Three of Swords

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Synthetic Meaning

            The 3 indicates, by 2 + 1, the disjunction of two forces neutralized by the intervention of the dynamism of a different nature. The Three of Swords underscores this meaning by having a third sword with an exact, concrete form, flesh-colored, cross through the ellipse formed by the two stylized swords, and from which two yellow laurel branches emerge, thus indicating the will for overcoming inertia and for setting free pent-up forces, through action derived from the vitality of the physical world, and whose decisions and effects generate mental gains.

Analytic Meaning

            The successive cards of the suit of Swords are going to depict an action which is moving progressively towards a fullness. Already, as a result of the Two of Swords, the Three of Swords enters directly into activity through its central, concrete sword, disjoining the two stylized swords and creating a separation. This disjunction activates the polarity of the swords in semi-circle which had only been potential.

            The blade and the pommel of the central sword, flesh-colored, indicate its firmness in the physical world; its red hilt indicates that the state which it represents is still only barely material. The yellow hilt guard accentuates this idea by showing that this card must remain in a half-physical plane, there is a mental break between the instinctive life, designated by the red color, and the physical life, represented by the flesh color.

            The lotus-flower shape of the pommel, ending with a little ball, indicates that the will to succeed must find its basis in wisdom and that it will act in the physical world.

            The yellow laurel leaves crossing under the central sword show that achievement must be crowned by success, they are a physical support for activity; the affirmation of the noble purpose of this symbolized by the two white stems, a symbol of purity and showing honor to the active principle.

            The two swords in a half-circle have the same significance as in the Two of Swords; only the intervention of the yellow and red bars, above and below[1], differentiates them, as is the case with all the cards in the suite of Swords bearing a concrete sword, without making any changes to the meaning of the card.

            The same meaning applies equally to the four outer flowers, but with more force, as they increase with each number of the card.

Meanings As They Relate To The Three Planes

            MENTAL. Decision, cutting through one’s hesitations.

            ANIMISTIC. Emanation, enlightenment about one’s feelings, the clear perception of things.

            PHYSICAL. Support, a supply of energy. Clear and skillful progress in one’s affairs. Very good health.

            INVERTED. This card is interpreted as inverted when the point of the sword is directed downward. Directed upward, it indicates a conformation for every questioning of an orientation and assures that it is a good one because the sword point, directed upward, is using and receiving the currents.

            Downward, it implies a realization, it confirms that the things will go well, because thus directed, it activates matter.

            This card is never negative, except when the question has to do with some sickness, because the point aimed downwards, separating matter with effort, identifies the obstacle, the thing resisting, and thus a delay to healing.

*

            In its Elementary Sense, the Three of Swords represents a working of the active consciousness making determinations about specific actions.

[1]  Three, Five, Seven, Nine, because of the active power of the odd numbers; but Two, Four, and Six, due to the passivity of the even numbers.

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Two of Swords

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Synthetic Meaning

            In conformity with the significance of the number 2 which represents a balanced stability containing a potential gestation, the Two of Swords manifested, on the one hand, by the color black and the schematic shape of the swords as well as by their arrangement quaternaries, the complete and subtle work of the subconscious preparing an act of will, the primal element of all mental activity; on the other hand, the leafy diamond with three colors enclosed by the swords illustrates the possibilities of gestation.

Analytic Meaning

            By itself, the 2 is composed of two forces which, not manifesting by virtue of their composition, would leave the 2 inert, if they were not forced to develop, by virtue of the activity which is the province of the Sword.

            As a result of this activity, each unit of the 2 (the one passive, the other active) is reflected in the other, which is to say, that the active is charged with the passive and vice-versa.

            In concrete terms, one may say that the passive sword resists and the active sword penetrates; this results in a quaternary.

            The assets and liabilities alone are exteriorized and are indicated by the two half-circles crisscrossing the Two of Swords, while the second duality, due to the reflection, remaining internal, is represented by the two swords whose points are encased in sheathes.

