The Emperor is the fifth card in the Tarot Deck. The first card is The Fool numbered 0, the second card is The Magician, the third card is The High Priestess and the fourth card is The Empress.
The Emperor is the archetype of the Great Father, rational, intellectual and a leader.
Many women have an innate problem with this card seeing it as overly masculine.
How can a woman relate to this card?
Ask yourself that question as you read along and I will give some tips at the end of the article.
Let’s look at the picture below of The Emperor. The picture is from the Rider Waite Tarot deck which was first published in 1909. It is a great deck for beginners because every card has a picture describing its meanings. Today the majority of Tarot decks are based on the Rider Waite deck. It is also a ‘deep’ deck because the creators of it put multi layered meanings inside it.
We see a mature man sitting on a stone throne. The color red, purple, orange and yellow dominate the card. The Emperor sits with an air of authority holding an Ankh in his right hand and a golden globe in his left hand. Behind him the nature is stark and without green (a contrast to the previous card, The Empress).
This man gives across an air of self-confident authority. Not someone to mess with. He looks like someone who rules and makes the rules.
The Emperor sits on a stone throne back straight. He looks directly into our eyes. His body posture is open – open to listening and receiving. His body posture also shows us someone with internal authority.
This man is confident with an air of authority. He also has a sternness in his facial expression and we can imagine that he can judge and make decisions without emotion when he needs to. This is not a man we could easily defy. In fact he appears a leader – someone to follow.
The Throne is made of stone which shows authority. It also reminds us of the material world. The Throne feels cold and can reflect a consciousness that can be devoid of emotion. Sometimes we need to make decisions from a very rational place and The Emperor is an expert at this. On the stone throne we see four rams’ heads which will be explained below.
We cannot tell if The Emperor sits on cushions but it is unlikely. Why would a man dressed in armor sit on cushions?
Crown on Head
The crown represents authority. The propeller looking symbol at the top of his crown is actually the astrological symbol of Aries. The crown is gold representing the Sun in Aries.
Ankh / Globe
The Emperor holds in his right hand an Ankh – the Egyptian symbol for life.
The globe held by The Emperor in his left hand represents the world and shows that The Emperor holds the world in his hand – he has dominion over the world. The Empress is one with nature, The Emperor rules over nature.
4 Rams engraved on the Throne
The Ram represents the astrological sign of Aries. Aries will be explained in more detail below.
Contrasting to the abundant fertility of The Empress, The Emperor has stark nature behind him.
The mountains show authority.
The mountains were also seen as the home of the Gods or King of Heaven. Moses went up a mountain to receive the 10 Commandments.
Mountains represent in our psyche a connection to the divine.
The water is a slow stream now. In The Empress card it was a flowing waterfall and cascading flow. The water reminds us that The Emperor has emotions too but not ones that overwhelm him.
Purple has traditionally been the sign of royalty and authority. Purple was an incredibly expensive dye to make from a particular shellfish that only resided in certain parts of the Mediterranean.
Red is the traditional color of the astrological sign of Aries. It is also the color of Mars, the planet that rules Aries. Red is the color of life force, passion and. The negative side of red is stagnation, anger and frustration.
The Emperor wears armor under his clothing. Armor protects us.
What does The Emperor need protecting from?
When we display authority naturally people rebel. Armor protects us physically and emotionally from the attacks and rebellion of others.
The Emperor is linked to all the father figure gods in story, mythology and religion – Osiris, Ra, Odin, Zeus, Jupiter, Yahweh, El, Marduk, Allah, Divine Father and great figures like King Solomon.
The Gods reminds us that we all have an inner spiritual side that is masculine.
They also remind us that to live in a material world we must have order and structure in the society we live in.
The number of The Emperor is 4. 4 is about stability, strength and things which are fixed. It rules the physical plane where rules and regulations keep order.
4 is about Stability. Think about a chair – it has four legs. It is stable. You cannot push a chair over with your finger. So too The Emperor is not easily pushed.
4 is the number of the material world and in Kabbalah 4 represents the Cube of Space (more explained below).
The planet Mars and the sign it rules, Aries is associated with The Emperor. We can see the symbols of Aries in the rams, symbol on the crown, color red and the armor.
In Astrology, Aries represents the Greek God Aries. Aries people are seen as adventurous, forceful, risk takers and lovers of new life. Aries energy rules the head and face.
In Astrology, Mars represents the Roman God Mars who is the same as Aries. Mars represents vigorous energy but when not controlled brings war.
