The World (Tarot card)

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The World (XXI)

The World (XXI) is a trump or Major Arcana card in the tarot deck. It is usually the final card of the Major Arcana or tarot trump sequence. In the tarot family of card games, this card is usually worth five points.

Description[edit]

Christ in Majesty is surrounded by the animal emblems representing the four evangelists in a German manuscript.

A naked woman hovers or dances above the Earth holding a staff in each hand, surrounded by a green wreath, being watched by various creatures. In older decks, these are usually a human face or head, a lion, an ox, and an eagle, the symbols of the four Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Or astrologically speaking, the human head represent Aquarius, the lion represents Leo, the ox represents Taurus and the eagle Scorpio. (these four signs are the fixed signs in terms of astrology - which can allude to the four corners of the earth, the four elements, etc.) It also holds reference to the vision of Ezekiel of the "throne" or "chariot" of God in the Old Testament.[1] The four figures in the corners of the card are also referenced in the Book of Revelation, 4:7, 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."[2]

Later decks avoid such overt Hebrew symbolism, or ignore it altogether, choosing to explain these observers as representatives of the natural world, or the kingdom of beasts. According to astrological tradition, the Lion is Leo, a fire sign; the Bull or calf is Taurus, an earth sign; the Man is Aquarius, an air sign; and the Eagle is Scorpio, a water sign.[3] These signs also represent the classical four elements.

In some decks the wreath is an ouroborous biting its own tail. In the Thoth Tarot designed by Aleister Crowley, this card is called "The Universe."

Interpretation[edit]

The World represents an ending to a cycle of life, a pause in life before the next big cycle beginning with the fool.[4] The figure is at once male and female, above and below, suspended between the heavens and the earth. It is completeness. It is also said to represent cosmic consciousness; the potential of perfect union with the One Power of the universe.[5] It tells us full happiness is also to give back to the world, sharing what we have learned or gained.

According to Robert M. Place in his book The Tarot,[6] the four beasts on the World card represent the fourfold structure of the physical world, which frames the sacred center of the world, a place where the divine can manifest. Sophia, meaning Prudence or Wisdom (the dancing woman in the center), is spirit or the sacred center, the fifth element. It is the fourth of the Cardinal virtues in the Tarot.[6] The lady in the center is thus a symbol of the goal of mystical seekers. In some older decks, this central figure is Christ, in others it is Hermes. Whenever it comes up, this card represents what is truly desired.[7]

Divination usage[edit]

In the early twentieth century, A. E. Waite was a key figure in the development of modern tarot interpretations.[8] However, not all interpretations follow his beliefs. Tarot decks used for divination are interpreted according to personal experience and standards.

Some frequent keywords used by tarot readers include:

  • Fulfillment — Accomplishment — Success — Integration
  • Involvement — Prospering — Satisfaction — Repleteness
  • Contentment — Good feelings — Wholeness

Popular culture[edit]

  • The World serves as the final boss in the video game The House of the Dead 4 and appears as an insect-like humanoid with the power of cryokinesis. As it is attacked its body warms and adapts to more advanced forms. All bosses in The House of The Dead games 1-4 are named after cards from the Major Arcana.
  • The main antagonist of the first and third series of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Dio Brando, is the wielder of The World, a powerful Stand that enables him to stop time. It was named after this tarot card.
  • In the video game Persona 4, The World is a standalone arcana that isn't represented by any Social Links and only has the one Persona, Izanagi-no-Okami, the game's ultimate Persona. In Persona 3 the protagonist uses the universe arcana in the fight against the final boss.
  • In the SNES video game Ogre Battle: The March of the Black Queen, the World Tarot card depicts a woman wearing a white robe, with the heads of the four creatures (human, eagle, calf, lion) right behind and beside her. On drawing the card after liberation of one of the towns, it makes all allied units be affected by drawn Tarot cards for the rest of the stage, and also makes allied characters be immune to magic when used in battle.[9]
  • In the popular Indie Game The Binding of Isaac, all of the Major Arcana tarot cards can be found and used during gameplay. The World, when used, will reveal the entire map and location of all special rooms for the current level.
  • This card represents the character Etia Visconti in the anime series Gen'ei o Kakeru Taiyō.
  • In the Adventure Time episode "The Suitor", the character Peppermint Butler summons a demon. For the ritual, he gathers around him a lion, an ox, an angel and an eagle - himself filling the role of the person in the middle of the card.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ezekiel 1:10.
  2. ^ Revelation 4:7.
  3. ^ DeVore 1947, 355.
  4. ^ Joan Bunning, The Fool's Journey; last sentence of article.
  5. ^ Case, p. 208.
  6. ^ a b Place 2005, 165-166.
  7. ^ Place 2005, 212.
  8. ^ Wood 1998.
  9. ^ Ogre Battle - Tarot Cards

Bibliography[edit]

  • Case, Paul Foster (1947). The Tarot. Builders of the Adytum. 
  • DeVore, Nicholas (1947). Encyclopedia of Astrology. Philosophical Library. 
  • Place, Robert M. (2005). The Tarot: History, Symbolism and Divination. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin. ISBN 1-58542-349-1. 
  • Waite, Arthur (1911). The Pictorial Key to the Tarot. London: W. Rider. 
  • Wood, Juliette (1998). "The Celtic Tarot and the Secret Tradition: A Study in Modern Legend Making". Folklore 109: 15–24. 

External links[edit]

  • The World -"fulfillment and completeness"- how to interpret this card