Tarot Stories: The World is a Full Circle
Updated: May 1
From jotting notes to publishing, my first book took me a year and a half to complete. I started the process by making voice notes with my phone while on my afternoon walks at the park, I hammered away at my first… and second and third drafts in the early morning hours and on the weekends, and I worked on edits during lunch breaks. Rinse and repeat that schedule for the cover design, formatting, and social media announcements. Looking back on that time, the entire process is a blur, but I distinctly remember many significant guideposts along the way. And I especially remember the emotional and physiological sensation that coursed through my veins the moment I clicked the button to publish.
Whew, I thought. I did it. As the tears leaked down my face, my muscles relaxed, and I was overwhelmed with joy, pride, excitement, and relief. I had written and published a book. A whole book! What will I do now?
Write another. The message was as clear as a flashing highway sign. But first, rest.
And so, I did just that. I rested. I read a ton of novels, I vomited my new book all over social media, and I began imagining what I might write next.
Today, my writing and publishing process is pretty much the same. I still conceptualize my stories during my walks, I still rise long before the sun to write, and most of my weekend hours are spent tapping at the keyboard. The winter months are when I do my best writing, though; being completely immersed in a storyline helps warm my spirit, making the seasonal blues a little more tolerable. Like the seasons and the tides, my many creative ventures ebb and flow, and thankfully, my creativity always returns full circle.
In the Tarot, The World is a full circle. The final card in the Major Arcana, The World celebrates The Fool as they complete their journey—The World is both you and me. As I complete my own journey of writing each of the Major Arcana card profiles, I, too, feel celebratory! Let’s explore the meaning of this card and all its festive and divine symbolism.
What's happening in The World card?
Immediately and prominently, we see a woman. She’s naked and draped with a purple sash and holding a wand in each hand. Is she floating or is she dancing? Either one, she’s seemingly satisfied with life and in total harmony with the four elements which are represented by the symbols in the card’s four corners. The man at the top left corner represents Aquarius, an air sign, the eagle is Scorpio, a water sign, the lion represents Leo, a fire sign, and the ox is Taurus, an earth sign. Encircling the lady, we see a green oval-shaped wreath. It’s wrapped at the top and bottom in red lemniscate ribbons. The shapes, symmetry, and symbolism of this card are similar to those found in the Wheel of Fortune.
The World: A Deep Dive
The World is completion, small and large. From the end of a week to the end of a life cycle, The World ushers in a return, either back to the start or on to the next theme. The World is karmic fruition, the end of one journey and the start of something new.
The World is Saturday, the completion of the week. It’s the day before an equinox or solstice. It’s New Year’s Eve. The World is a spiritual graduation, a coming of age, a return to center. From a writer’s lens, The World marks the polishing of an outline, the end of a chapter, the finalization of a first draft, the conclusion of a project. We did it… and now we must do it even more.
If The World card lands on your desk, whatever it is that you are working on is in full alignment with the energy you’ve spent bringing it into fruition. You’re right on track, most likely nearing an end, a conclusion, and you can anticipate the manifestation of all your efforts and consistency.
Along every phase of our creative journey, however, The World invites us to draw upon the four elements. Featured on the four corners of the card, clockwise from top left, we can see Air (Aquarius), Water (Scorpio), Fire (Leo), and Earth (Taurus). Air is a reminder that the sky is the limit—let those imaginations soar! Water endorses pouring one’s all into our creative process… just don’t forget to refill your cup. Fire is an invitation to set a fire in the soul, igniting creativity, and letting that energy imbue everything along its path. Finally, Earth cautions us to stay grounded when necessary and humbled always.
The World is a card of travel, especially long-distance. Have you ever considered a writer’s retreat? For me, one of the most effective methods for cultivating stories and developing characters has been immersing myself into their environments. For example, I have been planning a magical realism series that takes place in Central and Coastal Georgia and Florida. As such, when I’ve been able to, I’ve traveled to and spent a lot of time in Warm Springs, Savannah, and St. Augustine, my series’ three main locations. For fantasy writers, however, you might venture somewhere reminiscent of your inspired world. Alternatively, if you are unable to travel, virtual immersion can be just as enlightening! Most of my inspiration is drawn from reading books within my project’s genre and watching an abundance of movies that take place in similar settings.
The World Reversed: The Shadow
When The World is turned upside-down, everything pauses. Activities, travel, goals, they all hang in the balance. What’s blocking your character from completing their journey? What’s keeping you, the writer, from finishing that first draft? Something has been left undone and is waiting for action, either by you or your characters, whichever resonates. Decide what you can do in order to tie up those loose ends and set The World right again.
