Tarot: The World

Tarot: The World

Tarot: The World

Our journey of the Major Arcana has come full circle as we flip over the twenty-first card of the Major Arcana. We watch, with wide-eyed wonder, as The World unfolds itself at our feet. This is a magical place where we see our greatest aspirations manifested. Every glossy leaf and fragrant blossom celebrates the trials and tribulations of the long road home. From this space, we are able to see all that has brought us to this long-awaited moment.

It is at the end of The World that we embrace a kind of wisdom that can only come from walking the entire length of The Fool’s journey, from beginning to end. The 21st card, the last of the numerical progression, asks you to celebrate the fullness of this moment. This is no minor milestone. You have reached your destination. You’ve done it! Now is the time to pause, sigh, take a breath…and take it all in. Embrace the moment of your actualization.

The World represents harmony, perfection, and completion. It marks an opportunity to wrap things up in a meaningful way. Put a bow on your project, admire your divine work, and allow yourself to rest. This card also signifies a time of renewal. Once you’ve been given respite and time to enjoy the warm glow of success, the cycle will begin again. The World, in all its glory, will be here waiting for you at the end of your next major journey. Life is but a series of these moments. 

As you look outward, take a moment to appreciate what you have put into the Universe and how it is connected to everything else. Recognize that you are an integral part of everything you see and the journey was worth it.

Major Arcana Symbolism

Tarot Card NameThe World
Traditional Card ImageryA dancing woman standing on top of planet Earth
Traditional SymbolismSynthesis, self actualization, sacred contracts, wholeness, infinite possibilities, perfection, cycles, eternity, coming full circle, cosmic consciousness, preparing for a new beginning, the esoteric side of nature, human consciousness in the circle of time between the four elements, the beginning and the end, becoming whole
Card NumberXXI, 21
Classical ElementEarth
Influencing ElementAether / Akasha, Air
Traditional Upright MeaningCulmination, sense of belonging, completion, integration, celebration, success, accomplishment, wholeness, expansion, travel, potential fulfilled, achievement, harmony, answering your soul’s calling
Traditional Reversed MeaningSeeking personal closure, lack of achievement, feeling incomplete, short-cuts, stagnation, lack of closure, constriction, not understanding your purpose or place in the world, emptiness, delays, disharmony
Archetype In NatureThe continuity of all existence, as expressed in the dance of life
ChakraRoot, Earth Star, Crown, Soul Star
Astrological CorrespondenceCapricorn, Aquarius, Saturn
Yes or NoYes
Crystals and StonesRuby, Mookaite Jasper, Garnet, Fire Opal, Red Coral, Fire Agate, Rhodolite, Red Carnelian, Red Jasper, Milky Quartz, Herkimer Diamond, White Jade, Moissanite, Abalone Shell, White Agate, Moonstone, White Marble, Goshenite, Mother of Pearl, Iris Agate, White Sapphire, Howlite, Selenite, White Zircon, Ammolite, White Quartz, Rainbow Moonstone, Pearl, White Onyx, Clear Topaz, Opal, Magnesite, Clear Quartz, Diamond, Purple Topaz, Angel Silica, Purpurite, Tanzanite, Purple Aventurine, Iolite, Super 7, Purple Agate, Amethyst, Purple Jade, Charoite, Purple Sapphire, Star Garnet, Sugilite, Lavender Fluorite, Purple Mica, Lavender Ametrine, Zoisite, Purple Zircon, Kunzite
The-World-XXI-Tarot-Rider-Waite-Graphic

Allegory of The World

An unexpected vision appeared to me. A circle not unlike a wreath woven from rainbow and lightnings, whirled from heaven to earth with a stupendous, velocity, blinding me by its brilliance. And amidst this light and fire I heard music and soft singing, thunderclaps and the roar of a tempest, the rumble of falling mountains and earthquakes.

The circle whirled with a terrifying noise, touching the sun and the earth, and, in the centre of it I saw the naked, dancing figure of a beautiful young woman, enveloped by a light, transparent scarf, in her hand she held a magic wand.

Presently the four apocalyptical beasts began to appear on the edges of the circle; one with the face of a lion, another with the face of a man, the third, of an eagle and the fourth, of a bull. The vision disappeared as suddenly as it appeared. A weird silence fell on me. “What does it mean?” I asked in wonder.

