The Empress is the fourth card in the Tarot Deck. The first card is The Fool, the second card is The Magician and the third card is The High Priestess.
The Empress is the archetype of the Great Mother, creativity, fertility and abundance.
Lets look at the picture below. 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 young voluptuous woman sitting on luxurious cushions on a throne. She wears a crown of stars. Around her neck is a necklace of pearls. Her dress is white and covered in red pomegranates. In her right hand she holds a wand. At her feet to her right is a stone love heart with a symbol inside. The nature around her is rich and abundant – trees, nature, wheat fields. A flowing stream/ waterfall flows nearby.
This woman has inner and outer wealth. She embodies the archetype of mothering, fertility and abundance.
We sense she has all the riches in the world simply because she is creative and abundant.
The Empress sits serenely. Although she is sitting, her posture feels active – as if she will start speaking to us any moment. Her back is straight but her body language is open and welcoming.
This woman is confident. She knows who she is and what she wants in life. She trusts in the abundance of the universe. This is a woman who appreciates chocolate and wine!
The Throne is made of stone which shows authority. However the Empress makes sure she is super comfortable by having lots of pillows around her. The Empress loves her body and luxury is important to her. We see on the black pillow behind her the symbol of Venus repeated over and over again. Venus will be described more below.
Crown on Head
The crown represents authority. It is also composed of two parts – a laurel wreath and 12 stars, each one has 6 points. The laurel wreath is an ancient Greek symbol of authority. The 12 stars represent the 12 signs of the zodiac. The zodiac/ astrology are all the celestial bodies deemed to affect our life. This puts forward the theory that The Empress not only represents the earth we live in, but the universe itself.
Each star has six points and many today would recognize it as a symbol of Judaism. However the six pointed star is more ancient. I remember hearing a long time ago that the upward pointing triangle represents the male (phallic) and the downward triangle represents the female (triangle of pubic hair) and together they are equal.
Wand / Sceptor
The Empress holds a wand in her right hand meaning she has conscious awareness of her influence over the fertility and creativity of the universe. It also denotes power and authority.
The globe on the top of the sceptor represents the globe of the world. The Empress is in fact, ‘Gaia’ -- Earth Mother.
Stone Heart with Symbol
The stone heart represents the heart of the mother which is strong and protective. The symbol is the astrological symbol of Venus, the Roman goddess of love, abundance and beauty. The green inside the symbol is the traditional color for Venus.
Where The Empress exists, life exists. The Empress represents growth and fertility. It is only natural then the fertility of the earth was closely linked to the fertility of the woman. The Cypress trees behind The Empress are the trees sacred to Venus.
Water is the essence of life. Without water we cannot survive and the earth would be a barren rock. Water symbolizes life just like The Empress.
For a woman to give birth, her life nurturing internal waters must ‘break’ or flow free to release the new life within.
White Robe with Red Pomegranates
The Pomegranates represent fertility. The Empress has a white virginal gown with the pomegranate symbols. Note that the shape of the pomegranate is in the shape of the Venus symbol.
The wheat field represents agriculture. The Goddess ruled the earth and its abundance and certain goddesses ruled wheat such as Demeter, Ceres and the Virgin Mary.
The Empress is linked to all the mother and fertility goddesses in story and mythology – Ceres, Corn Mother, Durga, Demeter, Gaia and Astarte, to name just a few. The Empress is also linked to the love and sensuality goddesses like Aphrodite, Ishtar and Venus.
The Rider Waite Empress Major Arcana card have many symbols of Venus. Venus was the mother goddess of all the Romans.
The Goddess reminds us that we have all the abundance and growth within us – we simply need to remember this.
The number of The Empress is 3.
Number 1 represents male, number 2 represents female and together they create a new life – 3.
3 is about Harmony and balance. Pythagoras considered 3 the first real number since it could take the physical shape of the triangle. (Remember the 6 pointed star is 2 triangles intersecting).
