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Tarot 21 – The World

By James Donahue

The World is the final Tarot card in the Major Arcana. A dancer, clad in scarf and holding two wands dances in celebration within an oval wreath. The wreath symbolizes completion. The circle is closed. The Fool’s journey has reached its conclusion.

The two wands depict the dual nature of the person appearing within the circle. While the person appears as a woman, some say it may be, in fact, a hermaphrodite, since the scarf hides the truth. Thus the duality of his/her representation is even further expressed.

In the four corners of the card appear the four “living creatures” as described in the Book of Ezekiel: a man, a bull, a lion and an eagle. Some say these faces represent the four elements, other interpretations suggest they show the foundation of the material world, and perhaps the four seasons. Of course, the number four is significant. The fourth Tarot card is the Emperor, representing human power and authority.

The World card represents an end in a cycle of life, a pause before beginning the next major cycle. Thus the Fool’s tourney may only appear to be completed. Now it is time for him to plan to begin all over. As the Hindu faithful believe, their pilgrimage route is to cross the River Ganges, but once they reach the other side, they discover that they are still right where they started.

It is the card of dynamic balance. The dancer within the circle is the center of all. The Fool has now achieved two levels of consciousness and arrived at a new beginning, or rebirth, thus the significance of the number of the card, 21.

The number one represents The Magician, the practitioner of great wisdom. The number two is that of the High Priestess, the guardian of secrets. Her number offers Key 11, the Justice Card, and links also to Key 20, which is Judgment.

The numbers added comprise three, the number of the Empress Card. And she represents the fertile creator and nurturer of life. Her crown contains 12 stars, this number pointing to the twelfth card, the Hanged Man; the dying god. The story is told that the son of the Empress dies at the Autumn Equinox and is reborn with the Winter Solstice.

Reverse the numbers that comprise the three and we have the Key 21, The World. Thus through death, rebirth and reproduction the world is renewed.

 

 

 

The Mind of James Donahue