The Tarot World card meaning in a nutshell:
Success in anything worldly,
but not for free.
The World is a place of infinite opportunity, there for the grabbing. You can conquer it and you can lose it. The Tarot World card opens this vast resource, but who has the embrace wide enough to encompass it?
Everything has a price. Jesus warned about gaining the whole world and losing one's soul in the process. The Tarot World card repeats the warning by having the four beasts of the Apocalypse in the corners: a lion, a calf, a man, and an eagle. They are also the symbols of the four Evangelists Mark, Luke, Matthew, and John.
So, if you strive for the world as your oyster, heed the warnings. You can get anything at a cost, but if you crave everything - that costs a lot. Success takes its toll.
Many people still don't hesitate, but go for it, happily forgetting about the price until they're handed the bill. Then they realize that they should have hesitated and eaten moderately from the buffet. Although you may at times be offered the world, curb your enthusiasm and ask yourself how much of it you really need.
If just handled calmly and with some restraint, the opportunity that the World Tarot card promises is splendid. Success in whatever worldly matter is at hand. When the World card relates to an event, it opens up plenty of possibilities beyond your initial expectation. But be careful with your choices. If the World card relates to a person, it's someone who can offer success on a silver platter - but watch out for the price tag. There is one, although it might not be evident at first. If the deal is too good to be true it's probably not.
So, the World Tarot card, although overwhelmingly generous, propagates moderation, as does the very archetype of that virtue, the card of Temperance. When you can get everything in abundance, beware.
A. E. Waite's Texts
About the Tarot World Card
21. The World, the Universe, or Time. The four living creatures of the Apocalypse and Ezekiel's vision, attributed to the evangelists in Christian symbolism, are grouped about an elliptic garland, as if it were a chain of flowers intended to symbolize all sensible things; within this garland there is the figure of a woman, whom the wind has girt about the loins with a light scarf, and this is all her vesture. She 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, of joy attained in the body, of the soul's intoxication in the earthly paradise, but still guarded by the Divine Watchers, as if by the powers and the graces of the Holy Name, Tetragammaton, JVHV - those four ineffable letters which are sometimes attributed to the mystical beasts. Eliphas Levi calls the garland a crown, and reports that the figure represents Truth. Dr. Papus connects it with the Absolute and the realization of the Great Work; for yet others it is 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, and this is the kind of chain which Eliphas Levi says is less easily broken than a chain of iron. Perhaps by antithesis, but for the same reason, the iron crown of Peter may he more lightly on the heads of sovereign pontiffs than the crown of gold on kings.
The Inner Symbolism of the Tarot World Card
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.
Divinatory Meaning of the Tarot World Card
Assured success, recompense, voyage, route, emigration, flight, change of place. Reversed: Inertia, fixity, stagnation, permanence.
The Tarot Major Arcana
- The Magician
- The High Priestess
- The Empress
- The Emperor
- The Hierophant
- The Lovers
- The Chariot
- The Hermit
- Wheel of Fortune
- The Hanged Man
- The Devil
- The Tower
- The Star
- The Moon
- The Sun
- The World
- The Fool
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