Now this is interesting! Here is one of the very few cards that has never yet come up since I began pulling our Card of the Week on New Year’s Day, 2005. The timing is notable, as this week, the United States celebrates its birthday, in an extremely important year of leadership change.
And only a few days ago, I had a very lively discussion with several women about this very card. They were disappointed to have learned that that the Emperor was their Soul Card. They did not much like the stiff-necked looking authority figure that appears in the Rider-Waite-Smith deck.
In Pamela Colman Smith’s rendering of the Emperor, we see the rams’ heads of Aries carved on the throne and upon the shoulder of his robe. The marvelous Tarot scholar and artist, Robert Place, notes even more of the Emperor’s Aries/Mars energy, as evidenced by the red cloak he wears. His landscape is rocky, austere, and Robert calls him “the martial” Emperor, as his sits his stone throne in full armor.
He does not look particularly happy, does he? But is he really a tyrant? Yes, it’s true that the Emperor is a warrior. Emperors only get to be emperors by conquering (or at least dominating) kings.
But there is so much more to him! I experience him as more than the powerful conqueror, like Caesar or other modern-day warriors who thrive on domination and control. I also see him as an Arthurian archetype – the visionary leader who would unite the petty kings and warring factions in order to hold the peace and build prosperity for all. He is a “might for right” kind of guy – with all the weighty responsibility and worldly care that such a view brings.
The Emperor represents establishing, building and doing. He indicates the rules, forms and institutions of worldly power. And he represents father energy, both how we experienced our fathers, and how we share the qualities of fathering in the world – the protector, provider and disciplinarian for our families and for ourselves.
This week, we are offered, for the first time in this series, the Emperor’s gifts of power and authority. We are invited to build, choose, and make something powerful and important in the world. He teaches us leadership, discipline, logic and reason, inventiveness, and making responsible choices.
This week, you may have issues and reminders that come up regarding your own father, even if he is no longer living. You may also have an encounter of some kind with authority figures. Pay attention that you not turn bossy, or tyrannical. Instead use your power gently, with honesty and integrity. The wise Emperor knows exactly who he is, and the vast reach of his power, but rarely needs to “pull rank” in order to get the job done.
Finally, the Emperor is who motivates us to use our time on this earth to leave a lasting, valuable legacy. What will you do in the days ahead to leave your mark in the halls of time?
Hecate is a protector of women, mighty advocate for the disenfranchised, and She who guards the crossroads. It is She who teaches us the ancient Mysteries.