This is the last article in our series about the esoteric meaning of the Major Arcana. In this article, we will examine the cards XIX-XXI. The Sun, Judgement, and The World. If you are interested in the previous cards, XVI to XVIII, please click here. The last three Tarot cards will show us how all the forces emanating gradually return to their common principle by evolution.
19. THE SUN
- Hebrew letter: Resh (double): The face
- Astrology: The Sun
- Element: Fire
Keywords: Joy, Positivity, Light, Reason, Victory, Harmony, Success, Vitality.
Even the darkest nights followed by dawn. In this card, the light, as a representation of spirit, resumes his ascendancy. It is no longer a reflected light but a direct creative force. Arcana 19 radiates positivity and fulfillment.
A large, shining sun with a human face dominates the sky. The face is the confirmation of the attribution of card 19 to the Hebrew letter Resh, which means “Face”. The Sun is the conscious living energy that is the source of all the activities on earth. He has two types of rays indicating his double action, in lighting and heating.
The number of these rays is 12 (12 straight and 12 wavy) associated with the zodiac as a representation of the circular work that regulates all life on Earth.
On earth, the wall indicates that the whole picture refers to the visible, material world. The four sunflowers above the wall represent the manifestation of the solar creative force in the physical world and the four elements. In front of the wall, there is a naked child mounted on a calm white horse.
The child is naked because it has nothing to hide, is innocent and pure. It represents the happiness of being connected with our true self. The child wears a crown of flowers and a red feather on his head. Notice that it is the same feather that the fool wears and symbolizes the inner light.
The concept of purity appears again through the white horse. In addition, the white horse symbolizes strength and nobility. The child does not need a saddle and reins to ride it, indicating trust and harmony.
The child holds an orange flag in his left hand. We have seen again flag, a black one, on the Death card. Generally, the flag notifies of a change that has occurred. The flag in this card notifies about the victory of the spirit over the fear (as described in the previous card), and the beginning of a new unfoldment. In other words, the victory of conscious powers of mind symbolized by the sun, over the subconscious powers of the mind symbolized by the Moon.
Positive energy. Radiance. The primordial light that puts an order in chaos. Growth. Superhuman Reason which inspires all minds. Spiritual light that diffuses the darkness. Apollo victorious over the serpent. True knowledge in which the imaginary notions of false prophecy disappear. Inspired enlightenment, poetry, fine arts. Brotherhood, harmony, peace, friendship, good understanding, judgment. Nobility, generosity, affection, the greatness of spirit. Paradise is recovered, calm and lasting happiness, marriages, joy in marriage, clarity of judgment. Artistic tastes and talents.
- Hebrew letter: Shin (mother): “Tooth” or “Fang.”
- Astrology: Pluto
- Element: Fire
Keywords: Awakening, Inspiration, Liberation, Judgement, Rebirth, Inner Calling.
Arcana 20, shows an angel surrounded by clouds, to blow the trumpet of the last judgment. Underneath, the tombs open up and naked men, women, and children rising from them, with their arms wide open, looking up into the sky with adoration.
Three rectangular coffins float on the sea. They are made of stone to represent the physical plane and rectangular for the 3 dimensions of this plane. The dead rise from their graves and all express their wonder and adoration. Observe the detail that rising people stand upright in the coffins. (Quiz: Test your Knowledge on the Hidden Meanings of Tarot)
Their body forms a right angle to the bottom of the coffins. This detail isn’t there at random, but to indicate their rise to the fourth dimension. Their bodies are grayish, to show that they are not in the physical plane of being. They are coming back to life, not in the body but in the spirit.
The trumpet refers to the correlation of sound (or vibration) with the life force and the seven rays that descend from the angel’s trumpet represent the chakras or the ” interior stars” of esoteric astrology. The vibrations coming out of the trumpet, received by the woman who is the active figure of the three.
The man does nothing, only stands with his hands folded in front of him. This scene shows that now the activity has been transferred from self-consciousness to subconsciousness. The child seems to form the sign of “Apophis the Destroyer” or “Typhon” and represents the rebirth that comes as the result of mastering the destructive principle, personified in Egyptian mythology as “Typhon”.
The square banner of the trumpet, with the red cross on it, is another reference to the fourth dimension. In the background, there are snow-covered mountains, such as the mountains in the cards of the Fool and the Hermit, and they represent accomplishment and success.
