The World card signifies that we’ve finally reached the apex of our journeys. Waite says it represents “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.” To highlight that self-knowing, we again see the four living creatures of Ezekiel that we first encountered on the Wheel of Fortune card. There, the creatures were all studying books. Here, their faces are wide open. The message is clear: all the lessons have been learned. We’ve been reborn into something new and wonderful…and the Journey begins again.
Of this particular mystery, Rachel Pollack says:
Everything in the universe moves, the Earth around the sun, the sun within the galaxy, the galaxies in clusters, all cycling around each other. There is no centre, no place where we can say, ‘Here it all began, here it all stops.’ Yet the centre exists, everywhere, for in a dance the dancer does not move around any arbitrary point in space, but rather the dance carries its own sense of unity focused around a constantly moving, constantly peaceful centre. Nothing and everything all at once.
And so we return to the Fool. Innocence and emptiness, united with wisdom. […] The oval wreath suggests the number 0, with all its symbolism. It implies as well the cosmic egg, the archetype of emergence; all things exist in potential and all potentials are realized. The self is everywhere in all things. The sashes at the top and bottom of the wreath are tied into infinity signs, indicating that the self is not enclosed but open to the universe.
The sashes are red, the colour of the root chakra in Kundalini symbolism. The dancer has not lost her physical being, her root in material, sexual reality. Instead, the energy is constantly flowing, transformed and renewed. The green of the wreath symbolizes the natural world raised up rather than abandoned. Green is also the colour of loving and healing, radiating wholeness to everyone, even those who are not consciously aware of it. Purple (the banner) is the colour of divinity and blue (the sky) the color of communication. When we know that divinity is not something out there, but within ourselves, then our very presence communicates this truth to those around us.
Robin Wood’s card is very much like Waite’s, with the major change of removing the four creatures and replacing them with more literal representations of the four elements. In my mind, this is stronger than the creatures: we do not need to encounter the elements in symbol any more: we can experience them more fully than ever before.
Wood’s dancing (or leaping) woman is clad not in purple, but it white “to show her purity and the endless opportunities available.” White is also the presence of all colors and the blankness of a new page: a mystery not dissimilar to that of the World card itself. The wrap also floats around her to form an infinity loop to reinforce its endlessness.
Wood notes that her figure holds two different wands: silver with green stones in her left and crystal with pink stones in her right. These show her mastery over the seen and unseen worlds, as well as both animal and vegetable life. She is balanced in all ways (which is how she is able to dance so gracefully). The wreath with all its luscious vegetation represents the world and her victory over its trials. Each of the different plants has a different symbolism (oranges for the sun, poppies for fertility, etc.), and together all these energies equal the world. The red infinity ribbons show its vitality and nod to the mystery of “as above, so below.”
Behind the woman is a starry sky to again nod to her unlimited potential and to show she is comfortable in the world of mystery. The five stars connect again to the five senses, and their four points relate to the material four elements. As Wood says, “This is where the material world meets the starlight, and true vision, ability, and competence are born.”
The four elements around the card make up the corporal aspects of the world. The central woman and her stars stands for the attainment of the fifth element, spirit. With physical and non-physical elements finally combined, anything is possible!
KEYWORDS: Wholeness and Mastery, Integrating, Accomplishing, Being Involved, Feeling Fulfilled.
Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Concentrated your mind on your solar-plexus chakra. Follow your breathing; observe each inhalation and exhalation. In this way you unify the workings of your mind and your body. Now imagine an energy at the center of your solar plexus. With each exhalation, the energy enlarges. Watch it expand to fill your body. Then the energy moves past your body and fills the space in which you sit. Then the energy enlarges to fill your neighborhood. The energy continues to expand, flooding over cities, over vast areas of land. It moves across seas. It envelops the earth. When your energy reaches this stage, open your eyes. How do you feel?
Keep the World card with you today or place it on your altar. Many of us appreciate the concept of nature, but we don’t spend the time getting it on us and in us. Go into a natural setting today and spend time experiencing this place through the senses.
The card descriptions are a combination of my own insights and paraphrasing from a handful of sources. I’m currently working with Rachel Pollack’s book Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom, Robin Wood’s Robin Wood Tarot: The Book, and a smattering from Waite’s Pictorial Key. I also strongly recommend Joan Bunning’s book Learning the Tarot as well as the resources found on her website, learntarot.com.