            Generally, the quaternary represents an equilibrium in the deck of the material elements, but that which results fro the swords, that is, from primal forces, is a quaternary of principles, whereas the quaternary formed by the central blossoming  represents the balance of evolutionary forces embryonic in the number 2.

            This evolution is brought about by the fact that this quaternary doubles itself for form an octonary, that is, a higher equilibrium. All this shows that the potential gestation of the number 2 will evolve through the activities of the Sword towards the two equilibriums included among the 10 first numbers, and which are the 4 and the 8.

            The swords are, in general, represented in a schematic[2] manner to symbolize the characteristics and the factors of mental activity and not to underscore their concrete action. The currents symbolized by this design, by crossing each other constitute a softening within the spiritual and the material, within the I and the Not-I.

            This form is also meant to specify that their number does not signify a set of swords, as if on a panoply together; even less does the Two of Swords represent swords in a duel, but rather diverse impulses, different origins, which constitute an act of will.

            The black color with which they are drawn is the color of the Invisible, and this is to show that the act of will, which precedes mental action, bears within it something secret because it is self-activating. Its origins are not within our reach, we see their manifestation, but we are unaware of the profound forces behind them.

            The swords come from and end at the four corners of the card to indicate the universality of the currents entering into mental activity, and their ends are large to show the power and the mobility of the potential of the forces from which they emanate.

            The schematic design is also meant to indicate that all this aforementioned work for the formation of mental activity passes through the subconscious where it cannot yet have taken the exact forms which it will adopt in its ultimate manifestation.  

            The black and enlarged extremities of the swords are the guards representing defense and containment, through material actions or through intelligence, depending on whether they are red or yellow.

            The red and yellow bars are the forces which constitute the boundaries and the necessity of imposing limits in order to curb and regulate the mélange of currents created by the swords coming into contact.

            The internal functioning of the swords, blue at top and bottom, indicates that it is of a psychic order; the color yellow of the perpendicular sections which, thereby, correspond to an interior job, introspective and assimilative, is of a mental order.

            The figure between the swords, has a central white core from which emanates a yellow and red cross encased in another blue cross. The double bloom of its leaves in the four directions and the meeting of their points in the form of a diamond or an oval represents a synthesis of evolutionary forms which take mental action in the course of its development in the following cards. The seven black stripes on each leaf indicate that this activity must have as its purpose a successful realization.

            The four flowers on the exterior represent the connections of this card with the four planes or the four states, and they emerge as seeds ready to sprout. If you examine the process of their formation, you will note that they are composed of a corolla of 5 blue petals and a red bud enclosed in a yellow chalice.

            As the number 5 indicates a transition, the 5 petals define a radiance onto a plane different from that of the Two of Swords. This transition gives rise to a birth on the physical plane, as is indicated by the red color of the bud, protected by an intelligent activity.

Meanings As They Relate To The Three Planes

MENTAL. Static balance. The absence of activity.

            ANIMISTIC. Wealth of potential feelings.

            PHYSICAL. consumption without efficacy, restraint, increased weight.  Plethoric condition, slowed circulation.

            INVERTED. This card, being symmetrical, cannot be read as a reversal.

*

            In its Elementary Sense, the Two of Swords represents the halting of a concrete action in view of further enrichment intended to bring this action to fruition.  

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Ace of Swords

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Synthetic Meaning

            The Sword signifies Power, the Will.

            Conforming to the analogous meaning of unity, the Ace of Swords synthesizes the significance of the nine Sword cards of which it is the origin.

            The mighty blue sword, held upright and with its point lost in the crown, signifies the spiritual, evolutionary impetus of Man towards that The Above, expressing also that which is best in it, and affirming it with a word or an action whose manifestation is indicated by the red flower surmounting the sword’s point.

            The result of this state is reveled to Man by the flourish enveloping the point of the sword, that is, by the crown on the mental plane, and by the palm branch, a symbol of sacrifice, on the psychic plane, and by the oak leaf, a symbol of triumphant energy, on the physical plane.

