Card Meaning: IV The Emperor
Hebrew letter: Heh, ה
If we are to know The Emperor, first we must know
The Empress. There is an obvious contrast between the
two. We can say that in a way they complement each other. The Emperor sits serious and uprightly, upon the comfortless
throne of a granite while The Empress leisurely lies on
a soft and comfortable
chair. Lifeless rocks fill the background of the card. He holds a glass ball in
his left hand and an Ankh cross in right. A crown on his head shows his authory.
The Emperor is the law and rationality, konwledge and consciousness. He is a more
mature version of The Magician. Where
The Empress and the High Priestess have
rich symbolism, the symbolism of The Emperor is actually very simple. While
Empress is focusing on her feminine side, creativity, wisdom and
subconsciousness, The Emperor brings all that in the conscious realm and enforce
structure and control. The granite and rocks behind the emperor signifies solid,
fixed state. The Empress card is full of plants, life and fluid lines, it's all
about change, growth and progress. The Empreror is constant. His card signifies
the law, and true laws are not subjected to change, they are eternal. Both are
working together, one representing the Nature and the other representing
civilization, structure and order. The Empress is shown as being always young
and caring, The Emperor is shown ancient, strict and wise. The Emperor brings
stability, endurance but also a danger from stagnation. The two rams on his side
shows authority, masculinity through the astrological sign of Aries. There is a
glitch of dictatorship in this picture, thirsting for war and power. The Emperor
is about control and accepting control for the higher good or changing
circumstances against all odds. It is no coincidence that the number of this
card is number four, the number of material world. This card signifies the
methods and ways to get the things done in the material universum.
As The Empress card, the symbolism of this card hasn't
endured much change. Most of the changes applied to this card in the past actually had their
causes in changes involving other cards, usually when there was a
censorship on Papess (The High Priestess) and the Pope (The Hierophant). In some
Italian decks The Emperor is numbered with number three because Papess was
removed from the deck and in some decks The Emperor was replaced by the card Moor.
In readings The Emperor is very clear. It is all about authority, power and
discipline. There is a need for self-control to show power and attain goals.
Mind over matter. Base your decision on a firm foundation. Maybe some conflict
is needed for victory? Maybe some leadership is needed to resolve situation?
Some man of authority might help you and stand by you in your endavours. This
card has potential to manifest authority so if it appears in reading, there is
a good chance that you can resolve situation by your presence alone. Negative
aspect of this card can show failed ambitions or abuse of power. Sometimes
indicates plans falling apart, distraction from greater goals, loss of
discipline or struggle with authorities. Also, try to make decision on sound
principles, review your plans and modus operandi, be realistic.
rams, throne, crown, spectre and ball
The Emperor is the older, wiser version of
The Magician, he is sitting firmly on his
throne. The throne has a distinct blockish character. Manifested in conscious
material universe, the throne with four side clearly symbolizes our human
perception and interaction with the world. We know about four sides of the world,
four elements and four winds. Four corners of the world is echo of the number four
of the card. His throne is also decorated with rams' heads. Significance of the
first astrological sign of Aries is obvious. Male, strong principle is a
lightmotif of this card. The big, granite throne gives us a sense of
immutability. The laws that this card signifies are not changed easily. Those
are not petty human rules on day to day basis, they are the higher laws in this
realm. The scepter in his right hand is Ankh, a symbol of life. In his left hand
he holds a glass ball, representing the world and his rule over it. He is
obviously in some sort of the mountains in the rather lifeless surroundings indicating
a seclusion from
the realm he controls. Explanation is maybe found in Hebrew letter of this card,
Heh, that stands for a window, indicating that through "window" he sees and controls
the world outside of his abode. On a personal level it can be explained through a
window of perception that every one of us has and use to experience the life. If you
look carefully you will notice the subtle indication of river, the same river
that is in The Empress card. This is a strong message that there is no
separation between the nature and the higher law.
He has a form of the Crux ansata for his sceptre and a globe in his left hand. He is a crowned monarch--commanding, stately, seated on a throne, the arms of which axe fronted by rams' heads. He is executive and realization, the power of this world, here clothed with the highest of its natural attributes. He is occasionally represented as seated on a cubic stone, which, however, confuses some of the issues. He is the virile power, to which the Empress responds, and in this sense is he who seeks to remove the Veil of Isis; yet she remains virgo intacta.
It should be understood that this card and that of the Empress do not precisely represent the condition of married life, though this state is implied. On the surface, as I have indicated, they stand for mundane royalty, uplifted on the seats of the mighty; but above this there is the suggestion of another presence. They signify also--and the male figure especially--the higher kingship, occupying the intellectual throne. Hereof is the lordship of thought rather than of the animal world. Both personalities, after their own manner, are "full of strange experience," but theirs is not consciously the wisdom which draws from a higher world. The Emperor has been described as (a) will in its embodied form, but this is only one of its applications, and (b) as an expression of virtualities contained in the Absolute Being - but this is fantasy.
— The Pictorial Key to the Tarot, by A.E. Waite