A stately figure, seated, having rich vestments and royal aspect, as of a daughter of heaven and earth. Her diadem is of twelve stars, gathered in a cluster. The symbol of Venus is on the shield which rests near her. A field of corn is ripening in front of her, and beyond there is a fall of water. The sceptre which she bears is surmounted by the globe of this world. She is the inferior Garden of Eden, the Earthly Paradise, all that is symbolized by the visible house of man. She is not Regina coeli, but she is still refugium peccatorum, the fruitful mother of thousands. There are also certain aspects in which she has been correctly described as desire and the wings thereof, as the woman clothed with the sun, as Gloria Mundi and the veil of the Sanctum Sanctorum; but she is not, I may add, the soul that has attained wings, unless all the symbolism is counted up another and unusual way. She is above all things universal fecundity and the outer sense of the Word. This is obvious, because there is no direct message which has been given to man like that which is borne by woman; but she does not herself carry its interpretation.
In another order of ideas, the card of the Empress signifies the door or gate by which an entrance is obtained into this life, as into the Garden of Venus; and then the way which leads out therefrom, into that which is beyond, is the secret known to the High Priestess: it is communicated by her to the elect. Most old attributions of this card are completely wrong on the symbolism – as, for example, its identification with the Word, Divine Nature, the Triad, and so forth.
RWS Empress symbolism
Rider-Waite Empress divinatory meanings
Fruitfulness, action, initiative, length of days; the unknown, clandestine; also difficulty, doubt, ignorance.
Light, truth, the unravelling of involved matters, public rejoicings; according to another reading, vacillation.
NIGHT Obscurity, Darkness, Lack of Light, Night Scene, Mystery, Secret, Mask, Hidden, Unknown, Clandestine, Occult. Veil, Symbol, Figure, Image, Parable, Allegory, Mystic Fire, Occult Science. Hidden Machinations, Mysterious Intervention, Clandestine Actions. Blindness, Confuse, Cover, Wrap, Difficulty, Doubt, Ignorance.
Etteilla: reversed meanings
Day, Clarity, Light, Brilliance, Splendor, Illumination, Manifestation, Evidence, Truth. Clear, Visible, Luminous, Grant the Day, Seize the Day, Make Public, Make Appear. Pierce, Coming of Day, Brightened Up, Acquire Knowledge. Expedient, Easiness. Opening Up, Window, Gap, Zodiac.
If the Hebrew letter Gimel means the throat (as a canal for sound) and also “the hand of man half closed in the act of prehension” (P.), then it may indeed well stand for the house of Gemini as for no one else; because Gemini is the macro cosmic ‘relation between the two’ which is potential vibration, symbolised by ‘sound,’ and this sign rules the hands of man, with which he grips this relation actually. It rules the ‘Word, which was with God in the beginning’ and words, speech and correspondence in this world below, as above. It means cognisance, from which science may spring later, but it is not science itself. Nor is it ‘action’ (M.), though it is the origin of, sometimes the pretext for, activity. But it includes indecision, uncertainty, doubt, change, intercourse, reflection, appearance and everything that the sign Gemini may further communicate.
3. L’Imperatrice – Paul Foster Case
Even Papus, who was led astray by the mistaken attribution of the major trumps to the Hebrew alphabet, perceived that L’Imperatrice is a symbol of Venus.
3. L’Imperatrice – well-dignified
The divinatory meanings of the card all correspond to the astrological significance of that lovely planet. They include: Fruitfulness, Beauty, luxury, pleasure, success and happiness.
3. L’Imperatrice – ill-dignified
But if the card is very badly placed in the layout it is like the afflicted Venus in astrology, and then signifies Dissipation, lust, waste of time and substance in pleasure, laziness and sensuality.
III – THE EMPRESS
Nature in its phenomenal aspect. The ever renewing and re-creating force of Nature. The objective reality.