The Emperor


Tarot Card Meanings for the Emperor

shadowscapes tarot emperor card

authority ~ structure ~ responsibility

Keywords for the Emperor
Authority, order, structure, authority, your boss, leadership, your father, the establishment, promotion to a senior role, asserting yourself, ambition, law and order, taking a stand, firmness with others & yourself, rational thought, responsibility, stability, fairness.
The Emperor Reversed
An autocrat, control freak, a weak man, a cruel man, an underachiever, support withdrawn, laziness, abuse of power, lack of discipline, lawlessness, immaturity, no promotion.
The Emperor as People
Fathers, senior politicians, businessmen, senior partners, heads of family, heads of state, hoteliers, big business, CEO’s, financial controllers, department heads, the boss.

Who is the Emperor in the Tarot?

He may be your father. He may be your boss. He is the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom*. He represents order, structure, discipline and masculinity in its natural form. He is the true alpha in the room, dominant but not domineering. People are drawn to dominant types in a natural ordering of the tribe and so he is a natural leader and he makes it look effortless. If you know of a male above you in your world who does not depict these traits, he is an Emperor in name only, with no disrespect to him at all. He is not a natural alpha, few are.

For men, this can be an intimidating role to aspire to. But for women, it can be an asset to tap into. For those of us who are driven by their hormones, emotionally sensitive, empathic and gentle, life can be hard and it can hurt. When you feel this, meditate on the Emperor and his natural qualities to remind yourself that your gentleness is not weakness and that people can only treat you badly if you let them. So don’t let them. Tap into the Emperor and his infinite reservoir of self-belief, determination and power.

As a depiction of order, structure and discipline, you may see the Emperor in a tarot reading because you need to embody these qualities within your life or the situation you find yourself in. I often get this card when I need to knuckle down and get things done. The discipline here then, becomes self-discipline which enables us to forge through the obstacle before us, which are often our own issues getting in the way.

Ruled by Mars, planetary representation of the Greek god of war, the Emperor has a rigid reputation. It is, after all, his nature. I will draw your attention then to the Rider Waite-Smith version of the card and the river that runs behind him. It’s almost missable, but it’s there. Amid the arid landscape of this fire card, water runs through it reminding us that despite his reputation, the Emperor is capable of empathy and compassion. He won’t present with that first, but at a deeper level, he will respond with it. This humanises him and makes him approachable.

The Emperor is the embodiment of the four king cards from the minor suits. Like the Empress in this regard, the Emperor shows the totality of the character traits of the kings and the four elements they depict and represent. To visualise the interconnectedness of this pair, the Emperor is the architect and builder, and the Empress is the interior designer and homemaker. He brings safety to her, she brings comfort to him. Traditionally these are clearly defined roles, the masculine and the feminine. If you see things more fluidly, feel free to define these two cards as you see them, but seek to understand them from their origin.

*at the time of writing.

Correspondences for the Emperor

Key 4
Element Fire
Astrology Aries
Mar 21 – Apr 19
Numerology 4
related to 13, Death
Count 12 – Zodiacal Trump
Yes/No Yes

Posts Featuring the Emperor

See how numerology brought the Emperor into a reading where he was absent from the spread, and what difference his nature made to the advice given in the Daily Tarot Spread.


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