|Barbara G. Walker|
Most cards for the World traditionally show a woman in the center of a wreath. The woman is Gaia, the archetypal Earth Mother. She is usually nude or draped in a robe to show a return to the natural state, the purity of the womb (which is associated with the Earth; think of Mother Earth and the Shamanic ritual of burial that ends with symbolic rebirth). The wands she holds indicate mastery, strength, and energy--she is a balance of male and female. The position of her legs form a backward four, a symbol of magical power.
Flanking her are a lion, a bull, an eagle, and a pixie-like creature. Traditionally, these stood for the four Gospel writers, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and also to the beasts referred to in Revelation. The pixie was a man. Now, they can still stand for those things, indicating community with God and a higher purpose. However, they can also stand for the four elements. The lion, the symbol for Leo, is fire; the bull is Taurus, earth; the man is Aquarius, air--which makes the pixie a sylph; and the Eagle is Scorpio, water. This again illustrates the balance the questioner has achieved; they are at home in all four elements and the qualities associated with each. Thus, the World card is a card of wisdom, mastery, and balance.
|Robin Wood's World.|
Robin Wood's tarot deck shows the woman draped in a white sheet. It is white for purity, and she is draped in it to show she has achieved great honor. Her wreath is made of fresh flowers and fruit, for she is fruitful and accomplished and surrounded by beauty. Ribbons form the infinity symbol at the top and bottom. The four elements are represented in the four corners, again indicating balance and mastery of the qualities of those energies, and she's holding two wands in a blessing. Stars sparkle behind her in a blue sky--her thoughts are clear, she has foresight and knowledge, and she is a "star."
|Kris Waldherr's Gaia|
Kris Waldherr's goddess for the World is, of course, Gaia, the ancient Greek personification of the Earth. The sun and the moon are in position above the Earth, showing, again, a balance of masculine and feminine energy. At the top of the card is a winter scene, and at the bottom a spring scene. This shows a knowledge of and respect for the Earth's cycles, which is apropos to The World being an end of the cycle of the Major Arcana, a cycle began by The Fool.
The two women supporting the Earth are symbolic, I believe, of both Western and Eastern philosophies, and the harmonious marriage of these ideas.
Julian De Burgh and Mary Guinan's Celtic deck is reminiscent of the stunning Book of Kells. It, like the others, shows the mastery of the four elements and their qualities. The Cup is Water, the Pentacle is Earth, the Sword is Air, and the Wand is Fire. The two figures in the center, if you look closely, are a man and a woman bound together in an intricate knot. Their legs are crossed, and the bottoms of their feet are touching, forming the shape of a heart. They are whole and fulfilled.
If The World shows up in a reading, it is very auspicious and joyous. It may indicate that the questioner's entire life is going well, or that at least one aspect of the person's life is booming--pay attention to the question and any other cards. Reversed, The World may portend postponement of this fulfillment, mastery, and joy. There may be more steps needed in the cycle before it reaches the completion of The World.