the wreath is very similar to number zero, symbolizing unmanifested potential that is yet to be discovered. The figure bears wands in her hands, clearly a reminiscence on The Magician card where the first sign of the divine will was present as a giving, masculine principle. Here, the feminine principle with masculine principle gives a birth to a complete world, hence, the name of the card is natural as one can see the totality of this principles. The figure is dancing, another memento on a divine dance of creation of Shakti and Shiva in Tantric cosmology. The woman is cloaked in the veil that clearly resembles hebrew letter Kaph, that on the other hand symbolizes the Wheel of Fortune card. Indeed, this is not the only motif that bring us back on that card. First of all wee see the four creatures in the corners of the card. Not so careful look and we can easily recognize that they are also in the Wheel of Fortune card, but while on that card creatures on the wheel are going up and down, from joy to sorrow, from good to evil, in this card there is no more wheel but rather carousel that brings you in whatever part of the universe you want in the final state of completition and bliss. This four creatures also symbolizes the four directions, the four fixed signs of Zodiac and also the divine rules that are in the corners of the creation. Another explanation is very similar, those are the four cherubs in the four domains; the bull for matter, the eagle for time, the lion for energy and the man for space. We can even see one more link to previous cards, the dancer has its legs crossed, the first look indicates this is identical position assumed by The Hanged One, but opposite, while The Hanged One card was projected in introspection and inwardly, The World is projected outwardly, to the universe.

As this final message of the Major Trumps is unchanged--and indeed unchangeable--in respect of its design, it has been partly described already regarding its deeper sense. It represents also the perfection and end of the Cosmos, the secret which is within it, the rapture of the universe when it understands itself in God. It is further the state of the soul in the consciousness of Divine Vision, reflected from the self-knowing spirit. But these meanings are without prejudice to that which I have said concerning it on the material side.

It has more than one message on the macrocosmic side and is, for example, the state of the restored world when the law of manifestation shall have been carried to the highest degree of natural perfection. But it is perhaps more especially a story of the past, referring to that day when all was declared to be good, when the morning stars sang together and all the Sons of God shouted for joy. One of the worst explanations concerning it is that the figure symbolizes the Magus when he has reached the highest degree of initiation; another account says that it represents the absolute, which is ridiculous. The figure has been said to stand for Truth, which is, however, more properly allocated to the seventeenth card. Lastly, it has been called the Crown of the Magi.

The Pictorial Key to the Tarot, by A.E. Waite

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