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(For a list of all card articles, open March 2008 on the sidebar).

Friday, 7 March 2008

The World

I turn
and my world follows me
you are the rainbow
and I am the white light
I turn my head toward the stars
I see eyes, see friendly faces
I see my self shine like they do
I see a world beginning
and I dance
and I am watching
as it watches me, I'm watching
and my light my self turns with me
and the world is dancing with me
time is stopping, starting, over
born anew
I'm falling upwards
I will be part of the new world
it will give birth to the new me.

It took a long time to get that out. Sticking words around the World is never easy, and rarely even pointful. It's like the Fool in that regard. The World is the best thing about tarot, and it's the reason why I've used tarot only irregularly since 2004.

I've been doing three of these a night, quite faithfully; the World alone has stopped me dead for two days. I've been wondering why I'm doing this - am I exploring, am I recording the knowledge I've gathered, am I engaging in pointless intellectual posturing? Am I looking for the dance again? (ideally: yes).

I grokked the World in bits and pieces, in 2004 and 2005. Hardly ever in the card itself - I'd see it in a shadow under a bus shelter, or in a class on Buddhist theology, at the end of a videogame, or in the words I heard before someone said them aloud. The card usually just gave me hints along the way, but there was one time - at 5.30am on August 25th 2005, when I hadn't slept, when I had a resit exam I hadn't revised for in three and a half hours, and I was going straight to the railway station from there - when I reached for a card, and knew it would be there before I turned it over. I won't say I haven't looked back since. I look back all the fucking time. I just don't need to, is all.

I am talking circles around her.

The form of the World is pretty consistent; a female, hermaphroditic or ambiguous figure dancing in a circle (often a wreath or an ouroboros); she is often dancing in the sky, with the world far below her.

(But the card is not The World-Dancer - it's The World. The character isn't the subject. The same goes for the charioteer, and the Lady. The subject of the card is the dance she's dancing, the surface she's dancing upon).

I think the World is easiest to find in that living circle - in the ouroboros that eats its own tail. There are times when the end of a thing has swallowed and satisfied its small beginnings; when something has ended in the same place where it began; when time is a circle instead of a line, and the cause of something seems to have occurred long after the consequences.

As I mentioned in the 2005 notes, there are some very, very good stories that do just that - come round to their beginnings and swallow them up. God help me, but I'm exhausted and I want to write something about The Joy here, but I can't think of a way to word it that doesn't sound completely stupid. Look, there's just this videogame - MGS3 - where one of the main characters is the World-Dancer, and she crosses lines that no one else will cross because she believes that the World is all one, and she dances in a field of white flowers, and you only realise out how it began for her once she's gone and the flowers turn red with her blood. That summer, I used to pass a church signboard on my way to work which read 'JOY IS NOT THE ABSENCE OF SORROW - IT IS THE PRESENCE OF GOD'. Because Jesus Christ plays Metal Gear. Because it's true and it's wonderful. The names of her allies were all explained and made into plot points - The Fear, The Fury, The Pain, The End, The Sorrow. Hers never was; the World-Dancer's joy is wordless, and it leaves you to draw your own conclusions, and find your own way.

All things are one thing, created in the same instant long ago, never truly divided, never changed, never taken apart. Knowing this will change the Fool forever - the World is not just self-awareness, but awareness of all creation. (And I was out here listening all the time).

Images of the World:

The Intuitive image.

Fuck me if this by Amano isn't Ama-no-Uzume. When Amaterasu (Amano's Priestess) hid in the cave, Uzume put a mirror against a nearby tree, got on top of an upturned tub, and started dancing. Dancing meaning stripping. The other gods gathered around her and laughed at her performance - Uzume's naked dancing wasn't sex, it was humour. Amaterasu stuck her head out to ask someone what the fuss was about. The someone told her that a new goddess had arrived, and pointed towards the mirror.

Amaterasu had never seen her reflection before. While she looked upon herself, the other gods blocked up the cave behind her.

Uzume, the World, will make you be aware of yourself, and of the radiance within you, and after that, there is no going back to the darkness.

(In the interests of full disclosure; I'm fond of Uzume because there is a spirit of dawn and mischief who appears fond of me and my dear ones. We call her Rori, and blame her for many things).

The Visconti-Sforza World shows its 'dancer' (not a dancer) floating above us, letting us be the object of the image.

Hermaphroditus is the Mythic Tarot World, and sie stands inside an ouroboros. Sie carries a wand in each hand - it's part of the dance, part of joy, not something to be used to convey power or authority (unlike the Magician's wand or the Emperor's sceptre). Most World-Dancers carry such wands.

The Roots of Asia World is an echo of the Roots of Asia Empress, whose body was the earth; here, the earth is shining through the belly of the World-Dancer - it's only one part of her greater whole.

'Completion' from the Osho Zen. The end of a jigsaw puzzle? It can be like that, sure. Like having finally built up the whole image, after starting from nothing. Having your hands empty for the first time in a long while.