“It is the image of the world,” the voice said, “but it can be understood only after the Temple has been entered.

“This is a vision of the world in the circle of Time, amidst the four principles. But thou seest differently because thou seest the world outside thyself. Learn to see it in thyself and thou wilt understand the infinite essence, hidden in all illusory forms.

“Understand that the world which thou knowest is only one of the aspects of the infinite world, and things and phenomena are merely hieroglyphics of deeper ideas.”

-The Symbolism of the Tarot by P.D. Ouspensky (1913)

The World Meaning

The World (XXI)

The World 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 the condition of the soul in the consciousness of Divine Vision, reflected from the self-knowing spirit. It should be noted that this card has more than one message on a macrocosmic level.

This card represents the state of the restored world when the law of manifestation shall have been carried to the highest degree of natural perfection. To a greater extent, it is a story of the past and refers 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. The figure in the center of the card has has been said to stand for Truth and the Crown of the Magi.

-Modern Translation of The Pictorial Key to the Tarot by A.E. Waite (1910)

The World Card Imagery

The World, the Universe, or Time Card shows the four living creatures of the Apocalypse and Ezekiel’s vision (of Christian symbolism). These creatures are grouped around an elliptic garland, as if it were a chain of flowers intended to everything that can be perceived by the senses. Within this garland there is
the figure of a woman, whom the wind has wrapped with a light scarf. This is the only clothing she wears.

The woman is in the act of dancing, and has a wand in either hand. It is eloquent as an image of the
swirl of the sensitive life and of joy attained in the body. A symbol the soul’s intoxication in the earthly
paradise, while still guarded by the Divine Watchers (the powers and the graces of the Holy Name, Tetragammaton), JVHV: The four unspoken letters which are sometimes attributed to the
mystical beasts.

Éliphas Lévi calls the garland a crown, and claims that the figure represents Truth. Dr. Papus connects the garland with the Absolute and the culmination of the Great Work. Others view it as a symbol of humanity and the eternal reward of a life that has been spent well. It should be noted that in the four quarters of the garland there are four flowers distinctively marked.

According to P. Christian, the garland should be formed of roses. This is the kind of chain which Éliphas Lévi says is less easily broken than a chain of iron. Perhaps this explains why the iron crown of Peter may he more lightly on the heads of sovereign popes than the crown of gold on kings.

-Modern Translation of The Pictorial Key to the Tarot by A.E. Waite (1910)

The-World-XXI-Symbolism-Infographic

The World Meaning

A nude female figure, holding a wand in each hand, is placed in the center of an ellipsis, her legs crossed (like those of the Hanged Man in the twelfth card). At the four angles of the card we find the four animals of the Apocalypse, and the four forms of the Sphinx: the Man, the Lion, the Bull, and the Eagle.

This symbol represents Macrocosm and Microcosm, God and the Creation, or the Law of the Absolute. The four figures placed at the four corners represent the four letters of the sacred name and the four great symbols of the Tarot: The Scepter (Fire), The Cup (Water), The Sword (Earth), The Pentacle (Air).

Between the sacred word that signifies God and the center of the figure is a circle, or an ellipsis, representing Nature and her regular and fatal course. From this comes the name of Rota (wheel) given to it by Guillaume Postel.

Lastly, the center of the figure represents humanity, Adam-Eve, and the third term of the great trinity of the Absolute. This trinity is constructed of: The Impenetrable Absolute, the Ein Sof (infinitude) of the Kabbalists, and the Para Brahm (highest ultimate reality) of the Hindus.

The impenetrable Absolute or God 1st septenary.
The soul of the Absolute or Man 2nd septenary.
The body of the Absolute or the Universe 3rd septenary.

This twenty-first card of the Tarot contains, in itself, a recapitulation of all our work and proves to us the truth of our deductions. We shall also see that this card of the Tarot gives the key of all our applications of the deck to the Year, to Philosophy, to the Kabbalah, etc.

-Modern Translation of The Tarot of The Bohemians by Papus (1892)

Significations of The World

  • The Impenetrable Absolute = God
  • The Soul of the Absolute = Man
  • The Body of the Absolute = The Universe

-Tarot of The Bohemians by Papus (1892)

The World Card

The World Card

The Meaning of The World Card Throughout History

The Tarot deck is a beautiful synthesis of esoteric thought and archetypal imagery. The journey of the deck, shaped by the events and values of each era, has continued to evolve and take on new significance as it adapts to a larger cultural story. Often a tarot card will have a variety of names and meanings. Exploring the historical interpretations of each card will create a deeper understanding of this powerful method for divination and self-discovery.

