The World is the 21st Major Arcana tarot card and represents the culmination of The Fool’s journey. In The World, we are presented with a vision of integration, balance, and the reconciliation of the many dualities encountered throughout the tarot deck’s Major Arcana: spirit and matter, movement and stasis, emergence and decay, and heaven and earth.
The World is the final card of the Major Arcana and is associated with the element of Earth and the planet Saturn. As Saturn is the furthest planet from Earth that is visible to the naked eye, it rules over the boundaries and limitations of material reality. It represents the fundamental conditions of having a body: it is both the vehicle for our spirit and that which is subject to inevitable decay.
If The Wheel of Fortune is about chance, fate, and new directions, The World represents what can happen when those chance forces bring about a conclusion or finalization of events.
The World Keywords
culmination, fulfillment, end of a cycle, synthesizing opposing forces, moving with life’s currents
delayed culmination, liminality, gathering courage, feeling disconnected from greater calling
Description of The World Tarot Card
Following the rebirth in Judgement, The World delivers a vision of culmination, fulfillment, and the reconciliation of many opposing forces seen throughout The Fool’s Journey. At the same time, the wreath which encloses the dancer is reminiscent of an egg, which speaks to an emergent new beginning: a seed of potential that will inspire another trip around Fortune’s wheel.
In the popular Rider Waite deck, the wreath is made of laurel, representing victory and completion and wrapped in red bows of infinity, which are similar to the lemniscates seen in The Magician and in Strength. It creates a protective field around the dancer, containing and guarding her energy so that she may move with the dynamic currents of the present moment.
She is pictured in motion, suggesting that her awareness is centered on a continuous state of becoming: past, present, and future collapse into the perpetual now. She holds two wands, one in each hand, symbolizing her ability to balance and integrate two opposing forces. The wreath is guarded by four creatures: a man, an eagle, a lion, and a bull, which represent the four fixed signs of the zodiac, the four elements, the four suits of the Minor Arcana, and the four directions.
The World Upright Meaning
The dancer in The World is pictured in motion, which underscores the idea of needing to move between contrasting energies, emotions, and ideas in order to navigate the ebbs and flows of life. It speaks to life as fundamentally being a dynamic process of change and the importance of feeling and perceiving all of it, in all of its contradictions and paradoxes.
This card speaks to a time of major completions, accomplishments, and the fulfillment of goals. It can signal that you feel a sense of oneness with your greater calling or purpose and that you are able to be in a dynamic relationship with it. You feel connected to the world around you because you are in alignment with your deep self. It represents the closing of one major life cycle and the beginning of a new one.
It signifies a process of coming into balance through the integration of different aspects of consciousness (as represented by the 3 Lines of the Major Arcana). There is a harmonious interplay between your deliberately directed thoughts and goals, your subconscious motivations and feelings, and your superconscious awareness or connection to your higher self.
Love and Relationships (Upright Meaning)
The World represents a period of maturation and harmony within your relationship. If you have been through a period of profound change, this card suggests that you have learned important lessons and have integrated them into your consciousness. This is a time when you can celebrate what you’ve learned, how you’ve grown, and the ways that your relationship has evolved.
The wreath that encircles the dancer suggests that your relationship serves to protect your energy, allow you to grow as an individual, and become more wholly yourself. This is achieved by balancing the needs of the self with the needs of the other and establishing harmony by integrating opposing qualities between you and your partner.
Career and Finance (Upright Meaning)
The meaning of The World concerns itself with achievement, the completion of a major undertaking, and the feeling of pride in all that you’ve learned and accomplished. You could be coming full circle and seeing rewards for the hard work you’ve put in over a long period of time, or the attainment of a long-held desire or goal. You’ve learned how to command the energy of growth by meeting and learning from challenges along the way.
The World suggests that the work you do emanates from deep within your inner self but also connects you to the outside world and others. You’ve learned to integrate your subconscious drives and superconscious awareness into the way you consciously approach your work, which has allowed you to pursue goals that align with your greater purpose.
Love/relationship upright keywords
Career/finance upright keywords
maturation, harmony, relationship as protective container, creative integration of opposites
achievement, completion, oneness with greater calling
The World Reversed Meaning
In the reverse position of a tarot reading, The World indicates that you are nearing a stage of completion, but you have not reached the finish line yet. There could be delays in the external world right now which are slowing you down, or you could be facing inner doubts and fears. You may be feeling daunted by the enormity of your goal or project, signaling the need to gather your courage and strength.
The World reversed can also suggest that you are feeling uneasy in a state of liminality or limbo. This feeling of being in-between may be uncomfortable, but it is a necessary step toward reaching your goal. This can be likened to being in the birth canal—a state of transition that cannot be rushed or reached through shortcuts, a painful but necessary process that facilitates new life.
This card can suggest a feeling of disconnection from your greater purpose or your true self. You may have lost contact with your inner dancer because you are too heavily focused on the past or the future, which causes your energy to drain from the present moment. This card reminds you that you can regain your sense of wholeness when you see yourself as fundamentally connected to the world around you.
Love and Relationships (Reversed Meaning)
In the reverse position of a card reading, The World suggests that you are facing repeating patterns in your love life or relationship that are keeping you stuck and unable to move on to the next stage of life. You could be revisiting the same issues again and again or slipping into the same types of conflict. This card encourages you to try to adopt a new perspective on repeating issues, which can help to break the cycle.
It can also suggest a feeling of disconnection or incompleteness from your partner, or from romantic connections in general. You could be involved in an inner process of reflection that takes you out of the world of relating and more deeply into your own internal world. You may be desiring to emerge from this period and explore the greater world, widening your horizons to new connections and relationships.
Career and Finance (Reversed Meaning)
In the reverse position of a tarot spread, this card alludes to an undertaking or major career goals that are not yet complete. You could be experiencing resistance to progress by coming up with reasons why your goal can’t be achieved. If you can recognize the ways that fear and doubt show up in the form of procrastination and self-doubt, you can courageously resist these impulses which keep you stuck.
You could be experiencing stagnation or a feeling of disconnection from your own business venture or greater calling, possibly because of a narrow focus on the concerns of the ego. This card asks you to integrate your higher self into your consciously directed goals to reconnect to your true nature. This card asks you what is preventing you from feeling the freedom and ease represented by the dancer and to put boundaries in place that can help protect your creative energy and life force.
Love/relationship reversed keywords
Money/career reversed keywords
repeating patterns in relationship, disconnection from others, desire to expand horizons
resistance to progress, procrastination, self-doubt, disconnection from greater calling