Our Maiden, Our Mother, Our Mistress

Let me preface this with good news:
I was accepted into a Master’s in Social Work program in a great place. I’ve spent the last few months moving and getting into the swing of scholastics. I have just finished several presentations, and several papers (one a 25 pager). The semester’s winding down and I miss blogging!

I’ve been noticing alignment with the Moon and my life. The Moon is my ruling heavenly body. The full moon in Capricorn fell on my birthday, and Capricorn is the opposite sign of Luna. Then, on my first day of classes, there was a New Moon in Virgo, the sign of diligence and hard work in the Moon phase associated with beginnings. Finally, for one of my classes, I visited a Hindu Temple. The night I chose to visit just happened to be on the full moon in Taurus, a good time to mix intellectual duty, spiritual fulfillment, and fun. Therefore, I feel that it was time to talk about the Moon.

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The Moon, drawn by Mary Guinan for Julian DeBurgh’s Celtic Deck shows white stones surrounding a mysterious golden glow. A great pearl of a full moon gleams down on the scene. The Moon is a mystery. What are the secrets the questioner is in the process of uncovering? The Moon tells that there is more than meets the eye. The Moon casts her silver and pearl glow over rituals and meditation, protecting and illuminating.

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Here we have the Crab, naturally, and two wolves gracing Barbara G. Walker’s Moon card. The Crab is venturing into new territory from the mysterious, primordial pool, called by a full moon that’s pregnant with possibilities. The wolves sing to Luna as she rises above two pillars flanking a golden path that leads to darkness. It’s a little eerie. Where does that path lead? Is it safe? Is it safe to follow the moonlight? Will we find treasure, or…lunacy?
The Moon pulls our tides, and may also pull our blood, at least, I think so. Water is also full of treasures, but also threats, just like our subconscious.
By the way, the nine blood drops curving around the Moon there? They represent menstrual blood, and there’s nine of them to represent the nine months of pregnancy. Fun fact: the words moon, month, and menstrual all have the same root! The Moon is associated with the female, although in Japan, Tsukuyomi, is a Moon god, and the Germanic tribes had Mani, and the Mesopotamians had Sin.

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Kris Waldherr chose Diana/Artemis for her Moon card. Diana is the Huntress, and she is known for her harsh punishments (such as turning a guy into a stag and having his own dogs rip him apart, because he saw her bathing), and yet, she has a nurturing aspect to her as well. She helped her mother, Leto, deliver her twin brother, Apollo, right after she herself was born. She was also the protectoress of girls right until they were married. She healed Aeneus after his battle injury in the Trojan War. The Moon itself is associated with illusion and lunacy, but, it is also a source of healing and creativity.
Nature, and the Moon, are cyclical. Life is cyclical–waxing and waning with periods of activity and periods of rest. Diana, the Maiden, is the first aspect of the Goddess, followed by Selene, the Mother, and finally by Hecate, the Crone.

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In a more verdant landscape than Walker’s, Wood’s Moon features a little crustacean strolling out of a pond that is blue, not black, and the thin path winds between a small wolf and a very large beagle into a misty rolling field. The mystery we see in Walker’s card is still there, but it seems more nurturing somehow–perhaps because there’s some luminescence in the distant horizon, and there’s plant life. Instead of two pillars, there are two stone caves. The caves, as we’ve discussed before, symbolize the Earth Mother’s womb.
If you look at this card, it can be full or a crescent, waxing or waning. If you see the Moon as waxing, or growing bigger, it might be a fortuitous time for new beginnings. If it is waning, something may be coming to an end.
A wild wolf and a loyal dog have come together to serenade the Moon in a duet. The domesticated dog and the feral wolf unite their qualities in the Moon. The Moon is a loyal, loving mother, but may give you more than you bargained for. Case in point:

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Dorcha is Epona’s Wild Daughter. You can find her in The Faeries Oracle, by Brian Froud. She’s part of the group of Faery Challengers. She forces the reader to confront what Jung called the Shadow self, or the parts of the self we label bad. She accompanies us through depression, anxiety, and nightmares, like Hecate. Like Hecate, she may be misunderstood. Just because there is no light at night does not mean the Moon is not there, and just because somebody shows you frightening things doesn’t necessarily mean they are evil.

