Upright: Authority, father-figure, structure, solid foundation
Reversed: Domination, excessive control, rigidity, inflexibility
The Emperor is the complement to the Empress. He is the Masculine Principle, the Animus and the Patriarch. He represents power and authority, and his stern attitude is quite a departure from the sensual beauty of the Empress. The Emperor has a long, white beard, a symbol of his experience. As an archetype, it is common to see masculine figures of authority or father figures with long white beards. It suggests that this man has acquired years of wisdom and experience and he is worthy of listening to because he has seen first-hand the consequences of his actions.
Behind his throne are barren mountains and the throne itself is decorated with four rams’ heads, representing intellectual heights, determination, action, initiative and leadership. The ram is also a symbol of Aries, the astral ruler of the Emperor. In his right hand, the Emperor holds an Ankh, the Egyptian symbol of Life, and in his left is an orb representing the world over which he rules. The orange background and the Emperor’s red clothing symbolise his passion and energy for life and the challenges it offers.
The Emperor is the father figure of the Tarot deck. He is the ‘provider’ and protects and defends his loved ones. He has established a solid family line and is often seen as the patriarch of a wide network of family members. He offers guidance, advice and wisdom to others and in doing so, demonstrates authority and grounding. His wisdom is obtained through worldly, life experience. He has ‘been there, done that’, and has the battle armour to prove it. 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. He brings security and comfort to those around him.
The Emperor is also representative of structure and stability. He is able to create order out of chaos by carefully categorising his thoughts and mapping out what needs to be done to solve the problem. He is a systematic and strategic thinker and is highly organised and coordinated in his approach. He sticks to a plan and ensures he sees it out until the end. Thus, this card indicates that you have a strong desire to see your ideas manifested on the physical plane in the form of material gain or accomplishment. An opportunity will arrive that could be the foundation of a very successful future.
The Emperor reflects rules and regulations. He establishes law and order by applying principles or guidelines to a specific situation. He likes to operate within a defined structure with set boundaries. He respects routine and follows a specific regimen or discipline.
Domination of the mind over the heart is sometimes unwanted or best avoided but with the Emperor, it is necessary and even welcomed. If you are facing difficult choices, you must maintain your concentration and focus. Enjoy the assertiveness and confidence that this self-control and focus brings. Push ahead and do what you know is best. Know that if you can master yourself then you should have little problem mastering the world and everything in it.
The Emperor is a powerful leader who demands authority and dominance. He is most comfortable in a leadership role where he can command and direct others. He likes to be in a position of strength, where he can exert control and bring a sense of organisation to his activities. He often represents a solid establishment that is built on strong foundations. As a leader, he rules with a firm but fair hand. He will listen to the advice of others but he will always have the final say. He is not afraid of war and/or conflict and he will not hesitate to use his force and power to protect those he cares about. The privileged few whom he favours always repay him with the loyalty and respect he deserves.
The Emperor heralds status, success and recognition. You will have an earnest desire to be recognised as a strong figure of unquestioned achievement and authority. You will want to be known as the dominant force, the leader and the ‘expert’. Focus your attention completely on your goal and be very careful not to reveal any weaknesses or personal doubt.
Reversed, the Emperor can suggest that there is an over-use and abuse of authoritative power surrounding you at this time. He can be incredibly domineering and rigid in his thinking. It could be originating from you or from another person, often a boss, partner or a father-figure. There may be an insecure man throwing his weight around who has a need for control.
You may feel powerless when the Emperor reversed appears in a reading. Dealing with authority is fraught with difficulties at this time and whether this manifests as a dominant partner, problems with your father or battles with officials, you do not seem to be making any headway. Paradoxically, freedom lies within such structures now. This is not the time to rebel, instead try to get in touch with your own need to control events and deal with any problems logically.