Analytic Meaning

            The Sword, which signifies a projection, has been selected to make a mental act concrete. Its shape, in a straight line, suggests the idea of a progression which thought extends with its point to infinity. The lightning, thrown forth from the steel of the sword when we wield it, symbolizes the sudden inspiration which finds a way, assisted by the point which draws on spiritual currents.

            It is a right hand which holds the sword, the right signifying will and command. The wrist is turned to the left (with a meaning opposite to that of the hand which holds the Ace of Batons); activity, indicated by the Sword, being complex and having to assume a passive stance, that is to say, of matter, in order to prepare itself.  As active intelligence is not able to become manifest without an intermediary, showing the back of the hand indicates that the interior must remain hidden for the same reason: the manifestation of force, symbolized by the Sword, only becomes visible in its external manifestation, and its action must be indirect and reigned in by passivity.

            The Ace of Swords, formed by two distinct planes, exhibits a spiritual significance in its upper part and a material significance in its lower part.

            Held in a hand, this sword shows that it is still up to the man to seek out spiritual victory, as this is not able to be obtained in any way except through relentless efforts; this sword has the shape of a blue triangle, the search for victories to be achieved through spirituality and balanced by the ternary.

            The arm is in a circular sleeve with piping, the colors of flesh and blue, indicating the act in a universe of physical vitality, traversed by psychic waves.

            The red cuff, bordered with blue, indicates that the union of the two planes–the psychic and the material–is necessary for action.

            The red hilt, with its yellow hilt-guard and pommel, shows that that the will of Man, supported and protected by his intelligence, is exercised in material actions.

            The falling flames of different colors show the effective role of energy in the material world, as they represent the fertile germs from which all things are impregnated. They also indicate that the victories which come forth from the energy are never ego-based and that they always spread forth as beneficial rain. The variety of colors shows that their action extends into all three states.

            The flowers of the crown, three red and two blue, specify that its domain is both the spiritual and material planes with, however, more power in the later, as that is where efforts must be exercised.

            On the rim of the crown are depicted nine ornamental shapes; this set of nine, too complicated to be worked out here, represents the work of perfection which Being, in its radiance arises from the inspiration of the Divine, must perform in order to attain material quintessence, represented by the points of the crown, truncated diamonds.

            On the left side, the branch of the laurel, with its flesh-colored stem, its yellow and blue leaves, its yellow and blue leaves, and the blue flower which issues from it, reinforce the meaning that victory cannot find its origin anywhere except in on the spiritual plane and it will only be acquired by force in its three aspects: mental, psychic, and vital.

            On the right side, the palm, yellow, blue, and flesh-colored, also issues from a blue flower, and indicates an analogous effort, with the difference that victory will come to an idea, without physical effect, but through sacrifice.

Meanings As They Relate To The Three Planes

            This Ace leads to one conclusion: whatever the difficulties, there will be the realization of something, since it is the synthesis of nine other activities and because of that the sword accomplishes its task with inflexibility and without deviating from it.

            MENTAL. Intellectual clarification, precision and clarity. The Ace of Swords strengthens all intellectual power, because it is issued by the mental will of the Being.

            ANIMISTIC. The absence of sentimentality. This card emphasizes faith, mysticism, or firm convictions.

            PHYSICAL. Health. Affirmation of complete progress. Assures that matters have a secure foundation. Repair of nerve impulses.

            INVERTED [1]: Mental laziness. Letting things go. Lack of energy, weakness. In certain caes: violence. Sudden cessation of life. Murder.

*

            In sum, in its Elemental Sense, the Ace of Swords represents the active force which Man deploys firmly and with understanding to achieve the triumph of his ideal.

[1.] The basic quality of the Minor Arcana suit of Swords is not altered when the card is inverted, but its forces are then aimed, as a more or less general rule, towards a negative meaning.

