Note: In Meditations on the Tarot, The World is treated in Letter 22, while Letter 21 is devoted to The Fool. The following epigraphs are offered as “a musical prelude” to Letter 22:
When he drew a circle
on the face of the deep.. .
then I was at work beside him,
and I was daily his delight,
rejoicing before him always,
rejoicing in his inhabited world
and delighting in the sons of men.
(Proverbs viii, 27, 30-31)
Lust — tiefer noch als Herzeleidl
Weh spricht: Vergeh!
Dock alle Lust will Ewigkeit —
will tiefe, tiefe Ewigkeit!
(Joy —deeper yet than woe is she!
Saith woe: Hence, go!
Yet Joy would have Eternity-
Profound, profound Eternity!)
(Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra)
One truly lives only when one dances.
The basic ideas of this Letter can be gleaned from the following brief quotes:
“The first ideas which come to mind in looking at the Card are those of dance, of flowering, and of the four elements . . . [suggesting] a conception of the world as rhythmic movement or dance . . . or, in other words, that the world is a work of art” (626).
“Does this Arcanum want to communicate this teaching only or does it, in the manner of . . . “The Fool” [in Letter 21] also give a warning? In other words, has it also two aspects—a teaching aspect and a warning aspect? . . . May our meditation therefore be sober, and may it not let either the Arcanum’s teaching or the warning that it entails escape us” (629).
“Now, the whole world is the accordance of innumerable rhythms. For its life is based on the preponderance of the accordance of particular rhythms, and not on their discordance. Thus life is basically joy” (631).
Now, the Card of the twenty-second Arcanum of the Tarot — “The World” — represents a dancer holding a magic wand in her hand, and a philtre in the other. The wand symbolises the creative power of realisation below of that which is above; she holds it vertically. This is the gesture of actualising below that which is above — the gesture of sacred art, i.e. the gesture imitating the way in which the divine creative spirit works” (643)
“In other words, the Arcanum “The World” has a twofold meaning: it teaches that joy, i.e. the accordance of rhythms, is at the root of creation; and it warns, at the same time, of the danger of seeking for creative joy instead of for creative truth. Thus he who seeks first and foremost for creative joy will drink from the philtre the intoxicating potion of illusion . . . the sphere of mirages, whilst he who seeks first and foremost for creative truth will not only find it through the sober effort of vertical elevation but will also participate actively in the accordance of rhythms, i.e. creative joy. He will learn the way of the wand . . . traversing the sphere of mirages unperturbed (643-644).
“The Arcanum “The World” is therefore that of analysis and synthesis. It teaches the an of distinguishing, within the totality of the experience of movement, the illusory from the real… (653).