The weight of the world is a trifle, if we all put our two fingers under it and try to lift together.
Vera Nazarian, Nebula award-winning author
This week, as many of our brothers and sisters are celebrating the “Days of Awe” that conclude with the most holy day of the Jewish year, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, it seems no coincidence that we welcome The World.
The World is, arguably, the most important card of the Tarot, since it is the fruition of the Fool’s Journey through the Major Arcana.
It is the triumphant culmination of all that has gone before; the successful completion of the tests and lessons of life. The World is the ending of a hugely important cycle.
Here we see the laurel wreath of victory, in an eternal circle, ancient symbol of the Divine Feminine. It is wrapped at the top and bottom with root-chakra-red sashes tied in the form of the cosmic lemniscate — the infinity symbol that shows up in so many pivotal cards.
Some interpret the four figures in the corners as the fixed signs of the zodiac, with the human head representing Aquarius, the lion being Leo, the ox representing Taurus, and the eagle as Scorpio.
They are also the symbols of the four writers of the Christian gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
In addition, they are referenced in the Book of Revelation, where the throne of God is described: “And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.”
Thus, Tarot scholar and deck creator, Robert Place notes that the “symbols of the four Evangelists [of the Christian gospels] in the corners indicate we are viewing God’s throne, situated in the center of the fourfold world.
“The wreath represents the sensual world,” he writes. “In the sacred center, the purified soul is at one with the World Soul. She dances on God’s throne.”
The dancer of The World is unbound, yet in the same pose as The Hanged Man, the number 12, now turned right side up, and of switched (or perhaps combined) gender.
Note that the Hanged Man’s hands are hidden behind his back. The World reveals what has been hidden — not one, but two wands.
She is male and female; she is art combined with magic. The World is simultaneously the potential, the physical manifestation, and the completion of all possibilities.
The World and the Monomyth
The great psychologist, Carl Jung, suggested that there are archetypes that appear in all myths and dreams. They are universal characteristics that are present in the collective unconscious.
From that premise, the late professor, author, lecturer, and acclaimed mythologist, Joseph Campbell, added that there is one heroic myth that is embedded in the stories of every culture, in every time of history.
In other words, these stories are all basically the same story told in infinitely different ways.
All mythic narratives, regardless of identity or culture, are variations of a single great story. This theory is based on the observation that a pattern exists between all great myths.
Campbell’s authoritative writing on the Monomyth is his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949). This is the central pattern of the Monomyth that people most often refer to as the Hero’s Journey. This follows the the journey of a hero from receiving the overarching phases of departure, initiation, and return.
from “What Is the Hero’s Journey?” article on the Randall-Reilly website
Others have added variations and their own point of view to Campbell’s works. For instance, professor emeritus of English and comparative literature at the University of Connecticut, David Leeming, elaborates on the components of the monomyth’s three phases:
- Miraculous conception and birth
- Initiation of the hero-child
- Withdrawal from family or community for meditation and preparation
- Trial and quest
- Descent into the underworld
- Resurrection and rebirth
- Ascension, apotheosis, and atonement
Note how this resonates with the timing of this most Holy Week in Judaism, which ends with the Day of Atonement.
And if this sounds a little like the chronology of the Major Arcana, you are right. The progression of cards from The Fool to The World has often been described this way, and mirrors the monomyth with great clarity.
Thus, with our card this week, we have reached the resolution and completion of a heroic journey, where all conflict, challenge, and even the fear of shadow and death have been redeemed.
The Climax and Resolution
The World indicates there is a great finale that is occurring, the ending of a huge cycle, perhaps even an era. With that ending comes the enormous recognition of why things had to be as they were.
Here is the Creatrix, The Source, the Foundation from which we have come, to which we shall return and of which we have always been a part. This is the cosmic dance and the Dancer.
This is Shiva/Pavarti – the life force celebrating itself in perfect balance and acceptance; nothing less than the Alpha and Omega of All. This is a rare and blessed opportunity to comprehend and then release the complexity or ambiguity that has surrounded an important issue. Enlightenment is at hand.
Yes, The World almost certainly will carry huge implications this week on matters of global importance.
We may well see some long, arduous situation come to its conclusion. It may be for better or for worse, but something is definitely over, and the truth is revealed.
We can only pray that the threats of war between North Korea and the United States de-escalate and are not acted upon. For, whether the men with their hands on the triggers care or not, any such war puts our entire planet in mortal danger.
Our card reminds us that we live in a global village. We are all intimately interconnected neighbors, no matter the geographical distance. No conflict, nor people, are truly “foreign” anymore. The fruits of war or the blessings of peace ultimately are laid at each and every doorstep.
The World is in our care and we are not separate from Her. When we work together on her behalf, we can lift Her up.
Look about you and see what has reached its realization. Before you start the Next Big Thing, celebrate what has been achieved.
What is ending? What evolutionary chapter now closes? What soul success is now realized?
This is your moment of Truth. Reveal without shame, but wide-open love, exactly who you are.
In perfect love and perfect trust, we are the living proof that The World is whole, and never broken.