Understanding Tarot: The World

the world tarot
Tarot card art from the Rider-Waite Smith Tarot Deck

The Understanding Tarot series is written by Claire Chilvers. It follows the Fool’s journey through the Major Arcana. You can find out more about Claire’s insights and readings at @ClaireChilversTarot

Successful endings and new adventures

Here we are at the very end of these articles moving through the Major Arcana, where we have walked each step of The Fool’s Journey experiencing and embracing all the highs and lows along the way. 

In the previous article, we encountered the card Judgment. We said goodbye to The Fool as he left his human form and returned to his soul energy. And, (just to prove there are never any real endings – either in the Tarot or in life), regardless of his departure from Earth, here we are united again as he floats in unison with the Universe, looking down on The World.

In The World card, The Fool is greeted by a naked maiden, covered in a purple sash, which reminds me of the carefree, happy scene of The Sun with the young, naked child waving an oversized red flag. 

The maiden is holding two wands in her hand, which is a symbol of his journey’s history. The Fool himself carried a wand, slung carelessly over his shoulder as he embarked on this quest and his first mentor was The Magician, who held his wand aloft reminding The Fool that he could manifest his dreams into reality.

Even the characters shown in the four corners of the card are a reminder of past events on this journey. We last saw these four watching as The Fool clung onto The Wheel of Fortune and waited for it to stop spinning.

Back then they were far removed from him, sitting high above the clouds, adorned with wings reminding us they were in a different realm. But today, they are vibrant and present and waiting to join him as equals, along with the maiden, to celebrate his successful completion of all that he went through on Earth.

Instead of The Wheel of Fortune, the circular symbol is a laurel wreath, tied with the colour red to symbolise victory. Yet another reminder that life is not linear, but cyclical, and as one cycle ends another begins.

I have often wondered whether on arrival at this cosmic part of The Fool’s journey, he gets the opportunity to have a really good look back at his life and reflect. Do the heads floating through the clouds replay him a video of his life so he can reminisce on his achievements and learn from his mistakes?

You can imagine my surprise when I read a book called The After Life of Billy Fingers by Annie Kagan, as this is exactly what is described.

The book follows the real-life story of Annie and her relationship with her brother who died in a car accident. He is visiting her through visions telling her of the afterlife, early on in the story he describes this exact scenario and explains:

“I am watching this from a distance, so all the ups and downs, all the dramas, seem like they are happening to someone else.”

Interestingly, he also recalls to Annie something quite magical as she scribes all his messages to her;

“They say there’s Judgement Day after you die, but actually the opposite is true. There’s No-Judgement Day. Viewing my life has become surprisingly enjoyable because I have an absolute acceptance of myself and everything I’ve done.”

I find that comforting in many ways, and I hope you do too, as we will all arrive at this place at some point.

But, as much as that explains our final message for The Fool as we finish following his journey, it is important to understand the message The World tarot card wishes to give to us when appears in our tarot spread.

Of course, it certainly does not mean we are imminently following The Fool to the afterlife, but its acceptance and contentment for completing one of our life cycles on Earth is a similar theme.

If our life were a video game, this card represents when you complete the tasks set to you on a particular level, and there is nothing left to do. Triumphant music plays and the screen flashes “Congratulations! You made it to the next level”.

In that brief pause, as our video game avatar jumps happily up and down on the screen, we get the opportunity to remember what we have accomplished and what mistakes we made, so we don’t make unnecessary wrong turns on the next level. We know we are incredibly capable to have made it this far, but, are also sure there will be lots more things coming at us that we haven’t seen before. It is likely to be a bit more of a challenge, but nothing we cannot manage and, eventually, master.

Instinctively, we take a deep breath, regroup and get ready to carry on, excited at what new things we will see and what will happen next.

So, if The World is giving us this message and is the celebration and the pause before we move on to the next level, then what is the next card?

Well, if we are standing at the start of an unknown adventure, excited, a little nervous and not sure what is going to happen next then there is only one card that really fits the bill to sum up the next card in the journey – The Fool!

Which would make perfect sense as to why the naked maiden is carrying two wands. One for herself and one to give to The Fool for his next level. He can tie up some of the key elements he has learned from this last journey in a little handkerchief and tie them to the wand, sling it carelessly over his shoulder and jump into the unknown for another exciting adventure.

And so can we. 

I hope you have enjoyed reading these articles as much as I have enjoyed writing them. I would like to say a heartfelt thank you to Tanaaz for giving me the opportunity to write for Foreverconsicous.com, it has been an absolute honour and a pleasure. And thank you too, dear readers, for all the lovely comments I have received too, each one has been so gratefully received and cherished.

If you would like your own tarot reading with me, I provide readings via zoom for people all over the world. To find out how to book a reading or to read more of my articles, please visit my website http://www.clairechilvers.com. 

Wishing you all lots of love and luck on your next exciting adventure. X

You can read more from the Understanding Tarot Fool’s Journey series here.

About the author

Claire Chilvers

Claire Chilvers is a writer and tarot reader and lives in Essex, UK. She offers tarot readings to clients in the UK and around the world via video calls (Skype usually), if you would like a reading please contact her at clairechilverstarot@yahoo.com.