from "The Whole Shebang" by Grant Lee Buffalo
Last week, I—and millions of my fellow Americans—watched the moon move across the face of the sun in a solar eclipse. It was my first experience with totality, with sudden twilight in the middle of the day. As the sky deepened to indigo and the cicadas started keening and the temperature dropped and sunset glowed in every direction, I could understand how ancient humans thought the world was ending.
I was lucky enough to know better. Science told me what was happening, and I trust science. This didn't lessen the awe I felt as a profound reverence overtook me. Yes, the world would go on. It would spin on its slightly canted axis around the flaming ball of hot gas that makes life possible, and the moon would spin around it in a clockwork ballet. Pas de deux and elliptical orbits, poetry and math dancing together. And there I was, a tiny speck of me, right at the heart of it. Just like you.
And that is the secret of The World, the paradoxical idea that the universe has as many centers as it has souls. But then this is a card of paradox. The world dancer exists in stillness and movement simultaneously, her feet firmly grounded on thin air. She inhabits the circle without end under and above twin infinity loops, and she is surrounded by four figures, one in each corner—a human, an eagle, a lion, and a bull—representing the four fixed signs of the zodiac, the four elements, and the four suits in the tarot (this is the squared circle, which is itself a symbol of paradox and mystery). She is alone, yet she is not alone (she is also not necessarily a she; in many interpretations, the figure is hermaphroditic, which further adds to the mystery of this card).
The World may look familiar to you, even though this is the first time it has come up here. If so, gold star for you—this card has many similarities to the Wheel of Fortune, which came up two weeks ago. Both cards feature a central image surrounded by the same four figures in the corners. There's one big difference, however—we are separate from the Wheel, at the mercy of its risings and fallings, unless we can find the still place at the center. That still place is The World. Here we are an inextricable part of everything. We are complete. We are the World. You are. I am. That guy over there? He is too.
So what does this mean for you this week? Traditionally the World foretells a time of culmination, a sense of integration, finality, and achievement. That's certainly true for me—I am preparing to send in final edits on my sixth book and that's definitely feeling worthy of a hallelujah chorus or two. Whatever it is that's coming to a satisfactory close for you this week, take some time to enjoy and celebrate it. Seriously. Take time. Snatch it out of the maw of routine. Hallow that accomplishment with your attention.
And remember, you are part of something very big and wonderful. In fact, you are something very big and wonderful. Claim every scrap of it. The whole shebang. That's the lesson of the world, and it's as big as...well, everything.