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Laiste is Dorcha’s sister. She believes in pulling pranks to wake people up, like when the Moon’s light makes things look like things they are not–turning water into solid ground, and trees into skeletons. She embodies the mystic Moon, and can be whimsical. However, just like Dorcha, she wants you to be open and go deep. She and Dorcha are adopted daughters of Hecate, the dark side of the Moon who can be fierce, but shows surprising flashes and glimpses of beauty. Hecate will then always become Artemis again, new and full of promise of new beginnings, and then become the gentle, loving Selene, and back to the Goddess of Magic.
I think that’s one of the reasons I’m so happy Luna is my ruling body. She’s everything–young, old, mother, maiden, wise woman, Queen of Witches. She guides and obscures. She’s also in a close, personal relationship with Water, element of dreams, love, and emotion. She is silver and pearl. She is Maiden, Mother, and Mistress.

Ace of Swords: Inspiration and Expiration

Before we discuss the Ace of Swords, let’s first review Aces and Swords.  Aces are the cards that indicate new beginnings, and Swords correspond to the element of Air.  Swords are symbolic of intellect, rationality, reason, wit, problem solving, and challenges.  They can also signify medical care, ill health, betrayal, and sadness.
Because I like to get bad news out of the way first,  let’s begin with Barbara G. Walker’s Ace of Swords, titled, as you can see, “Doom.”

Clutching a sword, a sorceress stares at the reader impassively, sizing them up. Behind her swirl the spirits who float in the ghostly ether.  A crowned skull is at her feet, not only to remind us of death and doom, but to proclaim that in the world of Air, intellect is king. 
Interestingly, I notice, right now, that the swirling spirits look like sperm fertilizing an egg! This, to me, symbolizes that sorrow and strife can be used to create something new. 
Since Ace of Swords signifies new beginnings, if it appears in a negative reading or if you feel a warning vibe from it, take it as something that may be preventable.  After all, the sorceress isn’t stabbing at the viewer; she’s simply eyeing him warily.  The questioner might be able to use his problem solving skills to nip this in the bud. 

Beginning the cycle of Ace of Swords cards that depict a lone sword standing point-down, I should like to present the Ace of Swords from Kris Waldherr’s Goddess Deck.  The sword stands in the arid desert, the pyramids in the background. The culture of ancient Egypt (Isis is the goddess chosen to represent the Swords in the Goddess deck) is rich in invention, story, art,  theology, medicine, and government.  This intellectual fertility belies the seemingly lifeless desert.  Air people are gifted in these realms, and seem to be good at everything they try.  The Ace of Swords could thus be a signpost to a new interest for the questioner, one they will be particularly sharp at (sorry for the pun).
In an interpersonal reading, the Ace of Swords may indicate that the person the questioner is curious about is very intellectual and competent.  It may also be a little heads-up that this person may be more comfortable in her head than she is anywhere else in her body. This person may be emotionally cold. On the other hand, this person might be witty, well-traveled, and fascinating.
The ankh and a bull’s head glyph are etched into the sword’s handle.  The ankh is a symbol of life, luck, and love, something we cannot have without intelligence.  The Bull’s Head symbolizes the bulls of Egypt who represented Ptah, the god of crafts and inventor of the Word. Word is thought made visible, which is a fitting paradigm for Air!

The beautiful Mary Guinan art used to illustrate Julian De Burgh’s Celtic Ace of Swords shows the sword softly glowing, and vines growing out of and around the stone of the window. The brightness of a passionate intellect shines, and sometimes bursts, forth from the brow of its owner.  Athena, an intellectual, Air-y goddess (Raven Kaldera chose her as the patron goddess of the Sun in Aquarius), was born from the brow of Zeus, the ultimate idea. Her birth came with pain for Zeus–the worst migraine times 100–reminding us that Air is the element of pain and discomfort.  Some ideas are breech  births, or involve a difficult gestation. Like the ivy on the card, sometimes ideas must push through a layers of difficulty to shine forth. 
Here, the sword is in a block of stone, an altar.  Remember The Sword In the Stone, and Arthur having to pull the sword out of the stone to prove himself worthy to be king? The Ace of Swords may present a challenge that calls for the questioner to prove herself, either to the world or to herself.  Perhaps there is a job interview or the questioner is returning to school.  The open window behind the altar shows the road to adventure, and perhaps success. 

