At the beginnings of tarot history, this card probably depicted Christ triumphant (the symbolism of the four creatures, representing the four evangelists, is consistent with this, as is the reference in the Steele sermon which glosses the World card with “that is, God the Father”). A very early version of the Tarot de Marseille indeed shows a male figure on this card, posed and draped much like the female figure of later versions.
Whatever the origins of this image, it speaks to us today of the integrated spirit, a person whole and centered and at peace with the cosmos.
The four figures around the outside (in addition to their connection with the evangelists) represent the fixed signs of the Zodiac (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius), and hence the four seasons of the year. The card thus conveys the wholeness and completeness of nature’s cycles.
Whenever I draw this card, I consider it a profound blessing. It reminds me that I am at home in the world, at home in my life, and that the sacred is always present, always permeating everything. As advice, it can suggest a need to breathe deeply, meditate, and put your worries into perspective.