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Greater Arcana Study Group—The World

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Abrac  Abrac is offline
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Greater Arcana Study Group—The World


As this final message of the Major Trumps is unchanged—and indeed unchangeable—in respect of its design, it has been partly described already regarding its deeper sense. It represents also the perfection and end of the Cosmos, the secret which is within it, the rapture of the universe when it understands itself in God. It is further the state of the soul in the consciousness of Divine Vision, reflected from the self-knowing spirit. But these meanings are without prejudice to that which I have said concerning it on the material side.

It has more than one message on the macrocosmic side and is, for example, the state of the restored world when the law of manifestation shall have been carried to the highest degree of natural perfection. But it is perhaps more especially a story of the past, referring to that day when all was declared to be good, when the morning stars sang together and all the Sons of God shouted for joy. One of the worst explanations concerning it is that the figure symbolizes the Magus when he has reached the highest degree of initiation; another account says that it represents the absolute, which is ridiculous. The figure has been said to stand for Truth, which is, however, more properly allocated to the seventeenth card. Lastly, it has been called the Crown of the Magi.
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Abrac  Abrac is offline
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“It has more than one message on the macrocosmic side and is, for example, the state of the restored world when the law of manifestation shall have been carried to the highest degree of natural perfection. But it is perhaps more especially a story of the past, referring to that day when all was declared to be good, when the morning stars sang together and all the Sons of God shouted for joy.”
However you look at it—the world restored, or the world in its original state of perfection—it’s a symbol of perfection.

The four living creatures correspond to the letters of the tetragram (YHVH). Those, together with the wreath, represent the Divine Powers that encompass all of creation. Inside the wreath, the woman symbolizes the creation in the act of an ecstatic dance after becoming consciously aware of herself in God. It is what Waite refers to often as the Beatific Vision, the direct experience of the Divine.

The Waite-Trinick version follows the Golden Dawn fairly closely, though Waite’s meanings for the symbols differ from Mathers’. In the GD and the Fellowship of the Rosy Cross, the World is path 32, Malkuth-Yesod, and links the World of Action with the world of Formation. This is the entire description of the Great Symbol from Waite’s FRC Theoreticus Initiation. It covers quite a bit:
“The lesson in chief of that Path of Tau, through which you have passed in your progress from the Grade of Malkuth, is shewn in the Great Symbol of the Path. Within an oval of 72 circles there is depicted a female figure having the lunar crescent on her head. The Four Living Creatures of Ezekiel’s Vision, placed outside the oval, are in correspondence with the four letters of the Sacred Name Jehovah, while the circles forming the oval are in correspondence with other Divine Names communicated in our secret tradition [The Schem ha-mephorasch, or 72 names of God]. They signify together the Divine Powers which stand about the whole creation, the in-dwelling of that Word which is intimated everywhere in Nature, but passes into expression nowhere. This is on the macrocosmic side, on which also the female figure represents the perfection of the universe as an expression of Divine Law and Order. The two wands signify active and passive, the positive and negative currents, the fixed and volatile, the inbreathing and outbreathing which alternate continually in Nature. Of these the female figure is at once the equilibrium and the synthesis. In another form of symbolism, she is in the act of dancing, to indicate the ecstasy and joy with which the harmonious creation came into manifested being. She is thus archetypal Nature, and for this reason is shewn to the Zelator on his issue from that World of Action which is Nature in travail. You now see her in all the original perfection with which she was adorned at the beginning as an Image in the Divine Mind. But she is manifested with a Veil about her, because Nature is a woman, and her mystery is not declared in this Grade. The lunar crescent intimates that all her lights are borrowed or reflected, and that their source is in God. The Star of the Heptagram above her refers to the number of creation. There is also the macropsychic side of the symbol, but its deep unfolding of the life of souls in God belongs to a later stage of your progress. I can say only that she is the law and state of Paradise, the Divine Presence within and without ourselves, represented by the Shekinah [Shekinah in manifestation as opposed to Shekinah in transcendence in the Supernal World]. There is, however, the personal, or microcosmic side of the symbol, and as such it typifies that state which is delineated by the work of the World of Formation in the Fellowship of the Rosy Cross: the re-making of man, male and female, in the perfect terms of the archetype. For us and for our concerns, the female figure is therefore the Restorer of Worlds, and of you, my Brother, in the likeness of the Elohim. For this reason she is shewn to you on the threshold of the World of Formation, whereat you now stand. She is the Guardian of the Gate.”
I tend to prefer the terms and active and reactive to Waite's active and passive.

