I love it when I draw a card that I have never drawn before! It gives me an opportunity to not only learn something new but to also become more acquainted with an aspect of the Tarot I am a little less versed in. Today I was lucky in drawing The Emperor, for not only have I yet to draw him in my daily draws, but he has also never come up in any of the readings I have done!
The Emperor is card number four in the Major Arcana and is usually paired with The Empress as the two major archetypes of Feminine and Masculine parental energies. They represent parents in their archetypal forms. While The Empress can represent Mothering qualities, The Emperor is said to represent those qualities we link to Fathering. Protecting and Defending, providing Security and Comfort, emphasising Structure and standing out as an Authority figure. Now of course these qualities are not purely ‘Masculine’ or related to a ‘male father figure’, but being established during traditional times when the sex roles were stricter, The Emperor is usually seen in this way. He represents Structure, creating Order out of chaos, Regulating and other such systematic qualities to balance out the free-flowing, loving energies of The Empress. And while The Empress signifies the natural world, The Emperor caries with him the wider significance of the social world, the laws of society and the powers that enforce them.
The traditional representation of The Emperor is that of a stern looking older male, wearing a red robe over a suit of armour, sitting upon a rigid throne. His posture and position epitomises stability, and his confident direct gaze speaks of authority. When I look at this card I see someone who knows his place in that world, someone in a position of strength where they are able to exert their control and establish structure and stability. In The Fool’s Journey, the Fool comes across The Emperor and his associated energies around early childhood, after leaving the protective nurturing arms of his/her mother. He comes across structure and order when he begins to learn more about the world around him. And at some point he comes across rules and the people in authority who enforce them. At first he finds it frustrating and restricting having only experienced the flowing love of The Empress. But eventually he comes to terms with these qualities and comes to understand their importance.
I feel so much energy when I look at the Shadowscapes interpretation above. There is something about the card that emanates strength and stability. Instead of the normal stern man in armour, here we see the Horned God in a loose red robe. The Horned God is a deity of both Wiccan and Pagan decent, who was seen as the masculine side of divinity. Here we see him rooted to the ground. If that doesn’t say stability then what does :P. He is literally rooted to his place. This also represents how he, as The Emperor, is stuck in his ways and views, and how he can sometimes represent an establishment built upon strong foundations. The Emperor is firm in his beliefs, believing that his way is the right way! He represents a systematic approach to things, a strategic thinker who is highly organised and can create order in chaotic situations by carefully categorising and establishing what it is that will solve the problem.
In the Shadowscapes card he holds an orb with what looks like a Dragon inside, possibly representative of all the wisdom he has gained from his past experiences. I think it is also representative of a core of power that he holds in his centre, knowing he can call on it at will. The horns upon his head to me link to Aries, representative of solar energies, of power through thinking and rationality. And if you look closely, there is an Ankh hanging from one of his horns, which is the Egyptian symbol for life. Among other things I feel this is a suggestion from The Emperor to take our duties and responsibilities seriously, for life is always hanging from the threads of fate, always hanging in the balance. And it somewhat looks like The Emperor is positioned into a Ankh himself, with his arms the horizontal bar, and horns forming the circle. Under the law he bear the power over life and death.
One of the most predominant and in my opinion important images in this card is the stone wall and circular carving located behind The Emperor. There are so many symbols in the carving, ranging from the Eagle, Stag, Dragon and Ram representing Strength and Power, the Sun, Mountain and Castle representing Stability, and the Snake, Greenman, Moon and Butterflies representing Change, Rebirth and Transformation. This is the domain over which The Emperor holds dominion. Looking at the wall as a larger picture it is representative of how man strives to tame the world around him by creating a structure where he can feel in control and safe. It also represents how by carving this into stone we are saying that we have power and control over these creatures. By creating a structure of our own we know we will be in control! Widening this out even further I think this links to how The Emperor can be representative of a just society, where members work together and benefit from the experiences of one another. The natural world is chaotic and dangerous, without a semblance of structure we would be fighting our way through life day by day, trying to survive. But in a structured society we can prosper.
I think it’s important here to note that while some structure is good, providing the stability we may need to progress through life, too much structure can cause cracks like those in the carving. If we try too hard to control a situation we may in fact, simply by striving for stability and structure, cause the whole thing to collapse into a pile of rubble. This brings up the darker negative side of The Emperor where control and authority can become too confining and result in a breakdown of stability. So when you find The Emperor’s energy present in a situation ask yourself, is this structure helping or hindering me? If it’s helping, well keep going, your on the right track, but if it’s hindering then maybe take a leaf out of The Fool’s book and add some spontaneity to the situation and let go of control.
Until next time, live well xx