Tarot Cards – The Emperor

Son of Morning: Chief Among the Mighty

Card Number: 4
Key Number: 15
Rulership: Aries
Hebrew Letter: Heh
Translation: Window
Numerical Value: 12

Divinatory Meaning
Upright – Competitiveness, forcefulness in development and execution.  Authority, structure, governmental and corporate identities.  Worldly power, self control gained through experience.  Ability to shoulder responsibility. Powerful individuals, ambition together with the possibility of long term achievement.

Ill Dignified or Reversed – Loss or dislike of authority, corporate governmental or parental.  Immaturity and indecision.  Weakness, manipulative friends or colleagues.

Further Interpretation:

The second leg of the Body-Mind-Spirit triad is the Emperor, representing the power of the mind to shape the world. Such action does not take place at the command of the will, but through the command of the spoken or written word. The Emperor is the representation – and the ruler – of the structured and regulated world. This is an ideal world like the Empress’, though one that is not always as beautiful or lavish. But just because it is more harsh does not mean it is any less necessary to enlightenment; on the contrary, it is completely necessary to balance Mind and Body, male and female.

The Emperor is the opposite of the Empress in many ways. She is the Mother, he is the archetypal Father, wise in the ways of the world and knowledgeable of how to live as part of a structure along with everyone else. The Emperor does have a strong and powerful heart, as every father should, but he shows this side of himself through the imposition of strict guidelines and rules, as most fathers do. If anything he is even more protective than the Empress, because he has created order from chaos and wishes nothing to disturb that order. Underneath his royal robes hides the suit of armor which he proudly wears when defending those under his protection.

The Emperor teaches us many things, the first of which being that every rule has an application and a reason for being. If we can understand this, then his world may not seem so restrictive after all. In fact, all restriction is ultimately for your own good, because without the law and order that this card so powerfully symbolizes, the world would fall into anarchy. Government and law both draw their power from him, but unlike the governmental figures that we hear so much about in modern times, the Emperor cannot be corrupted by power. He rules like King Arthur, who brought together the warring powers of England and knit them into the greatest empire the world has ever known.

He is truly the master of his realm, and he rules with a firm hand, but a just one. He will listen to the counsel of others, though the final decision is always his. War is one of his many tools and he will not hesitate to use violence to protect those he cares about. The privileged few who are subject to his protection always repay him with the loyalty and respect he deserves. But the Emperor’s power does not only extend to the controlling of nations. He is also the father, the male role model who offers advice, sets direction and brings security. He takes what he has learned, and passes it on to the next generation, so someday they can be as wise and powerful as he is.

Any of the Major Arcana can represent people, but the Emperor is the kind of energy that often manifests in the form of a person. Obviously all kinds of leaders and fathers will harbor some of his influence, but he can also show someone who acts like a father by setting tone and imposing structure. He is a regulating force and thus associated with the government, bureaucracy and the legal system; his appearance often indicates an encouter with one or more of these systems. The Emperor can also personify the assumption of power and control, by you or someone close to you. If you are the one in power, take care that you always use it wisely.

Above all else, the Emperor shows the benefits of structure and logic ruling over the emotions and lesser desires. Often, domination of the mind over the heart is not wanted, but in some cases is it necessary and even welcomed. When hard choices must be made it’s important to maintain your concentration and focus, and this is something the energy of the Emperor allows you to do. When he shows a part of you, let that part of you manifest and take control. Enjoy the assertiveness and confidence it brings. Forge ahead and do what you know is best. If you can master yourself then you should have little problem mastering the world and all the things in it.

James Rioux (The Black Shadow), bshadow@nbnet.nb.ca.
Copyright 2000 James Rioux.