The World Card #21 stands for finding your rhythm, nonduality, transcendence, and a balance of independence and interdependence.
Tarot cards offer a range of meanings to draw insight from. Both negative and positive aspects of each card can resonate with various aspects of your life.
The final card of the Major Arcana, The World depicts a woman dancing with two staffs. She is wrapped in a banner and her red hair blows in the wind behind her as she looks off to the side. In each corner of the card is a creature: a lion, ox, eagle, and a human head, representing the four elements of earth. The green banner or wreath encircling the naked woman resembles the ouroborous - snake biting its own tail - a symbol of infinity. There is no landscape in sight, so she seems to be floating over earth.
Some interpretations suggest the dancing figure is both man and woman. S/he is suspended between earth and sky. S/he is transcendent and beyond labeling, exceeding all expectations. In other decks the figure is holding a lemon and a staff, and the animals in each corner have red halos. In the center of everything, the figure holds the staff like a conductor. Despite all the contrasting forces in the world, the character has found a rhythm and a way to move freely amongst them.
The World card is similar to the eighth ox-herding stage in Zen Buddhism, stages characterizing the path to enlightenment. The image for the eighth stage is a simple circle drawn in ink, and it represents transcendence: “whip, rope, person, and bull - all merge.” Everything is connected in this stage, and there is no separation between self and other, opening the door toward endless transformation and possibilities. Generally one expects The World be depicted by a globe; it is surprising to see it represented by someone floating in the air. Nonetheless, it is by lifting off, transcending, that the whole view can be absorbed and the minute differences of everyday life merge into more global patterns.
Another aspect of this card, taking a cue from the ox-herding illustration, is emptiness. The figure is all alone, far from cities or villages, far from community. There is no one to offer encouragement or affirmation; s/he must be whole independently of these, despite having no material signs of her wholeness.
The King of Cups is a Royal Arcane Tarot card that speaks of noble leadership and negotiation. It also carries respect for and knowledge of religion and spiritual matters, science and philosophy.