XXI The World
Teresa Taranto
Tales from the Arabian Nights

This is the card that traditionally represents triumph in all undertakings and attaining all that you desire. It is a very good card in a spread as it infers success and reward that comes from struggle. It represents the freedom to move ahead and change, and also the ability to make others happy. This card also signifies coming full circle, overcoming obstacles and gaining some truth or reward in the process. It is the path of liberation. It is admiration of others. It is the arrival at a state of cosmic consciousness.

I used images from the Tales From the Arabian Nights and in particular the character Shahrazad who is able to liberate herself and her captor from a state of violence and transform their life into something beautiful.

In Tales from the Arabian Nights , a mythical king of India returns from a trip, to discover his wife's infidelity. Consumed with jealousy and rage, he raises a scimtar and cuts her and her lover in half in a single blow. Henceforth, he only weds virgin brides, beds them a single night, then beheads them the next morning thereby eliminating any future sexual betrayals. Of course the king's murderous actions threaten all the girls in the kingdom so something has to be done. Shahrazad, the clever daughter of the king's vizier voluntarily weds the king. She strikes a bargain and delays her beheading until she has finished telling the king a story. Knowing that the king likes a good tale, Shahrazad is able to spin a story or series of stories since the tales all spiral into each other--as one ends a new one begins (just like things in life). These tales include Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, Sinbad's Voyage, Aladdin's Wonderful Lamp and many others that we have come to know. Consumed with curiosity to see how the story ends, the king keeps delaying the beheading. In this manner for one thousand and one nights, Shahrazad is able to delay her death, bear the king three children, gain his confidence and cure him of his insanity. The king thus convinced that her heart and spirit are true, and himself quite in love with this beautiful and clever woman by now, proposes marriage to Shahrazad and she accepts of her own free choice. Her brilliant mind and courageous heart saves a kingdom and Shahrazad, now the king's righteous queen, lives happily ever after in the king's palace with their children.

Symbols found in the image:
Shahrazad holds in one hand Aladdin's magical lamp (hope) and the king's ruby (heart). Her forehead is adorned with a gem representing the mind's eye. Four mystical characters from the Tales from the Arabian Nights are used to represent the fixed signs of the Zodiac and the four elements: the camel (beast of burden) for Taurus and earth, the Arabian Horse (power in the dessert) for Leo and fire, the Roc (giant bird from Sinbad's Sea Voyage) for Scorpio and water, and the genii (magical humanoid who can grant wishes) for Aquarius and air. They show that spiritual reality is unchanging. The planets that are in the sky represent the cosmic cycles of a physical world that does change. The King's castle is the known world on one side of the card, balanced by the cave of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves representing the unknown. In this card, it is the blending of the opposites that lead to the final state of cosmic consciousness, the supreme good which is the end of all means.

XXI - The World

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