Among the different combinations of the number 21 likely to agree with this card, the arrangement 20 + 1 and not 7 x 3 is required, because the Tarot, representing the evolution of Man, must take its departure from the second set of ten, as it did from the first set of ten.
3 x 7 = 21, which has been adopted in certain interpretations of the Tarot, may only be accepted by submitting to some very secondary points of view because this combination represents the cycles of successive actions which would tend to be repeated by ternary series and would no more conform to the Major Arcarum of the Tarot, as it is limited to 22 cards.
20 + 1 = 21 represents, by 20, a passivity rich with an activity; by 1, clearly marked by the central figure whose raised leg indicates activity, and the androgynous figure suggests the accord between the passivity of the 20 and this activity.
General and Abstract Meaning
This card signifies THE PSYCHIC AND SPIRITUAL ILLUMINATION IN A HARMONY MANIFESTED BY THE CLEARLY VISIBLE EQUILIBRIUM IN THE ARRANGEMENT OF THE ELEMENTS DEPICTED IN THIS CARD.
It symbolizes the perfection of Man in the universal, its triumph over matter, its power over nature.
It comes after the Judgement, which prepared for Man the means for arriving at the apogee of his evolution by forcing him to hear the call of the divine and to make a fair return on himself after each incarnation in matter. In a more general sense, it also symbolizes the perfect equilibrium of the worlds.
The central figure is androgynous: the two sexes reunited in one, without being able to characterize either one of them dominates. They signify, however, that the two poles are equal, while maintaining their own superiority and independence of their wills. The sex of this figure is veiled because it reaches its apogee, not to be reincarnated again, and thus nor to procreate any more, either. This is indicated by a fine scarf thrown slightly over it and not by a loincloth which would denote the desire to conceal.
Its left leg is bent back to indicate that the figure is active and not immobile. The figure’s right leg, positioned on a support relying on both branches of the garland and not on their intersection, shows that it is walking on a support based on it and coming from an intelligent manifestation, since it is yellow. The figure’s left hand is holding a baton representing power over nature, and in the right hand the figure holds between two fingers, an oval container symbolizing a philter. This philter is the creator of illusion in all planes of nature, because Man is able to have the illusion of love as much as of spirituality. The philter stands in opposition to the baton, in the sense that illusion created by Man is able to give him a momentary feeling of royalty, and everywhere, as much as in the world of illusions as in the real, spiritual domain, Man possesses a royalty which he possesses from his divine essence.
The garland surrounding the figure represents the double influence of the universal on Man and Man on the universal. In the first case, it signifies the currents of cosmic fluids which maintain it, and in the second case, it manifests the perfect aura achieved by man on the three planes: red (evolved matter), yellow (divine intelligence), blue (spiritual mystic). The blue is at the bottom to indicate that Man, delivered from the slavery of the flesh, is now entirely in spirituality, and the red, placed between the yellow and blue, shows that matter takes its place between the spiritual and divine intelligence. The red lines at the top and bottom fuse these two poles together.
The four figures manifest the quartet of superior forces, stabilized and balanced in matter. This equilibrium comes from their placement in the four corners, with the indication that Man has achieved full mastery over his internal forces.
The Eagle represents wisdom from Above, which is to say, the spiritual wisdom hovering over all creation. Its penetration into the depths of matter is symbolized by the red halo, and its action on all planes, planes which are interposed, by its body made of yellow feathers and its wings of blue feathers. The height on which it is perched, represented by a cloud, consists of something delicate and not concrete, as a spirituality created by Man and shown in white.
The Being at the top on the left has a human form to recall its connections with humanity. Its red wings signify that Man is not able to reach this state of supreme perfection without having passed through Matter and emerged from it. His blue arms symbolize actions performed entirely in the domain of high spirituality. On the front of his blue robe, white on one side and ribbed on the other, represent therefore the spiritual acts of Man, some obvious, some obscure, unknown to him, although their significance may be far-reaching.
The Bull, flesh-colored, is a symbol of the generative power of the physical plane; it has no halo since, being essentially a being of matter, it is brute regenerative force with no discernment. Its wings signify that its symbolic power extends to all forms of life and to all worlds.
The Lion with its yellow color symbolizes the intelligent force of the universewhich presides over this universal fertilization and which, in the same way as the flesh-colored Bull, is not the passionate human matter represented by the red dolor of the other Cards, but the matter of the worlds, a concretization of the divine thought. Its halo, flesh colored, shows that this intelligent force radiates in the plane of intelligence.
Orientation of the Figures
All are facing the viewer except for the eagle, which is presented in profile to the right with its head to the left, implying a forceful, direction action, but also using reflection to find inspiration before taking flight.
Specific and Concrete Meaning
This card has as its name “THE WORLD” because, being found as it is at the end of the Major Arcana, it harmoniously makes concrete the efforts of the evolution indicated by the preceding cards.
Meanings as They Relate to the Three Planes
In a spread, this card signifies the feminine element, it is not able to be interpreted as nor adapted to the masculine. It is a very individual card: if the querent is a man, it represents his thoughts, but not his individuality; if the querent is a woman, it represents her personality more than her thoughts.
MENTAL. Great power on this plane. Tendency towards perfection. Mental and psychic mastery.
ANIMISTIC. It conserves its power on this plane and signifies the elevation of the spirit, the feeling of altruistic love, that is to say, neither egotistical nor sensual (as the being depicted on the card is androgynous). Love of humanity. Tendency towards perfection. Among artists, inspiration.
PHYSICAL. It loses, on this plane for which it is scarcely adapted, a great deal of its power. Acquisition of riches. Sound and expanding business relationships. Success and worldliness. Good health.
INVERTED. Pitfalls, obstructions, lack of success. The negation of a triumph, of feelings. Sacrifice of love.
In sum, in its elementary sense, “THE WORLD” represents Man who maintains his balance while finding support on the cosmic principles: Wisdom and Spirituality, generative power and the Guiding power, and someone who exercises his power over nature in harmony with universal laws.