The Emperor Tarot Card Divinatory Meanings

The Emperor represents authority figures such as the Father, your boss, head of an organisation, or the alpha male. This is a person who gives orders and expects them to be obeyed. Don't expect fun and frolicking when the Emperor appears. Everything is too serious. When the Emperor is not living up to his ideals, then ASBOs are the order of the day. He becomes immature, childish and petulant, refusing to follow orders. There is a lack of respect for authority and standards. When the Arian qualities are strong, the Emperor is good at starting things, but do not expect him to complete the actions.

Rider-Waite: The Emperor

EmperorHe 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.

Emperor card meanings

Stability, power, protection, realization; a great person; aid, reason, conviction; also authority and will.

Emperor reversed card meanings

Benevolence, compassion, credit; also confusion to enemies, obstruction, immaturity.

Book of Thoth: Emperor

Emperor tarot cardUse all thine energy to rule thy thought: burn
up thy thought as the Phoenix.

War, conquest, victory, strife, ambition, originality, overweening confidence and megalomania, quarrelsomeness, energy, vigour, stubbornness, impracticability, rashness, ill-temper.

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Golden Dawn - The Emperor

Son of the Morning, Chief among the Mighty

War, conquest, victory, strife, ambition.

Mathers: The Emperor

Realization, Effect, Development.

Mathers: The Emperor reversed card meanings

Stoppage, Check, Immature, Unripe.

Etteilla: Support

Aid, Prop, Flying Buttress, Column, Base, Footing, Foundation. Principle, Reason, Cause, Subject, Stability. Assurance, Persuasion, Conviction, Surety, Security, Confidence, Certainty. Help, Assuagement, Assistance, Protection. Relief, Consolation.

Support reversed card meanings

Protection, Influence, Benevolence, Kindness, Charity, Humaneness, Goodness, Commiseration, Pity, Compassion, Credit. Authorization.

Thierens: IV. The Emperor. Cancer.

There is much more mystery buried in every symbol than words spoken can tell. Superficial consideration might make astrologers wonder at this image, which assimilates worldly power with the sign Cancer instead of with Leo, to which they are accustomed. Still there remains this to be taken into account, that originally 'emperors' got their power from the people, — China, Rome — long before they began to claim God as their private protector against eventual aggression from outside. The people are ruled by the sign of Cancer, says the astrologer. And thus originally the chosen emperor accepted vox populi as vox Dei. This chosen dignitary was nothing of a tyrant, originally, nor did he have anything to do with rulership or warfare: he was simply the highest and most pure expression of the soul of the people or nation. In China sometimes a poor but extremely virtuous old man without any other antecedents was elected to be emperor. All later usurpations of power and succession were deviations from the old and pure institution. The present position of the president in a republic comes very near to that of the original emperor.

The sign of the soul indeed is ... Cancer. At the same time this is the sign of the breast (P.) and of the womb, as W. translates this passage about the card, which P. says is connected with the Hebrew letter Daleth. In the older pictures we see the effort to let the man make a figure 4 or something like the symbol for Jupiter with his crossed legs. There may be some meaning in it, but this seems futile with regard to the general significance of the Emperor as the representative of the past, of memory, tradition in the people and in family life, dharma and the real motives of the soul in the background of life, which actually rule life. It relates ..to every inner power of the soul from which outer activity (karma) will arise.

In different editions of the cards we find different sorts of sceptres in the hand of the Emperor. In some there appears also an eagle. We prefer the sceptre which Mr. W. puts into his hands: the crux ansata, symbol of the might of inner life, which rules matter. The planet Jupiter has only to do with this card, in so far as it is exalted in the sign Cancer, which means, that virtually hopes and expectations as well as ideals for the future take their origin in the deep-rooted attachments of the soul, which themselves are the expression of dharma or cosmic memory.

Still in a personal way the Emperor indicates the father of the querent, because it is from his father that his soul derives its elements. Compare in the horoscope the IVth house. Therefore this seemingly very feminine sign was symbolised by a male figure, while the seemingly male messenger was represented by a woman. The Empress indicates the spiritual parentage, the Emperor the physical one. The latter finds its counterpart (physical mother) in the Xth house, as is well known.

Some authors say this card means 'realisation.' That is correct so far as this word means an inner realising of the significance of outer facts: the gathering of the harvest of experience, which will become the store of memory.

4. L'Empereur - Paul Foster-Case

This card, corresponding to the letter Heh, first of the 12 simple letters, is related to the Martian sign, Aries. As Mars represents the basic force in Aries, we can see why the card corresponding to this sign bears a title which implies that its central figure is the consort of L'Imperatrice. For in mythology and in astrology, Venus and Mars are closely related, even as imagination (Venus) and action (Mars), act and react upon each other. Furthermore, in the astrological signs, Aries, the home of Mars, directly follows Pisces, the sign in which Venus is exalted.

L'Empereur - well-dignified

Mental energy; foresight, supervision, oversight, control; reason, persistence, determination; ambition, leadership, enthusiasm.

L'Empereur - ill-dignified

Strife, anger, tendency to go to extremes; over-active; lack of discretion.

Ouspensky: Card IV - THE EMPEROR

Tetragrammaton. The law of four. Latent energy of Nature. Logos in the full aspect with all possibilities of the new Logos. Hermetic philosophy.

After I learned the first three numbers I was given to understand the Great Law of Four - the alpha and omega of all.

I saw the Emperor on a lofty stone throne, ornamented by four rams' heads. On his forehead shone a golden helmet. His white beard fell over a purple mantle. In one hand he held a sphere, the symbol of his possession, and in the other, a sceptre in the form of an Egyptian cross - the sign of his power over birth.

"I am The Great Law," the Emperor said. "I am the name of God. The four letters of his name are in me and I am in all.

"I am in the four principles. I am in the four elements. I am in the four seasons. I am in the four cardinal points. I am in the four signs of the Tarot.

"I am the beginning; I am action; I am completion; I am the result.

"For him who knows how to see me there are no mysteries on earth.

"I am the great Pentacle.

"As the earth encloses in itself fire, water and air; as the fourth letter of the Name encloses in itself the first three and becomes itself the first, so my sceptre encloses the complete triangle and bears in itself the seed of a new triangle.

"I am the Logos in the full aspect and the beginning of a new Logos."

And while the Emperor spoke, his helmet shone brighter and brighter, and his golden armour gleamed beneath his mantle. I could not bear his glory and I lowered my eyes.

When I tried to lift them again a vivid light of radiant fire was before me, and I prostrated myself and made obeisance to the Fiery Word.