Tuesday, October 5, 2010
A Journey through My Tarot Decks: The World
The cards in this deck are titled in French. Le Monde, of course, means The World.
In Tarot Cards for Fun and Fortune Telling (illustrated guide to the spreading and interpretation of the popular 78-card Tarot 1JJ deck of Muller & Cie, Switzerland) (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.), Stuart Kaplan describes The World card as follows: "A nude female figure is encircled within a wreath of colorful leaves and buds. She represents nature and the divine presence therein. In her hands she clasps a flowing veil or cloth. Above her an eagle spreads its wings symbolizing attainment. Two other eagles support the wreath. Below the female figure are a lion and a bull, guardians of the truth. All that has taken place before culminates now in ultimate completion."
This design is similar in some ways to the Rider-Waite-Smith version of The World and different in others. Both cards place a figure in the center, along with a bull and lion in the lower corners of the card. The RWS version has an eagle in the upper right corner and a human being in the upper left corner.
In his book The Tarot: History, Symbolism, and Divination (the Penguin Group), Robert Place tells us that this arrangement (also seen in a number of other decks) is called a quincunx –"four figures representing the fourfold world placed one to each corner and a fifth sacred figure placed in the center."
The 1JJ Swiss version departs from this tradition, with its three eagles at the top of the card. Offhand, I do not have an explanation for this.
The Order of the Golden Dawn associates The World with "Earth and Saturn" and gives the following meanings: "The matter itself. Synthesis, world, kingdom. Usually denotes actual subject of question, and therefore depends entirely on accompanying cards."
In The Only Astrology Book You‛ll Ever Need (Scarborough House), Joanna Martine Woolfolk tells us that Saturn (which rules Capricorn, an Earth sign) is the planet of "discipline, responsibility, restriction, and limitation."
In her book Tarot Life Planner (Octopus Publishing Group Ltd.), Lady Lorelei subtitles the World card "the integration of the journey." She notes that when The World appears in a spread, it brings a sense of completeness and stability in a situation or person. This card "can be used to help you bring all the pieces of your life together." However, if things seem to be coming together too fast, we may need to banish the energies of The World.
Kaplan provides a large number of Divinatory Meanings for The World in Tarot Cards for Fun and Fortune Telling. These include "attainment, ultimate change, completion, perfection, success, admiration of others, culmination, conclusion, triumph in undertakings – the final goal to which all other cards have led." Reversed, The World suggests "imperfection, quitting in the middle, failure to finish what one starts, refusal to recognize the meanings revealed in the other cards, lack of vision."
About the deck: Stuart Kaplan writes that the 1JJ deck "is believed to follow closely the original ancient packs." According to Lee A. Bursten (in a review accessed at http://www.tarotpassages.com/bursten16.htm), "it was first published in 1831 by a predecessor firm of AGMuller and has been somewhat modified over the years." Bursten also tells us that "the two J’s in the title refer to Jupiter and Junon, the Roman equivalents for the Greek Zeus and Hera, who in this deck were substituted for the Pope and Popess so as not to offend the Catholic Church."