Inspiring Enchantment & Illumination with Tarot & Intuitive Guidance

We Welcome the Year of the Emperor – Part 1

Contemplate thy powers, contemplate thy wants and thy connections;
so shalt thou discover the duties of life, and be directed in all thy ways.

— Akhentaton (1380-1362 BCE)

As you may know from being in my Birthday Club in years past, or from taking my classes, or from the many articles I have published, the numerology of your birthday, or of a particular year, corresponds to the Tarot, particularly the Major Arcana (the trumps). Using this system, we can learn about some general traits and patterns that can be anticipated in a given year.

This year, 2011, is 2+0+1+1 = 4. So we welcome the fourth Trump card of the Major Arcana. Welcome to the Tarot Year of the Emperor.

Who Is the Emperor?

The Emperor, in my opinion, gets a raw deal. A lot of people don’t 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 the sign of Aries carved on the throne and upon the shoulder of his robe. Aries is the God of War, and it is the first sign of the zodiac, coming at the Vernal Equinox, initiating the astrological new year.  So the Emperor is force, aggression, and the awakening of the life force in the Spring.

Another indication of the Emperor’s Aries/Mars war God energy is evidenced by his red cloak and tunic.  His landscape is rocky, austere, and Tarot scholar and artist Robert Place calls him “the martial” Emperor, as his sits upon his stone throne in full battle armor.

The Emperor does not look particularly happy, does he? But is he really a tyrant? Yes, it’s true that under his cloak, he is still in his armor, ever vigilant for battle. After all, emperors only get to be (and remain) emperors by subjugating kingdoms.

But there is so much more to him!

Many years ago, in a powerful trance journey, I spent time getting to know the Emperor. As a result, I now experience him as far more rich, complex and multidimensional. He is not simply an Alexander, Caesar, Sun Tzu, or modern-day combatant who climbs to the top through war, scheming, conflict and domination.

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 “might for right” – with all the weighty responsibility and worldly care that such a role brings. He understands how the real world of power and politics works, and so decides to use that system to bring about the greater good.

Despite the severity of his countenance in the R-W-S deck, I believe that at heart, the Emperor is an idealist. But he moves beyond being the beautiful dreamer that is The Fool (who he is connected to, through the numerology of the Major Arcana).  Like the quote by Henry David Thoreau, he has not only built castles in the air, he has built the foundations beneath them.

The Emperor represents establishing, building and doing. He uses force if necessary to establish the rule of law. He makes the rules, forms, structure, and institutions of worldly power. And he insists on excellence, starting with himself.

Tomorrow, I’ll share more about what we might expect in a Tarot year of the Emperor, so see you then!

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  • January 6, 2011, 6:28 pm Regina

    I like the depiction of the Emperor in the Lewellyn Tarot – he sits relaxed (but in armor) on his throne, with his shield beside him. He definitely looks like someone you shouldn’t take lightly, but more than that, he looks like someone you can confide in and who will give you very wise counsel.

    2010 was definitely an Empress year for me, so I’m really interested to see how this Emperor year plays out!
    Thanks Beth!

  • January 6, 2011, 11:36 pm judy

    I usually think of the Emperor as ‘Good Male Energy”.
    My favourite Emperor card is Lunaea’s… Sean Connery in a bathrobe!!
    That’s my kind of Emperor.