A female figure clad only in a violet sash dances in the heavens holding a pair of white wands. An oblong green wreath with red bands at both ends surrounds her, and escorting her in the clouds are the angel, the bull, the eagle and the lion—the four living creatures from Ezekiel’s vision and Trump X, the Wheel of Fortune. She gazes not at us, but at faraway vistas, and worlds yet to be; for she is the Divine dancer of the spheres, whose emanations set the universe in motion, and whose emanations shall bring it to a close.
The symbolic ritual dance—the spirit using the body as an offering of supplication to God—is a nearly universal phenomenon across all religions and all cultures. The Old Testament makes many references to dancing, and even commands it as a fitting tribute to God, as in Psalms: “Let them praise His name in the dance, and sing Him psalms with tambourine and harp.” The Sufi branch of Islam is home to the Dervishes, who spin their bodies ever faster to attain a state of ecstasy. In the Hindu pantheon, the dancing of Shiva unleashes the “fire of life” that either creates or annihilates worlds. Haitian voodoo rites are often visited by a loa, a spirit who possesses a living body, and who may command it to sing or dance until exhaustion overpowers the host. Native American ceremonial dances may be primarily for the benefit of tourists now, but for centuries they were used to tell stories, to conduct rites of initiation, or to pray for the blessings of the Great Spirit. (Alone among the world’s major faiths, Christianity was slow to adopt the dance in any form of worship, and to this day, some denominations discourage and even proscribe it—perhaps because a dance cost John the Baptist his head?)
Whatever form it takes, however, the ritual dance tends to have a single unifying purpose undergirding it: By animating ourselves and employing our creativity in honor of the higher power, we in turn “animate” the Creator, who then grants us the powers of creativity that that we offer back up unto Him in a endless cycle of worship and mercy symbolized by the oval wreath that shelters our cosmic dancer.
Trump XXI reduces to 2 + 1 = 3, the same as Trump XII, The Hanged Man:
They could practically be a song-and-dance team, couldn’t they?
This, then, is our eventual dispensation for the spiritual surrender to love that Trump XII would have us make—an ecstatic union with the Shekinah, God’s Holy Spirit among us; a liberation from the body and the woes of the world; and an uplifted spirit that would (literally) dance into heaven. This is why the path of The World, the final path joining lunar Yesod and earthly Malkuth, is known as the Administrative Intelligence—the state of consciousness in which, as Paul Foster Case puts it, we enter the kingdom of heaven as “fully enfranchised citizens.”
The Hebrew letter assigned to The World is Tav, or “cross.” This is not quite the cross we associate with the crucifixion of Christ, however. In the 9th chapter of Ezekiel, we read of the Lord commanding the archangel Gabriel to mark the foreheads of the righteous of Jerusalem, that they would be spared the destruction that God had already ordained for the city. The “mark,” as certain Biblical commentaries have it, was the mark of the Tav, or “T” cross; by this mark, the righteous of Jerusalem were spared, while the rest of its inhabitants were put to the sword. The suggestion that we should draw an analogy between the cross of Ezekiel and the cross of Calvary is perhaps the reason why Waite decided to include the four living creatures of Ezekiel’s vision in the “final” card of the Trumps Major. The creatures, we recall, return in the “final” book of the New Testament to herald the end of the world and to pave the way for the anointing of the Messiah—he who died and who was resurrected by the cross, and who could only come into being in His time after the children of Israel were spared by the cross in theirs.
In any event, perhaps our inability to fully divine the many meanings of this seemingly simple card is only due to our own lowly powers of apprehension. The planet associated with the The World is Saturn, the furthest and most inscrutable of the traditional planets of classic astrology, and traditionally associated with confusion, delay and even danger. This only reminds us of how many mysteries of this card remain hidden from us, and likely will until that time when we depart this stage of consciousness and become as Case’s “citizens of heaven”. The house of God is now our assembly hall. Let us invite our brothers to join us in the dance.
Meanings of this card in a reading are as can be divined: Generally, a matter brought to a successful conclusion, or the end of one chapter of life and the start of another; but also stagnation, unexpected setbacks, or success delayed. Even if the card is ill dignified, it’s hard to ascribe an unambiguously negative aspect to it; for the world, like the Wheel of Fortune, keeps spinning around, and what seems to fail for us today may succeed for us tomorrow.