The creators of the Tarot deck were members of the Golden Dawn, a group that had many teachings based on the mystical Kabbalah of the Jewish nation. When I say Kabbalah forget about monotheism, Judaism, God, and religion for a moment. Kabbalists are mystics in a sense. They believe God is neither male nor female and in fact has many aspects. Their systems are all about learning why we are here, the mystery of the universe and what the big plan is.
Inside the Rider Waite deck is a multitude of Kabbalistic meanings. I will briefly explain a few of the Kabbalistic meanings within The Emperor card. Believe me when I say you could learn for the rest of your life about Tarot and Kabbalah and still only scratch the surface. I’m keeping it superficial but easy to understand. I am also using on purpose the word Kabbalah rather than Cabala.
The Emperor is represented by the letter Heh from the Hebrew alphabet and it represents a window. We approve the world by looking through our mind and eyes. We basically project who we are out into the world. The Emperor represents Ego.
The letter Hey is the first letter in the Hebrew word for ‘The’. Therefore Hey has within it the definite article. Heh is also the first of the 12 simple letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Simple because the sound is singular and simple. So like Aries, the first in a series of 12.
The Emperor sits on the Sefirah Chokmah in the Tree of Life which represents ‘Wisdom’. The Emperor when balanced is incredibly wise. He brings into the world the Laws that keep the world balanced.
Kabbalists claim that The Emperor is the ‘Constituting Intelligence’- the maker of the laws and rules that govern the material world. Through the Emperor we have stability in everyday life.
When we vote in politics we hope to vote a balanced Emperor figure who will be just, fair and keep law and order.
KEYWORDS / KEY PHRASES
Mental control over emotional processes, reason, logic, order, leadership, authority, structure and laws. Stability, structure, responsibility and protection.
MESSAGE FROM THE EMPEROR
The Emperor wants you to know that in order to go out into the big world you need both inner and outer authority. Confident authority.
Inner authority to allow yourself to make the best decisions for yourself.
Outer authority in order to create your place in the world and be seen and recognized.
Ask yourself these questions:
Do I have an inner authority that I listen to?
Do I display authority in my everyday life?
Can I make decisions with logic?
Is my ego healthy and strong?
Do I have within me the qualities of a leader?
Do I have a routine and structure in my life?
Do I have healthy relationships with the men in my life?
Allow yourself to focus on the good aspects of authority.
As a women we can often feel the Emperor is cold, detached and unemotional. Some Tarot decks such as the Mother peace (one of my favorite decks) depicts the Emperor as a patriarchal figure. This is indeed one aspect of The Emperor but not the only one.
As women we can educate men how to treat us. We can stand up against abuse, rape and dominion. We can set the rules for ourselves. We can teach our sons to respect and love females. We can teach our daughters to respect themselves. It’s not just up to men to change patriarchal systems in the world – it is also our responsibility.
First however we must heal our relationship to the male energy in our lives – both inside and outside.
We can locate our own inner male (animus) and work with him to be more balanced within ourselves.
THE EMPEROR REVERSED
When I see a reversed card I simply see the energy blocked or inhibited in some way.
How would The Emperor be inhibited?
If you get The Emperor reversed for yourself or someone else some questions to ask might be…
Do I feel weak inside?
Do I have issues with authority?
Am I easily bullied or walked over by others?
Do I have issues with my Father?
Do I communicate well with my partner / husband?
Is there a lack of order in my life?
Do I make harsh decisions without emotion?
Am I dependent on others when I could be independent?
Am I an ineffectual leader?
Am I procrastinating in my life?
If you get The Emperor reversed it is warning you to wake up and take authority over your life. You are the master of your destiny. If you feel you cannot do this then seek out help – healing, psychotherapy or mentoring. Sometimes we need a mentor or life coach to help us find routine, order and authority in our life.
TO SUM IT ALL UP…
The Emperor invites you to meet your inner masculine and heal it. He also invites you to heal all your pain from experiences with males.
When we integrate The Emperor in a healthy way we are the leaders of our own life with clarity over our emotions and internal processes. We are independent, responsible and autonomous.
The Emperor Major Arcana Card:
By Pamela Coleman Smith – a 1909 card scanned by Holly Voley (http://home.comcast.net/~vilex/) for the public domain, and retrieved from http://www.sacred-texts.com/tarot (see note on that page regarding source of images)., PD-US, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17299571
By Georges Biard, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26508514