If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.
~ Henry David Thoreau
After all these years, for only the second time ever, this week of the Full Snow Moon we are graced with a visit from The Emperor. How rare, and how perfect!
First, let me be candid. A lot of people don’t much like this stiff-necked looking authority figure that appears in the Rider-Waite-Smith Major Arcana.
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. Tarot scholar and deck creator, Robert Place, notes even more of The Emperor’s Aries/Mars energy, as evidenced by the red cloak he wears.
The landscape is rocky, austere, and Robert calls him “the martial” Emperor, as his sits his stone throne in full armor.
The Emperor does not look particularly happy, does he? But is he really a tyrant? Admittedly, he is still in his armor, ever vigilant for battle. After all, emperors only get to be (and remain) emperors by subjugating kingdoms.
But I think there is lots more to him.
I have gotten to know him as far more than an Alexander, Caesar, Sun Tzu, or modern-day combatant who climbs to the top through war, scheming, conflict, and domination.
(Although, okay, yes, I have met a few Emperor Soul Card people who fit such a description. But certainly not all; not even most!)
I also see his potential as an Arthurian figure – the visionary leader who would unite the petty kings and warring factions in order to protect the peace and build prosperity for all. In other words, despite the severity of his countenance in the R-W-S deck, I think that at heart, The Emperor is an idealist.
But he is no beautiful dreamer like The Fool (who he is connected to, through the numerology of the Major Arcana). He has not only envisioned castles in the air, he has the discipline, pragmatism, and drive to build the foundations beneath them.
Like T. H. White’s Once and Future King, he believes in “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 decides to use that system to bring about the greater good.
The Emperor represents establishing, building, and doing. He uses force if necessary to protect the rule of law. He makes the rules, forms, structure, and institutions of worldly power. And he insists on excellence, starting with himself.
The Timing of the Emperor’s Visit
Astrologer Elisabeth Grace notes that this week’s patterns are relatively light (compared to some of the other weeks we’ve slogged through), except for the Valentine’s Day Leo Full Moon, which suggests “the potential for illuminations in relationships.”
Perhaps that new understanding may involve who wields the power in our relationships.
The Emperor hates being bossed, but is never passive-aggressive. He is that part of ourselves that knows how to communicate clearly, directly, and from the expectation that we are the recognized authority.
Our Emperor self will collaborate and cooperate with those who have earned our respect as equals. But he will not be ruled.
And speaking of authority, Pat Paquette writes that on Tuesday, “The Sun in Aquarius squares Saturn in Scorpio. This is a classic configuration for clashes with authority and authority figures.”
So, this week, you may find yourself dealing with others in charge. Perhaps you will have to navigate your way through some bureaucratic chain of command.
Or you may have issues with the people you report to at work or school. You may find that it is increasingly difficult to take orders, especially if you have questions about their competence or the validity of their superior role.
What Kind of Leader Are You?
On the other hand, have you ever thought about your own leadership style? How comfortable are you with sharing your authority? Do you find it easy to delegate, or do you sometimes micro-manage, or find yourself taking back the task because only you know how to do it “right?”
What boundary issues do you need to resolve once and for all? And in what ways is it time to get better organized?
There are lessons to be learned here about how to use less emotion, more logic. The Emperor encourages us to “play the game,” and play it for keeps. With his influence, we can find that clear, firm decisions will create more stability in our lives.
May this card’s royal perspective inspire you to be the sovereign of your own life, and build the foundations for the castles you hold most dear.