This card registers the accomplishment of the great work of transformation. We are one step behind the ultimate state of personal consciousness, which is represented by the last Tarot card. The difference between this card and the last is that, here there is still separation, which disappears into the perfect unity of the last card. (Also read: The Best Tarot Books For All The Occult Students)
New life. The Holy Ghost. Renewal. Awakening to spiritual life and participation in this life which is that of the great collective and permanent human being. Release from bodily ties. The breath of inspiration that fills the intelligence to do it discover the truth. Spiritual penetration, understanding, assimilation of inner thoughts, esotericism, spiritualization of matter. Alchemic sublimation. Inspiration. The man in communication with divine spirit. Divination, prophecy, spiritual clairvoyance, seeing into the future, literary or artistic genius. Enthusiasm, piety, spiritual religion, elevation of the spirit and the soul. Evocative power which makes the spiritual past come alive again. The resurrection of the dead who are worthy of being called back to life. Return to forgotten traditions. The second death, the door to integral initiation. Raising of healing powers and return to physical, moral and intellectual health. Liberation, freedom, separation from the mistakes. The wise judgment of posterity. Reputation, truth, noise, publicity.
21. THE WORLD
- Hebrew letter: Tau – In the primitive Hebrew alphabet, the Tau was represented by a cross (+). : “Signature” or “Mark.”
- Astrology: Saturn
- Element: Earth
Keywords: Completion, Reward, Fulfillment, Confirmation of success, Achievement.
As the signature makes any contract valid, so this last card of Tarot, corresponding to the Hebrew letter Tau which means “signature”, indicates the completion of the Great Work. The title of the last arcana is “The World”. This is a translation of the Hebrew word “olahm”, but the oldest meaning of the word is, “That which is hidden or veiled.”
The image depicts, a nude female figure, wrapped in a purple cloth and holding a wand in each hand. She is placed in the center of an elliptical laurel wreath and her legs are crossed, like those of the Hanged Man in the twelfth card. On the four corners of the card, there are the four animals of the Apocalypse the Man, the Lion, the Bull, and the Eagle.
Her head and her hands form a triangle pointing upward, while her legs form a cross. An image that indicates the alchemical symbol for Sulphur, a triangle over a cross. A symbol associated with fire, masculinity and the soul. The wands in her hands are the like the wand of the Magician, suggesting that the Magician’s work has now been completed. (Quiz: Test your Knowledge on the Hidden Meanings of Tarot II)
The laurel wreath is a symbol of successful accomplishment. Its cyclical form – elliptical if we want to be more accurate- indicates the infinite continuity of successful completion and new beginnings. To underline this concept, the wreath is fastened by two red horizontal symbols of infinite, at top and bottom. Moreover, this symbolizes that the power of the Infinite is brought into action above and below, i.e. in consciousness and in subconsciousness.
At the corners of the card, there are four figures, a lion, a bull, an angel and an eagle. These images are similar to those of “Wheel of Fortune”. They are associated with the four fixed signs of the Zodiac (Leo, Taurus, Aquarius, and Scorpio), as a representation of the fixed conditions in which all manifestation takes place. They are also symbols of the four elements, the four letters of the sacred name (YHVH) and the four symbols of the Tarot.
- The lion represents Leo – Fire – Wand – Yod.
- The eagle represents Scorpio – Water – Cup – He.
- The man represents Aquarius – Air – Sword – Vau.
- The bull represents Taurus – Earth – Pentacle – the 2nd He.
This is the final revelation, the consciousness realized the completion of the “Union”, the real purpose of being. This end is also a new beginning. The one who enters the perfect bliss and the perfect wisdom of this joyful state becomes one of those who know but cannot tell.
Confirmation of success. The ordered universe. Reign of God. Cosmos. The ideal Temple completed. Totality. Reintegration. Perfection. Integral knowledge. Dominant spiritual power. Ecstasy. Resolution. Apotheosis. Reward. Incorruptibility. Absolute integrity. Complete success. Achievement. Crowning of work undertaken. Atmosphere. Background favorable to a decisive outcome. Benefits from collectivity.
- Arthur Edward Waite, “The Pictorial Key To The Tarot” 1911 (aff.link)
- Oswald Wirth “Tarot of the Magicians” 1927 & 1985 (aff.link)
- Paul Foster Case “Introduction to Tarot” 1922 (aff.link)
- Papus “The Tarot of the Bohemians” 1896 (aff.link)