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All Around The World: The End and Also the Beginning

One of the most memorable symbols of the classic World tarot card for novice and experienced readers alike, is that of the wreath (whose design mimics that of an ouroborus) surrounding a dancer. Where does the wreath end and where does it begin? This is the quintessential question posed by the World card, which lies both at the end of the Major Arcana, but also at the beginning, before the never ending journey starts back over again with the Fool. The World represents an enlightening culmination.

At its core, the World symbolizes a unifying sense of cosmic wholeness, fulfillment, and integration. The central figure is often depicted as a stylized image of the earth or the classical image of the “Cosmic Dancer.” In each of the four corners of the traditional card, sits one of the fixed signs of the zodiac—a lion (Leo; fixed fire), a bull (Taurus; fixed earth), an angel (Aquarius; fixed air), and an eagle (somehow represents Scorpio; fixed water)–to represent the four elements coming into harmonious balance. 

In the Deviant Moon version of the World card, the laurel wreath surrounding the dancer is replaced by an overt ouroborus symbol—a snake(symbol of transformation) eating itself, symbolizing cycles of transformation and change being ongoing and eternal. Completion of one cycle does not mean your journey is at its end, just entering its next chapter. There is also a duality in the background imagery of the card: water and earth, a fixed town landscape and a boat at sea; yet the dichotomy looks and feels more integrated than discordant. The “dancer” exists on the liminal space, dancing on the precipice between the realms—is she going to stay where she is? Or get on the boat and go towards another adventure? Or is she perhaps on the boat and about to decide if she’s going to drop anchor and explore the city? 

The World as it appears in tarot readings signals change, growth, and awakening in a very positive way (as opposed to the more abrupt changes sometimes indicated by the Death and Tower cards earlier in the arcana). The World signifies answering the “calling” of the previous Judgment card and therein heralding rebirth and profound renewal for the querent. The World signals the end of a long struggle or quest, with all difficulties surmounted and wonderful new beginnings rising like the dawn from the ashes of the past. The card reflects that the querent has undergone a period of initiation that has changed them. They have fulfilled an important cycle, challenge, or life lesson. A stage of life has come full circle, and the querent is preparing to start a new chapter, with the card serving as a reminder that life is a continuing cycle of initiation, integration, and wholeness.  In less abstract terms, the card can also signify travel, moving, or a new physical journey on the horizon as well as the fulfillment of long-held goals.

*The World Card correspondences:


💫 Color: Green

💫Planet/Celestial Body: Earth

💫Stone: Lapis Lazuli

The World Tarot Card

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