Robin Wood’s Ace of Swords is, like all her cards, rich with symbolism. What stands out to me is the location of the Sword–instead of planted, it is floating in its element, surrounded by a “brain storm” of clouds.  Or, perhaps the clouds, which form a tunnel around a flash of light, are muddled, everyday thoughts, and the light is inspiration. Inspiration means, literally, breathing in, as well as messages from the Muses.  Again, very fitting thought for Air.  The Ace of Swords can tell the questioner of coming “divine inspiration, total disillusion”  just as KMFDM sang of in their song “Light.” 
The blue stone at the center of the hilt is deep blue of clarity and calm.  It is hard to tell whether the sun is glinting off the blade, or if the light comes from within the blade itself.  Either way, the intellect is anointed–it is even crowned with laurel and white roses. The twining plants are similar to the Greek caduceus, the symbol of healing and medicine.  The element of Air heals through invention, through finding cures. 
The sword, while it inflicts pain, and can kill, also slices through illusion, like Kali’s knife.  It hacks through the brambles that form a barrier around the Edens of our dreams.  It cuts a clear, clean swath, and lets in the sunlight and fresh air.  It may bleed us, but, as Rumi says,  “The Wound is the place where the Light comes in,” where we learn love and gratitude, the greatest knowledge there is.

Energy and Elements: Air

Air

Air is a masculine energy.  It is the energy that compels us to soar, to dream, and to see the big picture. In my mind, Air energy is exemplified by birds, particularly hawks, eagles, ravens, and crows, because these are birds, according to mythology, that have been credited with being messengers of the gods and escorts to the underworld.

It will behoove us to remember this.  Air is so often associated with the mental, with the objective, and the reasonable and the rational. Air is indeed the intellectual element, but these birds remind us that people with Air energy have a birthright to the subconscious and the spiritual.

The creatures associated with Air are the sylphs, tiny fairy creatures that ride the breezes.  They are  known for their slender figures and large eyes. Although they are associated with a masculine element, they are all female.

Air is the energy to harness when things are feeling obscured.  It blows away the fog. It is the energy that will help you find calm and objectivity in times of stress and sorrow.  It is the view from the mountaintop, with the breeze clean, and the view clear.

Air energy is also like a blade. It cuts away pain, and rents holes in obstacles. It is the knife that Kali, the Hindu goddess of destruction and rebirth, wields, uses to slice away Illusion.

Air is also the energy to use when you need a boost in communication. Mercury, that winged messenger of the Gods (as things with wings are wont to be, going back to the hawks and eagles) isn’t associated with the Air sign Gemini for nothing. Air is energy that grants the gift of blarney.  People with Air energy are well-spoken and charismatic. They are consummate at the art of persuasion, and have a gift for wit and the turning of phrases.

I associate Air energy with the eyes.  Air energy can be used to see the big picture, and the little details. It is this gift for intense scrutiny that helps solve problems. The creativity of Air energy is that of inventiveness.

Air is also good to tap into with travel matters.  It will ensure swift, safe motion.  This travel can be literal or metaphorical, such as the movement through the five stages of grief.

Healing Visualizations

Air energy is good when you have an excess of Earth and Water energies–when you feel murky, weighted, and lachrymose. In Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of health, Air/Ether energy is called Vata, just as Fire/Water energy is Pitta, and Water/Earth is Kapha. Here are some visualizations to increase Vata.

To bring Air energy into your life, there are a couple visualizations. Before these visualizations, make sure you are in a place where you can be uninterrupted, a quiet place where you can feel safe. Spend a few minutes progressively relaxing your muscles, letting your breath slow and deepen.

Now, imagine you are in a wide open space. The air is clear and clean. Imagine you have wings. These wings can look however you want them to look–angelic, butterfly, raven, hawk–and these wings are strong.  These wings can carry you high and far.

Now imagine moving those wings. With each beat of these wings, energy and power builds, traveling all throughout your body, up your spine, lighting up your heart and third eye.  As this power rises, so do you, and soon you are soaring.