Many religious traditions have trinities of holy figures within them – Christianity, Hinduism etc. Father, Son and Holy Ghost, Isis, Osiris and Horus.
Many Goddesses also have three aspects to them – Maid, Mother and Crone.
Women also have three phases of their life biologically – pre-fertile, fertile and after fertility ends. All aspects are equal and feminine.
The planet Venus is associated with The Empress. In Astrology, Venus represents the basic emotional tone and nature. Venus rules over self expression, imagination and creativity.
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 Empress 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.
The Empress is represented by the letter Daleth from the Hebrew alphabet and it represents a doorway. The Empress is the doorway to life through the womb/vagina and also the taker of life through the earths destructive force. There is nothing worse than the anger and vengeance of a Mother. The Empress sits on the Kabbalistic Tree of Life on the path that joins Hokmah (Father of fathers) with Binah (Mother) and Crowley (a famous occultist) claimed that this implied that the foundation formula of the universe is LOVE.
Kabbalists claim that The Empress is ‘The Constant Becoming’ and the ‘Luminous Intelligence’.
KEYWORDS / KEY PHRASES
Feminine, Sensuality, Creativity, Fertility, Earth Mother, Nature
MESSAGE FROM THE EMPRESS
The Empress wants to let you know that right now you are pregnant with the possibilities of life. Now is an amazing creative time that the universe is sending you. Allow yourself to soak up all that the universe wants to give you.
Ask yourself these questions:
Do I give time and space to my creativity?
Do I respect my body and give it what it needs?
Do I nurture myself?
Do I understand how my body and hormonal system works?
What is my relationship to Mother Earth?
What is my relationship to myself?
Allow yourself to soak in the rich wealth of the Empress. Learn how to love yourself 100% as she does. Seek to respect your body in every way possible as it is a temple in honor of the creator.
THE EMPRESS REVERSED
When I see a reversed card I simply see the energy blocked or inhibited in some way.
How would The Empress be inhibited?
I would imagine that she is frustrated and cannot manifest or make things happen. She is probably not in love with herself or life and feels bitterness and resentment. She probably feels that the world is giving her a hard deal. Everything feels blocked.
If you get The Empress reversed for yourself or someone else some questions to ask might be…
Do I hate my body?
Do I disrespect myself for being a woman?
Am I finding it hard to be creative?
Am I having fertility issues?
Am I feeling a lack of abundance in my life?
Am I having issues with Mothering?
Do I have anger, resentment and hurt towards my Mother?
Do I feel my hormones and my body control me?
Am I rejecting my emotions and body wisdom?
If you get The Empress reversed it is warning you to wake up and listen to your body and emotions. Are you ignoring something important in your life? Are you denying yourself the gift of nurturing and giving it too much to others? The Empress is an empty vessel if she cannot sit on her luxurious cushions.
TO SUM IT ALL UP…
Dive into the abundance that the Universal Mother wants to give you.
Tap into your creative potential and grow the fertility within you.
Know what you love, nurture it and reap the benefits.
From the earliest times, women all around the world have worshiped the Great Goddess. Some of these statues from archaeological digs show her exaggerated fertile features. As women, we often forget how special we are (Men are special too of course!) and the ancients knew this truth. We are truly amazing! We create, grow and nurture life itself. Whether we have children or not we are the ultimate reflection of the planet.
The High Priestess and The Empress are two aspects of the feminine – the unconscious, mysterious side and the conscious emotional earthy side. Together they make a full woman. The Empress can teach you how to get in touch with your earthy, sensual, feminine side.
There is a Greek legend that emphasizes these two aspects of the feminine and their connection -- the legend of Persephone and Demeter. The festival of their story became famous over time and was known as the Eleusinian Mysteries. To understand The High Priestess and The Empress and their archetypal relationship to each other you should check out the myth.
Watch this short video where Goldie Hawn the actress talks about the legend of Persephone and Demeter.