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No. 22

Tarot 22

Il Mondo, The World: In early hand painted tarot decks the image on the World card was different from what is regularly shown on it today, where a woman is in the centre, and there is another human in a large wreath [Agrell].

In one old deck, the Visconti Sforza deck, a circle encapsules a city that is surrounded by the sea. The circle is raised high by two infant boys, two putti. The idea of a city that is furnished with turrets and battlements in the style of a castle, persists and endures in other decks of the era too. Further, "In D'Este cards the world is depicted slightly differently with a putti sitting on top of the circled city, while more commonly . . . a regal looking woman holding a sceptre and orb, stands on top of the circular window-like motif which opens onto the world. This type of portrayal contied into several early printed acks, and we find it as late as the 17th centure in the tarot de Paris, where a naked figure holds a large drape behind him while standing on top of the globe." [Allen 163-64]

In the four corners of younger decks, a young nude is in the centre, draped modestly with a long, flowing scarf. In some decks the nude one is holding wands or staffs in both hands. The beings in the corners are a winged human or angel, an eagle or hawk, a bull, and a lion, as with the symbols of the four evangelists. In some decks these four beings have wings. [Hollander]


The idea behind the picture is to represent completion. [Huson; Sharman-Burke]

What you do, seems to be of worth. [Sharman-Burke]

An individual is established and is satisfactory. [Sharman-Burke]

Completion and central harmony. [Sharman-Burke]

Achievement's satisfaction. [Sharman-Burke]


In the present approach, The Circled City (or The World) and The Hermit share the tenth life field (area). As indicated on the Hermit page earlier, what the travelling monk secretly dreams of, might well be a nude . . . and if that looks far out and something it is hard to defend oneself against, so be it.


Knowing key sides to the variegated history of the tarot cards, and how key motifs have gone down the drains and others have been changed, I would not put so much into them, in particular the Rider-Waite deck and its many derivates and variations. The reason is that much has been added, and meanings not originally intended for these playing cards, have been fabricated and put into cards too.


Tarot study, Literature  


Agrell, Sigurd. Die pergamenische Zauberscheibe und das Tarochspiel. Lund: The University of Lund, (Sweden), 1936:155-56.

Allen, Toni. The System Of Symbols: A New Way to Look at Tarot.. UK: Self published, 2003:163-68. Online at Google Books (limited view).

Farley, Helen. A Cultural History of Tarot: From Entertainment to Esotericism. London: I. B. Tauris, 2009. ⍽▢⍽ Helen Farley is Lecturer in Studies in Religion and Esotericism at the University of Queensland. Her book is a researched and well written study of tarot symbolism and the changing imagery in the cards. She explores ways in which tarot has reflected culture from Medieval Italy and till our times.

Hollander, P. Scott. Tarot for Beginners: An Easy Guide to Understanding and Interpreting the Tarot. Illustrated ed. Woodbury MN: Llewellyn Worldwide, 1995:115-18. Online at Google Books (limited view).

Huson, Paul. Mystical Origins of the Tarot: From Ancient Roots to Modern Usage. Rochester, VM: Inner Traditions / Bear and Company, 2004:135-39. Online at Google Books (limited view).

Sharman-Burke, Juliet. The New Complete Book of Tarot. Rev ill ed. New York: Macmillan, 207:125-27. Online at Google Books (limited view).

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