As you soar, you look ahead and you see your goal in front of you. As you fly closer to it, you can see the path to get there. It is clearing and opening for you.  You can see the steps to take.  You see where the shadow ends and the sunlight begins.

The sky opens to you, and it welcomes you. You feel expansive and light.  What does your sky look like?

In another visualization you can try, picture yourself standing on a mountain. You have a 360 degree view, an eagle’s view. You have scaled this mountain. You have earned this vantage point. You are now above your pain and confusion. It is down in the foothills. Up here, you can see past the current difficulty, and over the fog that surrounds you.  Enjoy this moment. What does you see, down at the foot of the mountain and beyond? What is above you?

Excessive Air Energy

Excessive Air (or Vata) energy can make you feel anxious and jittery, and even give you insomnia.  It can also make you dead to your emotions, over-rational, and distant from others. Here are some meditations to help you balance this out. The best way to counteract Air is with Water and Earth.

Again, before any visualization, make sure you’re in a quiet, safe place, with no interruptions. Center yourself first with progressive muscle relaxation and mindful breathing.

If you feel you need to connect with your empathy and your subconscious, you might want to try this Water visualization:

You are entering a moonlit glade. In this glade is a pool. The water is clear and clean, and the perfect temperature. You sink into it.  As you float, the moon and stars play on your face.

Or, perhaps it is a sunlit glade, and the shadows and sunshine flit across the surface of the pool like fish.

The silky water is soothing. You duck under the water, and swim through the grotto. What do you see below the surface? Are there fish? Anemones? Or perhaps just jewel toned sand? Feel the water slide and sinuate around you.

Also, on a more concrete plan, you can take a nice hot bath, or jump in a pool and do some laps.

If you need to be more grounded, try an Earth meditation:

After becoming centered, put yourself in a forest. The forest is made of trees that tower over you, forming a protective bower. They are ushering you, with a flourish, to your destination–the entrance to a cave. However, spend as much time with the trees as you’d like. Let your imagination pick whatever season it wants to settle into.  You may feel an incredible relief just being among the trees. Let it happen.

When you get to the cave entrance, you find that it is the perfect size for you to enter. The cave is cozy, warm, and sweet smelling, like a Narnian rabbit warren, or a Hobbit hole. Everywhere is a soft glow.

As you curl up, or stretch out, on the soft, comfortable bed of earth, you feel a gentle sound, infinitely familiar. It is the sound of a heart beating.

Spend as much time as you need to feel grounded and secure.

You can also increase this experience by making yourself a little hidey hole and curling up.

Heavenly Sevens

In numerology the number seven is associated with wisdom and intelligence. There is a difference between the two. A person can be intelligent but not wise, and vice versa.  Wisdom is more spiritual. Intelligence is more worldly–it has to do with what you can learn, and is cerebral.  The number 7 covers both.  It is also associated with spiritual growth and meditation. As God rested on the seventh day, the number seven implies a need for rest and introspection.

Let’s start with Wands in the Minor Arcana.

Here, the man in the kilt stares down six Wands, his own Wand blazing. Who or what is holding those other Wands? What is this man’s goal? He is fortunate to have the high ground, though, and his legs are strong in his stance. He even has a slight smile on his face. He is confident in his strength and in himself.

In the Celtic Deck, it is apparent that the protagonist on the hill is fighting against six other men. He still holds the high ground, and has a determined expression.  Generally, if Seven of Wands shows up in a spread, it’s telling you to stand your ground. You’re probably going to come out on top, or at the very least learn what you’re capable of.

Freyja, the mediator goddess between the warring gods of Aesir and the peaceful Vanir, is the goddess of the Staves. While the men on the Robin Wood and Celtic decks are confident,  Freyja is uncertain. In certain situations, it is good to be wary. It could very well be that there are aspects of the situation that you are not aware of.  Being wary will help you keep your position and maintain your supremacy.

Here is a man in a Damocles situation. What is unique about this card is that it reminds us that conflict may be caused by ourselves. We may take on to much and find ourselves overwhelmed. Such is the price tag with success, a concept associated with the Wands/Staves, as they are aligned with the external masculine energy.

Reversed, the Seven of Wands/Staves means that the questioner is overwhelmed and unstable. A retreat may be in order.  It may also mean an argument will not be won, or a request will not be granted, as they are too many things working against it.

