easy tarot lessons


The Emperor Card Meaning

The Emperor Card can be referred to as the Patriarch. As The Empress is representational of the prime maternal energy and the matriarch of the Tarot, The Emperor Card is its father, grandfather, judge, jury, and executioner.

This man’s authority is absolute. The inclusions of kings and queens and emperors into the Tarot reminds us that it was created in a time long gone, one where kings and queens lorded over all of the other residents of an area, usually under the guise of “protection.”

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The Emperor Description

Quick! What do The Emperor Card and The Devil Card have in common?

(Hint: They are both allegories for authority figures and you have probably worked for both of them at one point.)

Okay, so this guy is not “pleasant,” but he is “the boss.” He sits on his stone throne bearing the symbols of Aries (the astrological sign, not the god). He is the prime patriarch in the Tarot. His rule supersedes even the Kings of all of the suits because the emperor in any feudal “empire” is the overlord, not just the reigning monarch of a particular province. This is a man of action: scarlet robes, burgundy sash, armor worn on the throne, and attentive posture that is poised to spring at any moment.

Esoteric Interpretation

This stigma continues to this day in multi-national corporate autocracies and plutocracies, where high-level executives have taken the place of their more transparent feudal counterparts. These systems of “government” survive because they work.

As a group, such as “the general public” for instance, people like having someone in charge, someone they can rally to, or against, someone who will make the decisions that very few want to make on a regular basis. Someone to blame when things don’t work. Thus, this outdated throwback to some political neolithic age will never go out of style. We will always need someone to tell us what to do and to complain to when someone does it (what we are “not supposed to do”) to us.

Traditional Meaning

Government. Any male authority figure: boss, judge, executive, decision maker, father, Cardinal (priest). This is the card of judgment or command (lawsuit, parking ticket being issued, summons, meeting with a “superior,” etc.) and also of the person or authority behind that command or judgment (e.g., “the IRS”). In still other words: it is the act of being told what to do, and the person who tells you to do it. As harsh as this may seem at first, it is this very structural dominance that makes this the card representational of the person or authority you would go to when you seek grievances against oppression or abuse.

As a quality in a person, this card speaks of leadership ability, resoluteness of mind, capable use of logic and command-decision ability. This is not a person easily swayed by random emotions nor sob stories. A good manager, a reliable person of great character. As an action, this could be the issuing of a decree, or sagely advice. The Emperor implies the experience of age; and if this card is well aspected, then wisdom accompanies that experience.

Traditional Reverse Meaning

Tyrants, dictators, corrupt public officials, vastly overpaid bosses. Also overregulation of a situation, micro-management, abuse of power and authority.