Symbols in the Tarot card The Universe

Written by  on February 2, 2016 

The Tarot card called “The World” of the Rider-Waite-Smith deck it’s been renamed “The Universe” in the Crowley-Harris Thoth deck.
Eliphas Levi gave to the card The Universe (Le Monde) the number 21 and but assigned it to Tav which is number 22. The root of this problem and misinterpretation it’s the card The Fool (The Unwise Man or Le Mat) which was associated with zero, but placed at the 21st position between The Last Judgement and The Universe. Crowley, as a great admire of Levi kept this order of the cards. He attributed 0 to 1 (Aleph) creating a shift between the Hebrew letters and their numeric value. While Levi didn’t bother to explain too much this inconsistency, Crowley explained that the Kabbalistic zero it’s not “nothing”, but “Ain-Soph” which means “Without Limit”. It still don’t clarify why in their system the Hebrew letters assigned to the Tarot cards don’t match their own numeric value according to Gematria.
But the issue of zero it’s not our concern right now!
Levi had not much to say about this card (The Universe): “The microcosm, the sum of all in all. Kether, or the Kabalistic Crown, between four mysterious animals. In the middle of the Crown is Truth holding a rod in each hand.” As we may know, the microcosm represents the man, while the macrocosm represents the Universe. Somehow it seems that Levi get it all wrong. Of course, we are aware of the fundamental principle of Hermes “That which is above equals that which is below” (more commonly: as above, so below). It means that the Universe is reflected in the man and the Universe is the reflection of the man. So, Levi most probably thought that the card represents this principle. I can accept this, but it’s hard for me to understand the meaning and the interpretation of this principle in a Tarot reading. Even further, I am absolutely convinced that each Tarot card represents a particular Astrological aspect and I’m confused which aspect that would be.

Papus had a very similar interpretation of this card. He said that “this symbol represents Macrocosm and Microcosm, respectively God and the Creation, or the Law of Absolute. He also stated that in Astronomy it represents the Sun. Regarding the symbolism, he attribute the four figures around the central nude female figure to the four elements (Fire, Water, Air, Earth), although his attribution of the Elements to the Suits it’s erroneous (he attributed the Swords to Earth and the Pentacles to Air while The Swords are the Air and the Pentacles are the Earth).

According to MacGregor Mathers The Universe (also bearing the number 21) represents the Nature and the Divine Presence therein. As for interpretation, Mathers said that it’s represent competition and reward.

A.E. Waite called it “The World”. The card represents 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.

While most of Crowley’s predecessors including Waite were not interested in the Astrological attribution of the Tarot cards, Crowley assigned “The Universe” to Saturn.
I was never comfortable with Crowley’s Astrological attribution because they were not actually based on Astrology, but on the Kabbalistic association according to the Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Formation or Book of Creation).
The Universe, as Crowley explains, is the Celebration of the Great Work accomplished. The first and most obvious characteristic of this card is that it comes at the end of all, and is therefore the complement of the Fool. The Universe represents the end and The Fool the beginning. The beginning was Nothing; the end must there fore be also Nothing, but Nothing.
According to Crowley Saturn is masculine because it represents Osiris and “Osiris is a black god, the old god, the god of fertility”.
So, in the spirit of Eliphas Levi Crowley’s card is attributed to Tav (number 22), but numbered 21 (Shin). Crowley is right about one thing: Tav represents Saturn. But the Tarot card for Saturn is not The Universe, but The Devil.
I raise one pretty obvious question here: if the card is Saturn and Saturn is masculine, why the central figure of the card is female?

So, what represents The Universe?
According to my calculations, The Universe should representing the zodiac sign Aquarius (governed by Uranus). The Number of Uranus is 7 and 7 is an active (creative), respectively feminine number.
I believe the creation was a pure feminine act: a birth. Even the most ancient male god, the Summerian Enki had a mother called Nammu (corresponding to Tiamat in Babylonian mythology).
The theme of virgin birth is long precede Christianity in the in ancient Eastern religions.
I traced back Uranus to the Sumerian god Anu, “King of the Gods”, “Lord of the Constellations, Spirits and Demons”, and “Supreme Ruler of the Kingdom of Heaven. His Greek equivalent was Uranus, the god of the heavens (Father Sky). According to Hesiod’s Theogony, Uranus was conceived by Gaia alone. (Another possible case of virgin birth).
Uranus is also called Aion, respctively Æon. The name that Crowley gave to the card Judgement (or Last Judgement), card number 20 (Shin).

Although Uranus was depicted as a masculine god since the dawn of the times, it’s quite disturbing and hard to explain how he appears as a woman on the Tarot card.
The only thing I can think of it’s that my calculations are correct and 1, 5, 7, 10 (14, 16, 19, 23, 25, 28,32, etc) are creative, feminine numbers; that Uranus is number 7 and who ever created the Tarot deck knew all that.
And the same “error” applies also for the card Lust (or Strength) which represent the zodiac sign Leo, sign which traditionally also considered to be a masculine sign, but everywhere is depicted as a female figure with a lion. I think Leo is also a feminine sign, governed by Sun assigned to the number 1. Creation means birth: the Leo is the supreme Mother Goddess. Just think of it.
The whole notion of active/passive, male/female, positive/negative good/evil is fundamentally wrong and misleading.
Hard to believe? Prove me wrong.

This image is the central part of a large floor mosaic, from a Roman villa in Sentinum (now known as Sassoferrato, in Marche, Italy), ca. 200–250 C.E. Uranus (Æon) standing inside a celestial sphere decorated with zodiac signs, in between a green tree and a bare tree (summer and winter, respectively). Sitting in front of him is the mother-earth goddess, Tellus (the Roman counterpart of Gaia) with her four children, who possibly represent the four seasons.
Except the male figure the resemblance to the imagine of the Tarot card is breathtaking.

Written by Attila Blaga. Full or partial use of this text for commercial or non-commercial distribution by any means whatsoever is strictly prohibited unless expressly authorised by the author.

The World Tarot card

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