Moving along to the Coins/Pentacles:

The Seven of Pentacles/Coins is in keeping with the theme of rest and contemplation associated with the number.  Here, a man is very content with his handiwork, which is growing and almost ready for harvest.  From his gloves, it’s apparent that it took hard work to get here, but it was worth it.  This card signifies that now is a waiting period, and that good things are on the way, particularly if the question concerned financial, health, and real estate matters, which are under the umbrella of the earthy Pentacles.

The man here is contemplating his money. How much does he already have? How much more does he need? If he needs more, how can he get it?  Those may be the questions the Seven of Pentacles may recommend the questioner consider.

In keeping with the garden theme–gardens as a metaphor for fertility, abundance, richness, patience, cycles, and hard work paying off–Lakshmi is depicted tending hers.  The work is satisfying, and is not a hardship. She is full of happy anticipation. If the question is concerning whether work, education, or another venture will pay off, the Seven of Pentacles is a good omen.

Of course, Barbara G. Walker has to break up the happy-fun time and poop on everybody’s party (I mean no disrespect. Barbara G. Walker is one of my heroes. It’s just I know this change in tone is quite jarring and I wanted to add some levity).  In her deck, Seven of Pentacles can mean failure. As far as I can see, this has to do with the nature of cycles, which is one of the concepts the Earthy Pentacles have to teach –sometimes the garden is fallow or frozen. However, in the distance is a dark door flanked by seven stars, leading into the cave. What is in that cave? Is there gold? Or perhaps a place to rest and recuperate from loss? Look at the other cards.

The Seven of Coins/Pentacles reversed in other decks say basically what Barbara G. Walker’s upright Seven of Pentacles says, and also warns against impatience, laziness, and entitlement.

The Seven of Swords indicates a need to protect oneself, and vulnerability. It also indicates shadiness or deception, on the part of the questioner or on the part of someone the questioner knows.

The Seven of Swords tells the questioner to be careful–someone is either actively trying to harm them, or an impersonal crime may take place. Put up extra protection and be very watchful.  Someone may be sneaking around or spreading rumors. This card can also indicate that the questioner may be up to no good, and are about to be caught, or get themselves entangled in the negative behavior. Those who live by the sword die by it.

This picture makes me think of Caesar’s last moments. Watch your back, the cards are telling you. Someone may be a traitor.

Isis, the goddess of the Swords suit, is frightened as she carries her five swords.  Her brother/brother-in-law Set (I know, right?) has killed her husband/brother, Osiris (I know, right?), not once, but twice, dismembering him the second time,  and she must now put Osiris back together, all the while watching her back in case Set tries to kill her and Osiris again. The Seven of Swords is sympathetic. It knows how difficult it is to carry the burden of fear.  It would make a world of difference if someone came to help carry the burden, but the Seven of Swords indicates isolation, or the feeling of isolation. When the Seven of Swords shows up, it may be beneficial to take stock of whom you can trust. You may not be as alone as you think.

Okay, I’m going to point out the elephant on the wall before anyone can jump to conclusions. Yes, that is a swatstika on the wall. Yes, when I saw it, I literally flinched. But trust me, Barbara G. Walker is NOT a Nazi. Here’s the a brief history of this symbol, from her invaluable book, The Woman’s Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects:  “Named for the Sanskrit ‘so be it’ or ‘amen,’ the swatstika has been a religious emblem of worldwide occurrence since at last 10,000 B.C.  It appeared on the oldest coinage in India, on images of Buddha in Japan, and on Greek and Roman figures of the Great Goddess…It was still used as a magic sign in Europe up to the beginning of the twentieth century” (Walker 61). Even with such an illustrious history, the swatstika is another casualty of the Third Reich, and I won’t touch it in my work with the runes (the Futhark and Futhorc do not even have the swatstika anyway).

Okay, now that that’s out of the way, the woman, who is a wise crone, has created a circle of seven swords over her as a protective amulet. She sits with closed body language, with her arms and legs crossed. The black cat by her side is her familiar, an extension of her soul and boon companion. Again, this card seems to ask whom we can trust.