NOTE: This is as far I'm going with this. If someone else wants to carry on with the lesser arcana or something else from the PKT, I might participate but won't be starting anything else, for now at least.
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Abrac  Abrac is offline
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The woman might be seen as the Anima Mundi, the Soul of the World, or Creation. She is to Nature on the macrocosmic level much the same thing as the Soul is to the individual human body on the microcosmic level. There seems to me a close connection between the Anima Mundi and Waite's Shekinah in manifestation.
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Pam's World illustration doesn't deviate too much from the long standing traditional image from the Marseilles style. It occurred to me last night that the angel, bull, lion, and eagle are symbols used in each of the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Their trajectory is Christ's ascension to the divine and inspires us to confront eternity in our search for union with God.

Waite had to have been aware of this very rudimentary Christian imagery. It was clearly more integral to the pre-Renaissance iconography that gave us the "Le Monde" card in Marseilles. I'm not well read on Waite, so I merely put it out there; perhaps he was more concerned with astrological or GD associations here.
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Hi Philistine. I believe there's no doubt Waite was aware of the Christian history of the imagery. He says as much in his description in the first part of the PKT:
"22. The World, the Universe, or Time. The four living creatures of the Apocalypse and Ezekiel’s vision, attributed to the evangelists in Christian symbolism, are grouped about an elliptic garland,. . ."
He seems to abandon this idea though as he never mentions it in reference to his own design.

On one level he agrees with the G.D. as far as the living creatures corresponding to the letters of the Divine Name (YHVH). They can be seen as guardians at the four corners of the material universe.

In Waite's Fellowship of the Rosy Cross Portal Ritual of the Third Order, the initiate was given a special symbol which incorporated the four living creatures. They corresponded to the Mystical Elements and to Malkuth (Bull), Yesod (Man), Hod (Eagle), Netzach (Lion). To quote from the ritual ("Netzach" in brackets was added by me):
"Another title of admission has been granted in the symbol which you now bear. It shall be unto you a Sign that the wings of the morning are uplifted in the orient of life. You will observe that in this symbol to which I direct your attention, in a special manner the four living creatures of Ezekiel’s vision are grouped together in correspondence with the inward meaning of your progress through the lower Grades of our Fellowship. Leo at the summit signifies the Grade of Philosophus [NETZACH] and the dedication of your natural will. The Bull at the lowermost point represents MALKUTH and the consecration of your Earthly body in the Grade of Zelator. The Man corresponds to YESOD, the Grade of Theoreticus and the purification of your natural mind. The Eagle has referenced to HOD, to the 3 = 8 Grade of Practicus, and to the human emotions and desires which are hallowed therein."
I don't think they had any special astrological significance for Waite though they might have had some. Just a few days ago I read in Waite's autobiography where he admits to astrology being his weakest subject. I didn't mark it and now I can't find it, but that was the gist of it.
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Philistine  Philistine is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Abrac View Post
He says as much in his description in the first part of the PKT
Of course: the PKT! It's such an opaque little text that I tend to gloss over it. Thanks for the informative reply. Interesting how he appropriates the old image, intact, for Rosy Cross purposes.
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Posts related to the Fibonnaci sequence have been split into a new thread - Fibonnaci Sequence and the Majors (split from Greater Arcana Study Group—The World)
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