Too Much and Not Enough?

William Wordsworth definitely had his finger on the pulse of what the World (or Universe) card used to mean before Arthur Edward Waite turned it into an icon of glorious fulfillment:

“The world is too much with us; late and soon”

In modern divinatory practice, it is almost invariably seen as an expression of satisfactory completion, and nearly as positive in its operation as the Sun. But a different perspective is furnished by trying to reconcile the idea of a successful denouement with the esoteric correspondence of astrological Saturn, the uncompromising “Taskmaster” and the “Great Teacher,” for which “waiting” is a fundamental quality. The advice might be to pause in the rush to closure and examine any lessons learned, potentially gaining more mileage from the experience. In some cases the “burden of success” may be greater than the advantage gained, and the valuable message in the card would be to take it in stride. “Be careful what you wish for” and “You may get more than you bargained for” are other pertinent bromides.

It should be noted that only Waite saw it as a manifestation of “the rapture of perfection.” In the Golden Dawn and Thoth systems, the defining and limiting qualities of Saturn loom large. It was considered to reflect the “end of the matter” or “crystallization of the matter,” in which everything becomes resolved (but not always in a salubrious way). If the situation has been disorganized, it may come together in a coherent whole that could just as easily be objective and impersonal as individually rewarding. “What’s done is done” could be the most useful take-away from the encounter, or maybe the old Paul Masson ad slogan is even more instructive: “no wine before its time;” in other words, take the long view and don’t expect instant gratification. As is often the case, Aleister Crowley took a more sinister view of the potential consequences: “May mean delay, opposition, obstinacy, inertia, patience, perseverance, persistent stubbornness in difficulty.” It’s a good idea to take  a moment to reflect before automatically jumping to a favorable conclusion when this card appears in a reading.

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