Keywords for The World
This card is, in many ways, the fulfillment of all those which came before it. Of all the cards, it bears the most striking resemblance to Key 10, The Wheel of Fortune. We see the same four figures in each of the corners as we once encountered there: the man (Aquarius), the bull (Taurus), the Eagle (Scorpio), and the Lion (Leo).
However, there is one important difference: in the Wheel of Fortune, each of the four had wings, as if to tell us there was something angelic or highly ethereal about them. Each also held an open book in front of them, which they gazed at intently, as if trying to understand the secret mysteries of the universe.
Here, the figures here in the World possess neither wings nor books. This is likely meant to indicate the different level of being emphasized in each of these two cards.
The Wheel of Fortune was in many ways a card of abstractions. It spoke of abstract visions of the spiritual order underlying all things.
The World, however, deals not with abstractions, but within the concrete material reality. It is the world of physical form and manifestation. It is within the sphere of Saturn, contained by the limits of physical reality.
In the center of the card, we see the World Dancer in motion. This dancer is androgynous, even hermaphroditic, as they express both their feminine and masculine elements. This shows us that they are completely whole and fully balanced and integrated.
The oval shaped wreath which encloses the dancer is bound by two red bands in the form of an “x” mark at the top and bottom. Although it may be difficult to discern from our vantage point, these bands are actually in the form of figure 8’s, or symbols of infinity.
Interpretation of the World in a Reading
When the World comes up in a tarot reading, it often indicates that we have arrived at our intended destination. We may find ourselves reaching an important goal, achieving success, or enjoying the satisfaction of hard work paying off.
This card speaks to the realization of our visions, our hopes, and our ideals in the outer world. What was once only an ephemeral dream has now, through hard work and determination, become manifest in the material.
In addition to the themes of fulfillment and completion, the World also carries with it significations that point to balance, harmony and completion. It can speak to an inner sense of wholeness, one where each aspect of our selves is well-balanced and harmoniously interrelated.
On a deeper level, the World card can also refer to the experience of spiritual union, of the unification of the personal, individual self with the universal Self. This has been known to some as enlightenment, others as nirvana, and yet others as cosmic consciousness.
Yet despite the differences in terms, all of these names refer to the same experience of unification of one’s unique self identity with the greater collective unconscious, of the union of our personal awareness with the mind of God.