Reversed, a Seven of Swords indicates paranoia, or unrealistic fear,, and indicates that the questioner must seek help. It can also reveal truly dangerous activity or a terrible threat.  Your intuition may also tell you, looking at the card, that a reversed Seven of Swords indicates the danger is past. Use the other cards surrounding it.

The Seven of Cups is a card of dreams and decisions.

Here, the girl’s hair becomes the clouds. She is clearly in a flight of fancy. Her head isn’t just in the clouds, it is the clouds! The young girl is constructing many lovely scenarios for herself–there’s a cup of jewels with a dollar sign motif, a castle in a cup with a crown around the brim, and fireworks shooting out of the cup with the heart.  What those stand for don’t need explaining, but some of the symbols are more estoteric. The dragon in the red cup symbolizes power and passion. He’s a little bedraggled, because he’s been fighting temptation and oppression, as shown by the chains on the band of his cup.  Dreams take work to come true, and sometimes a fight.

The snake in the cup with the moon waxing, full, and waning represents, wisdom and healing. Because snakes shed their skins, they were associated with healing and the shedding of disease. The molting of snakes was seen as a symbol of rebirth and renewal. The moons are symbolic of womanly wisdom, the feminine knowledge of the subconscious, the hidden, and nature cycles.

The laurel in the cup with the skull and crossbones motif is a visual pun meaning “Victory over Death” (Wood 201-208).  The last one is a mask in a silver cup.  The color of silver is symbolic of feminine energy and the moon.  The mask is the Self. Getting behind the mask means the ultimate self-knowledge.

This is why I love Robin Wood. She is so rich in meaning and her artistry is stunning.

In the dreamy Celtic Deck, the Seven of Cups shows a woman peering off the back of a boat. Is she longing for the past, which will never come again? Is she happy with the person she is with, the person rowing the boat? Actually, he’s not even rowing the boat. He’s gazing at the beautiful sight before him, seven cups in a glowing pyramid. But is that vision real, or a mirage, an illusion? Is it distracting him from the real goal at hand, which is getting to shore? Is he not paying attention to his surroundings, and putting himself and his companion at risk?

Sometimes, the Seven of Cups warns us against illusions and distractions.  It reminds us to know when to let go of a desire it is impossible to obtain, such as a return to the past, or the returning of a love who is not good for us.

In Kris Waldherr’s goddess deck, Venus, the goddess chosen for the emotional, romantic cups, is dreaming of the snake, the castle, the crown, and the victory laurel.  The skull can represent the ultimate knowledge of the afterlife, a rebirth, or holding death in the palm of your hand, or, in this case, a goblet.  The rose is for sensual pleasure, beauty, and romance.  Then there is a mysterious seventh cup, shrouded by a piece of white cloth. What is it? What surprises does the universe have in store?

There are many things to choose from. The Seven of Cups may indicate several choices, all of them equally appealing. The choice must be made, however, and the best way to think about it is with gratitude, and tell yourself that no bad decision can be made here.

Here, a poet who makes me think of the Romantic poets (those transcendent, nature loving, emotional dreamboats!) or perhaps Rumi, the Sufi ecstatic.  He has his quill and paper, and is gazing off into the soft swirling fires of inspiration, from which emerge a blonde angel (or siren, depending) with a rainbow aura. She sprinkles him with seven blood red drops from an overturned cup.  She is the Muse, watering our imaginations. He leans on a tree shaped like a hand reaching to the heavens, symbolizing the desire to break earthly bounds. Seven of Cups may symbolize a visit from the Muse, but it may be ephemeral.  Watch for insight and revelation, but also be careful of indulging false hopes or red herrings that may lead you away from what you may really want or need. For example, if you’re seriously considering leaving a wonderful person for the person you’re infatuated with simply because you’re bored.  Or, you’re taking a job that you claim to love but you only love the money.

Reversed, Seven of Cups signals self-deception, false hopes, ennui, and indecision. It also may indicate spreading oneself so thin there’s no commitment to any one thing.

Sources: Walker, Barbara G. The Woman’s Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1988. Print.

Wood, Robin. The Robin Wood Tarot: The Book. 1998. Livingtree, 2009. Print.

The World

The World is the 21st and last card of the Major Arcana.  It is a card of accomplishment, completion, success, and joy.

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.