What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from. ~TS Eliot
Finally we reach the culmination of this heroic journey with card 21 –The World! In this last of the regularly scheduled podcast series, Julienne and Cyndera discuss beginnings, endings, rebirth, transformation and fulfillment.
After all these trials and tribulations of the hero’s journey, we now come to know true balance and connection to our destiny looking back across our past and forward into the future. We feel the benefit of the journey thus far and see that our evolution is not just for ourselves but for the good of others. From this stage onward, our sense of risk is different because we have a greater understanding of the richness of life and recognize both the strength and space to hold challenge and loss as well as joy in the days to come.
In Joesph Campbell’s classic definition of the Hero’s Journey, The World card represents the stage of Master of Two Worlds as well as the Freedom to Live.
Symbols in the World Card:
- Ring of laurels tied with a lemniscate (infinity symbol) – The ring of laurels is also called temenos (Gk) a safe place, asylum, a temple, also reminiscent of the Yoni, laurels are also a symbol of victory.
- Infinity symbol seen also in: Magician, Strength (also in the 2 of coins/pentacles card)
- Androgynous figure / Dancer– leg crossed over just as in the Hanged Man card (it’s opposite on this Mobius strip) – a dance , balanced opposites, an act of creation – the Self in equilibrium, perfect union of masculine and feminine.
- Lion (Leo), Eagle (Scorpio), Bull (Taurus) and the Human (Aquarius) – 4 fixed signs of astrology - 4 elements (air, earth, water and fire). These 4 symbols also appear in the Wheel of Fortune card. these can also refer to a passage in the Bible’s book of revelation
- Suspended between heaven and earth – remember the Fool as she fell over the cliff, suspended for a moment not realizing what’s she’s gotten herself into? The symbolism of suspension this time is of balance and trust.
- 2 wands – balance – command of opposites (references to both The Magician and The Chariot). Wands are about doing – this is a sign of readiness.
The World as the Bodhisattva Card
Bodhi [enlightenment] and sattva [being]. From the Mahayana tradition of Buddhismm, the bodhisattva vow is the commitment to put others before oneself. It is a statement of willingness to give up one’s own well-being, even one’s own enlightenment, for the sake of others. Taking the bodhisattva vow implies that instead of holding our own individual territory and defending it, we become open to the world that we are living in and are willing to take on greater responsibility.
Film and Fiction References
Cloud Atlas, book (2004) and film (2012)
One of the main themes is of freedom and connection. Eventually leading to the realization that all is one. Redemption and evolution. Characters from each of the weave of stories in both the book and film have revelations of oneness:
Sonmi-451: “Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb, we are bound to others. Past and present. And by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.”
Robert Frobisher: “And all becomes clear. Wish I could make you see this brightness. Don’t worry, all is well. All is so perfectly, damnably well. I understand now, that boundaries between noise and sound are conventions. All boundaries are conventions, waiting to be transcended. One may transcend any convention, if only one can first conceive of doing so. Moments like this, I can feel your heart beating as clearly as I feel my own, and I know that separation is an illusion. My life extends far beyond the limitations of me.”
Adam Ewing: “What is an ocean but a multitude of drops?”
Issac Sachs: “These forces that often remake time and space, they can shape and alter who we imagine ourselves to be, begin long before we are born, and continue after we perish. Our lives and our choices, like quantum trajectories, are understood moment to moment, at each point of intersection, each encounter, suggest a new potential direction.”
Additional film references:
The Tree of Life (2011)
The Great and Powerful Oz (2013)
The Fountain (2006)
The Matrix (1999) - In the very last scene of The Matrix, Neo makes a phone call , saying: “When I used to look out at this world, all I could see was its edges, its boundaries, its rules and controls, its leaders and laws. But now, I see another world. A different world where all things are possible. [...] I can’t tell you how to get there, but I know if you can free your mind, you’ll find the way.”
Popular associations with The World card:
- Fulfillment —– Accomplishment —– Success —– Integration
- Involvement —– Prospering —– Satisfaction —– Repleteness
- Contentment —– Good feelings —– Wholeness
“All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”
~Julienne of Norwich (14th century English mystic)