Various Names for The World Card

Tarot de Marseille (1650)The World
Court de Gébelin (1781)Time
Etteilla (1783)Voyage / Earth
Paul Christian (1870)The Crown of the Magi
Golden Dawn (1888)The Great One of the Night of Time
Papus (1892)The World
Rider-Waite (1910)The World
Thoth (1943)The Universe
The World (XXI) - 5 card Tarot Spread

Card XXI: The Universe
(The World)

Within a flowery wreath is a female figure nude save for a light scarf. She represents Nature and the Divine Presence therein. In each hand she should bear a wand. At the four angles of the card are the four cherubic animals of the Apocalypse. Above, the Eagle and the Man; below, the Lion and the Bull. It represents Completion, Reward.

Upright: Completion, Good Reward
Reversed: Evil Reward, or Recompense

-The Tarot by S.L. MacGregor Mathers (1888)

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The Pictorial Key to the Tarot

The World (XXI) - The Illustrated Key to the Tarot published 1918, public domain
The World (XXI) – The Illustrated Key to the Tarot published 1918, public domain

This guide by Arthur Edward Waite, the designer of the most widely known Tarot deck and distinguished scholar of the Kabbalah, is the essential Tarot reference. The pictorial key contains a detailed description of each card in the celebrated 78-card Rider-Waite Tarot deck, along with regular and reversed meanings. Contents describe symbols and secret tradition, ancient Celtic methods of divination, and wonderful illustrations of each Tarot card. This book is the perfect complement to old-style fortune telling and also serves to make the Tarot entirely accessible to modern-day readers. The Pictorial Key to the Tarot is the classic guide to the Rider-Waite deck and to Tarot symbolism in general.

Harmonious Tarot

The World (XXI) - Harmonious Tarot by Walter Crane and Earnest Fitzpatrick © 2005 Lo Scarabeo srl. All rights reserved, used by permission.
The World (XXI) – Harmonious Tarot by Walter Crane and Earnest Fitzpatrick © 2005 Lo Scarabeo srl. All rights reserved, used by permission.

The mythical world of Lady Victoria Westwood will enchant you with it’s charming feel of a hand-painted tea cup or maidens fanning a goddess. The borders of the Harmonious Tarot show typical Victorian decorative flowers, and the backs are intense, mirrored mazes like rugs or wall hangings that are ideal as focal points for meditation and pathworking. It’s subtlety and whimsy makes this deck ideal to bring forth new insights and realizations. Like the Victorians, it’s depth is often more than is apparent on the surface.

Golden Art Nouveau Tarot

The World (XXI) - Golden Art Nouveau Tarot by Giulia F. Massaglia © 2019 Lo Scarabeo srl. All rights reserved, used by permission.
The World (XXI) – Golden Art Nouveau Tarot by Giulia F. Massaglia © 2019 Lo Scarabeo srl. All rights reserved, used by permission.

The gold-foil details of this outstanding deck perfectly complement the elegant designs and gracefully curved lines of the classic art nouveau style. Artist Giulia F. Massaglia captures the essence of the RWS symbolism and makes it truly sacred with her immaculate illustrations. Whether you’re reading for yourself, for friends, or for clients, the Golden Art Nouveau Tarot provides all the insights and wisdom of a traditional tarot with the addition of a stunning visual presentation. These cards add a glorious touch of sparkle and shine to your tarot practice.

How will you Harness The Transformative Power of The Tarot?

We invite you to walk into a cosmic narrative in which we are all a unique element in each other’s story. Humanity has long used sacred tools for awakening the soul and illuminating our path toward enlightenment. The Tarot is simply an instrument. These cards amplify your inner wisdom and empower your highest truth.

What aspects of The Tarot can serve you as you walk through your own Mystic Doorway?

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What you have read is only the beginning…

Mystic Doorway is always gaining new insight into the rich symbolism of Tarot. We are looking forward to sharing with you as we continue to expand our knowledge of this divinatory tool. Check back with us soon to see what we’ve added to our Library.