What I said about The World in 2005 - Part I:

Because I've been stumbling about with academic Buddhism lately, The World appears to me to appeal to that special shiny tenet of Zen; that everyone, every being, is already in a state of enlightenment and just has to be made, by means of koans and Zen slaps and so on, to remember it. It makes sense to me; we have all the pieces already, there's nothing there we can't reach. Truth is about as much news to a life as the laws of motion are to a body; it already lives in it, it already knows, and it is more fully aware of what is and where to go the more the mind is stilled.

And like the Fool, she dances.

I've seen her once or twice...usually just out of the corner of my eye, hovering over the horizon. But not always. One or twice it's been full in the eye, and it's never, ever, ever what you expected. There's no point describing; it isn't about words. I think the attempted application of words actively made me lose it again at least once. Words are shallow little things, just a simulation of reality, and to see the World requires reaching past them.

Numbers, I think, might get a little closer. Making the World from things that add up to 21 is a nice little game; twist your head til the Tower and the Hierophant, or the Moon and the Empress, or Temperance and the Chariot are both the same thing and neither of them what you thought they were, and you might see it. Zen slaps work. It is absurdity that brings the walls down and makes the World beneath become visible, and it is in absurdity that it is most easy to find the connections. Like Schrödinger's Cat, really...if you try the whole reducio ad absurdam thing and it still works, perhaps even better than before, then you're touching something...

Maybe you just need to reseal that first crack between the Magician and Prietess; between all things being the same and all things being different. To that, the Fool says nothing and the World says everything, but even then they are one and the same.

Part II - ourobori [originally posted on my LJ] :

No, I don't care if I just made that word up.

There were three stories this year. I've been less of a media whore than usual (until recently - I've been playing videogames and going to the pictures, and reading a bit when I can), and these three, each of a different medium, have poked their scaled heads up and become keepers. The second I read in early June - a gift from Ashrose. It's called Prospero's Children, it's by Jan Siegel, and it ties a perfect closed loop. I don't know if there's a word for a story that, in ending, swallows its own beginning and transforms it, so I will keep to that image; the snake that eats its own tail. It's the creature that circles the World, stirring in the deep trenches of the sea or painted across the spine of the night sky. It is unity, and as it forms the barrier between the within and the without, it is division also. It is everything and everything outside everything. It is the beginning and the end that are both the same. It is continually overcoming itself and proving to be greater than itself.

It was a great book, not least in the way it made self-references to self-referrentialness. It was beautiful and true and a world I want to live in and, and, I need to write to Rose, I really do ;____;. [NB: three years on and I still haven't done it.] What was really interesting about my attitude to it was that it was not quite satisfying until the very last line, at which point it became totally and thoroughly satisfying, far more so than it would have been if it had been satisfying beforehand. Ouroboros; it ate its own tail.

I finished the book whilst waiting to get on a plane to something entirely new. I need to write to Rose. The third story was awaiting me on the other side of the water; I had to wade through a couple of other things to get there (a more complete story of my/our Metal Gear obsession will have to be told later), but yes, Snake Eater killed me. I remember awakening the next morning (it was a Wednesday) and feeling that now The Game was gone and I had an enormous void in my life and nothing I could do would be sufficient to fill it. That was, of course, when I first considered writing on Livejournal again, but London exploded the next morning and I had seikenshin, kitsunejin and hell_san all enquire after my health, not realising I was over four thousand miles away from London, and I realised I had too many things to write down and I couldn't be arsed. Nice, gave me more time to think about it all.

Which was good, because the ouroboros symbol I hadn't even properly noticed at that point. I should've seen it coming a million miles away, with a subtitle like Snake Eater, but I didn't spot the ouroboros reference til after I'd finished the game and, in the bath one evening, started thinking 'I need to write to Rose' again and then had it catch me upside the head. Muppet ;___; It's all over the place too - the name, the structure, the plot, even the Joy's (I refer to her as such because I like to) last speech, about consummation and continuation, about legacies and change, about the world. About the World. I thought, there and then, of the World-Dancer, but I somehow forgot the encircling snake til a couple of days later.

It killed my mind. Her refusal to accept the arbitrary lines across the earth, her giving and giving and giving, the white flowers; the joy. That's what I took from it most of all; that when there was nothing else, when you have given up all your knowledge, given up your body, your name, your life, what was there left, there among the white flowers? Joy. This is the World and before this year I had barely ever seen her, just flashes, glimpses; I thought her unillustratable but here she was illustrated and she completely killed me.

She killed me, but not before I'd killed her. So yeah, I beat the World-Dancer to a bloody pulp and then had no idea what to do with myself. But things came up - a lot of things, and I'll try to jot some of them down sometime soon, along with a lot more of the Metal Gear obsession, no doubt. Til then, be joyful.

(The first story was an album, Frances The Mute by The Mars Volta, who I get to go see on stage in a few weeks. Yey.)

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