Notable Symbols for The World Card
Spirit / Earth
Twenty-one is a number of varied meanings. In numerology, the number 21 denotes fulfillment and manifestation. In the Tarot, there are twenty-one numbered cards in the Major Arcana (The Fool is zero and is therefore considered unnumbered). The number is also universally known. In the United States, for example, twenty-one is the legal age for purchasing and drinking alcohol … although you can vote and be drafted into the military at the age of eighteen. But I digress. In the Bible, the Israelites committed twenty-one acts of rebellion in order to break free from Egyptian rule. Blackjack, the famous card game, is also called “Twenty-one.” A 21-gun salute is an honor while twenty-one guns is a Green Day song. There are twenty-one dots on a six-sided die. And, lastly, according to an experiment conducted by Dr. Duncan MacDougall, the soul weighs twenty-one grams.
The number 21 reduces to three, which represents creativity, expression, growth, celebration, and longing. See also The Empress.
Eagle—Scorpio, a water sign
Lion—Leo, a fire sign
Man’s head—Aquarius, an air sign
Nakedness—Like the figure in The Star card, this person is also nude, which represents bravery, freedom, naiveté, opening oneself to the possibilities, success, spiritual graduation, and vulnerability.
Ox—Taurus, an earth sign
Purple sash—The color purple is associated with spirituality, enlightenment, and because the earliest purple fabric dyes were costly, only the wealthy could afford them. Therefore, the color came to be associated with royalty, luxury, and opulence.
Sky and clouds—higher thought, perspective, and elevated thinking
Vesica Piscis—The shape made by the wreath is known as a Vesica Piscis, a geometric shape and sacred symbol formed by the intersection of two circles. Symbolically, this shape in The World card means the connecting of Heaven and Earth. The two circle halves are connected by a red lemniscate, the infinity symbol also found in The Magician and Strength cards. The Vesica Piscis represents divine femininity, fertility, the seed of life, and the Universal womb.
Wands—action, magic, and power
Wreath—In the Tarot, wreaths symbolize accomplishment, achievement, success, triumph, and victory.
The World, Characterized
The World is you and/or me after the completion of a journey. Because we are writers, that journey probably had something to do with a creative endeavor: a poem, book, memoir, blog post, short story, research paper, or any other writing project.
If The World represents your character(s), s/he/they have arrived at the completion of their journey. Depending on where this card falls in the spread you are using, this card can mean that your character has completed a cycle and is ready to graduate on to something new. Perhaps they have been on a journey. The World signifies the completion of that journey. Your character(s) are ready for what’s to come next. The World is The Fool after their long journey, the Divine Feminine, and Mother of the Universe. The person in this card might also be a cheerleader, an enlightened individual, a flight attendant, a hostess, a magician, a mother, and/or a witch.
Notable characters, people, or personas
Celie and Nettie as they reunite in The Color Purple; Mary, Mother of Jesus; Goddesses Aphrodite, Diana, or Venus; Hermaphroditus; The Earth Mother; Mother Nature; Tituba, Marie Laveau, Mother Shipton, and/or Laurie Cabot.
Thomas, B. (2019, December 17). The Man Who Tried to Weigh the Soul. Discover Magazine. https://www.discovermagazine.com/mind/the-man-who-tried-to-weigh-the-soul
Kirti, K. (2021, December 16). The Fascinating Iconography of Vesica Piscis - The Collector. Medium. https://medium.com/the-collector/the-fascinating-iconography-of-vesica-piscis-5674bd834dd7
In her more than thirty years as a storyteller and visual designer, Amanda “Mandy” Hughes has written and designed over a dozen works of literary, Southern Gothic, and women’s fiction under pen names A. Lee Hughes and Mandy Lee.
Mandy is the founder of Haint Blue Creative®, a space for readers and storytellers to explore, learn, and create. She holds a Bachelor and Master of Science in Psychology, and she has worked as an instructional designer for nearly twenty years.
When she’s not writing fiction, Mandy enjoys the movies, theater, music, traveling, nature walks, birdwatching, and binging The Office. She is a tarot enthusiast who uses the cards to enhance creativity and foster wellness. She lives in Georgia with her husband and four sons, two of whom are furrier than the others (but not by much). Visit her website at haintbluecreative.com and follow her on Instagram @haintbluecreative.