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General Observations About The Numbers 1 – 10 And Modalities By Which The Symbolism Of The Numbers Has Been Derived For Their Adaptation To the Minor Arcana

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1

            The Ace represents unity considered as a departure and as a synthesis summarizing the meanings of the 9 consecutive cards.

2

            The number 2 is the symbol of passivity, of polarity, and of the elements of gestation. Through passive polarity, it is without effect, but through gestation, it is the material of all things that develop.

3

            The number 3, through 2 + 1, introduces an activity in the passivity of 2, which gives directions to the gestation.

4.

            The number 4, produced by 2 x 2, contains a crystallization and, as the intermediary between 3 and 5, a transition. It represents therefore a relative state of stability and, consequently, things which are ordered and tend towards a consolidation of themselves, towards security.

5.

            The number 5 is a number of transition, the passage from one plane to another, because it is composed of 4 + 1, 4 being a complete number. to which is added a unity, which is to say, a beginning. The base 4, which is built up in order to engender the following number, gives it a sense of multiplicity and diffusion through influence.

6

            The number 6 represents a harmonious balance, as it is formed from 3 + 3, or two ternaries which are in opposition to each other, and from 2 x 3, implying a similarity between these two ternaries, and, consequently, their equilibrium. In its elementary sense, it signifies a latent power, a potential, which is to say, reserve on which we can draw.

7

            The number 7 = 6 + 1, indicate, through its union, force, action which uses the power contained in 6. It puts it in play, while maintaining its harmony, so that it indicates successful completion. It is a number of synthetic achievement.

8

            The number 8 = 4 + 4 brings unity to the combination of the cross and the square, which is to say, the stability of the material plane with the interior life of the divine plane. This is not an abstract equilibrium, as that of 6, but one which marks an end, because it has no need of being animated through other currents. It is the symbol of infinity, as it is formed of two adjacent circles which, tracing in one direction, develop each other indefinitely.

9

            The number 9 represents the orientation of the abstract towards the concrete. The previous 8 numbers indicate material animated by the divine; when taking 9, which is 8 + 1, one obliges 8, which is perfect, to take on one unit more, which is to say, an entree to action, thus to describe a new cycle,  one which implies a new penetration of force into matter, like the one which is accomplished when the universe, virtually conceived, is realized in matter to make its experience evolutionary.

10

            While 1 synthesized in their principles the numbers from which it began, 10 condenses them within itself, because it participates in each of them through its 0 which connects them in potential and directs them to a new cycle by the 1 which accompanies the 0. It is, furthermore, the number of reason and of calm, since, when it is with 9, the abstract was making contact with the concrete, by 10, it is now in equilibrium in the physical, since 10 = 2 x 5.

Conclusion

            The Minor cards stop at the number 10 because if they were to go beyond this number and arrive at 12, which is an outcome, they would no longer have a link to the physical and they would remain inaccessible to human understanding.

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Representation of the Numbers on the Minor Arcana

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            The number of objects depicted on each minor from 2 through 10, with the exception of Coins, is indicated on the horizontal axis, to the right and to the left, expressing the duality and indicating therefore that these cards are passive, and thus impersonal and inoperative in of themselves, and that they suggest a possible signal, a subordination to other cards, and that they do nothing but offer a property which the other cards direct.

            This clarifies their role eclipsed by the Major Arcana, and this meaning is accentuated also by the Coins. In effect, they do not  bear a number—the circle which represents them has neither beginning nor end–they are able to adapt to all creation, just as money is able to be at the service of all human undertakings.

            These four series of minor cards, with the exception of the Aces, are represented with relation to two axes of symmetry, the vertical and the horizontal; the former characterizing activity, the division into two parts; the latter, the passive signification, separating the Above from the Below–the Spiritual and the Material–making apparent, most of the time, a distinction between the elements of the card.

            The Minor Arcana with figures which by their resemblance to people indicate a personality, are named to affirm this, and hence their predominance over the other minor Arcana.            The Aces bear no numbers, since they represent the synthesis of the series of the cards which they refer to, and, consequently, they are not able to have a place in the rankings. Nevertheless, the cards which follow them, bearing the number which transposes Unity onto another plane, allow their original character to be revealed.

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General Comments about the Minor Arcana

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The Minors represent the secondary forces which are subordinate to the fundamental forces expressed by the Majors. They enable them to show their consequences which lead to the realities and are the steps between the fundamentals and their practical applications: They make the Majors concrete.

            In a nutshell, the Minor Arcana provide the details which lend color to the fundamental forces expressed by the Major Arcana, because, as we do not live in fundamental forces, it is necessary to explain the consequences leading to realities.

            They are, like the Major Arcana, subject to the laws of number. Representing a material idea,  they consist more of simple expressions, and therefore simple images, which is why their total number is greater than that of the Major Arcana. They consist of 56 as opposed to 22 because, for their state to apply to the different combinations of matter,  they are grouped by necessity into four series, 4 being the number representative of the operations of matter. The following names have been given to these series: Swords, Cups, Coins, and Batons.

            On the other hand, as the Tarot represents the evolution of Man, symbolized by the cycles of 10, and 10 implies implies all the periodic elements of the physical world, each element of the quaternary of the minor cards, each with 10 repetitions, express all the possible combinations of numbers in the physical world.

            These combinations, being indeterminate in of themselves, must be defined by a new, conscious quaternary. It results in 4 new figures which, by nature, are doubly polarized; to wit, the Page and the Knight, the Queen and the King.

            The basic quaternary envisaged in this synthesis, with the goal of making concrete the Major Arcana, may be divided into two groups of polarities.

            The first one, active and quantitative, represents an expansive energy and a condensed energy, for which the Ancients made the principles of Fire and of Earth, and which, according to the symbolic drawings of the Minor cards, correspond to the Baton and the Coin respectively.

            The second, passive and qualitative, represents the sensitive states, one one receptive and the other one radiant, for which the Ancients made the principles of Air and of Water, and which correspond to the Sword and the Cup respectively.

            This same quaternary, considered from an analytic point of view, presents us with an ordered concentration of forces: the Fire, the Air, the Water, and the Earth, and correspondingly in the minor cards: the Baton, the Sword, the Cup, and the Coin.[1]

            The combination of synthetic and analytic points of view of the quaternary generate the following principle meanings:

            The SWORD represents activity on the material plane which, in its most subtle and most broad expression, creates access to the spiritual riches of divine love.

            The CUP, a symbol of the receptive sensibility of Man, is filled with these spiritual riches and expresses them with a psychism which extends from the most elevated form to the most elementary: from divine love to human affection.

            The COIN makes these riches concrete, extending them to all domains of the Earth through the works of intelligence.

            The BATON, a symbol of material force, uses these riches to construct, cultivate, and direct.

            Independently of their particular courses, each of these four aspects of the Minor Arcana is reflected in the other three; thus the notion of universal love is found in all four, but it is dominate in the Sword which represents Sacrifice.

            To grasp more easily the successive evolution, which is to say, the tendency and the effort towards a higher finality of the four modalities represented by the Swords, the Cups, the Batons, and the Coins, it is useful to compare the preceding and following cards, not in numerical order, but as equals, which is to say, corresponding to a single polarization.

            The even, or passive, cards fall into one group and the unequal or active ones into another. The even cards produce action on the inside and create reserved forces, while the active cards are active on the outside and cause these reserved forces to produce results by bringing their activity into play.

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[1] The order and the relation of denominations of the cards will seem to be in contradiction of the data presented in certain exegeses of the Tarot. The reader will draw for him- or herself the conclusion according to thorough examination, taking into account that the Sword swirls in the Air, the Baton is derived from wood, the generator of Fire, the Cup is the receptacle of Water and the Coin is the symbol of the metals which the Earth conceals.

Card XXI: The World (Le Monde)

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Epitome

            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.

Specific Analogies

            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. 

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