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
For only the third time ever, this week when the Sun leaves Aquarius and moves into Pisces, we are graced with a visit from The Emperor. Yes, another Major Arcana in a year that has been unusually busy with them.
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 deck.
In Pamela Colman Smith’s rendering of The Emperor, the landscape is rocky, austere, and unforgiving. Note that the rams’ heads of Aries are carved on his stone throne and upon the shoulder of his robe.
His red cloak is further evidence of his Aries/Mars association. It only barely hides the fact that he is ever vigilant, wearing his full battle armor.
The Emperor does not look particularly happy, does he? After all, emperors only get to be (and remain) emperors by subjugating kingdoms.
Like all of the Tarot cards, there are positive and negative potentials. And for the larger than life Emperor, his shadow side is hard to miss.
When distorted, his Big Daddy ego can be overblown and disrespectful of others. He can become too fond of his power, and treat others as unimportant pawns in his (or her) grand scheme of conquest.
I bet we all have met a few Emperor Soul Card people who behave as they are royalty, entitled to ruling everything and everybody. (Like, yes, you guessed it, Donald Trump).
But The Emperor is not always a tyrant. He need not always be an Alexander, Caesar, Sun Tzu, or modern-day combatant who climbs to the top through war, scheming, conflict, and domination.
I also see his potential as 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.
He is the ideal of the good father-figure. And like T. H. White’s Arthur in 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
Since The Emperor’s astrological correspondence is Aries, which is ruled by Mars, it would be valuable to see what the red planet is currently up to. Annie Heese at Cafe Astrology explains:
Mars is in Scorpio from January 3-March 5.
In Scorpio, Mars is driven and focused on getting what it wants. We are persevering, single-minded, and strong. The desire to experience our emotional depths, as well as the urge to penetrate the surface of life in order to explore deeper levels of existence, is powerful.
We are fascinated with what others tend to repress, and are drawn to experiencing and understanding these things. We are less inclined to avoid important issues now.
In some ways, we are attracted to crisis, as we see crisis as transformative and emotionally exciting. We would rather feel extreme emotions than nothing at all, as mediocrity or the “middle road” is felt to be unsatisfying.
And as Diotima Mantineia notes in her newsletter this week:
With Saturn and Uranus in a flowing trine aspect, this week would be a good time to carefully consider all the underlying structures of your life (mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical), face up to what’s no longer working, and consider your alternatives.
Right now, Mars in Scorpio offers us courage to face our fears and take on what we’ve been avoiding. (Like that pile of tax stuff. Sigh.) There are opportunities to create lasting change and set up systems that work.
The Emperor is a savvy and powerful ally when it comes to structure, and we would do well to invite him to assist us.
Do You Know the Emperor?
The Emperor has a strong masculine energy, but can definitely apply for women, especially for entrepreneurs and independent-minded people of vision and ambition.
He 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 know what we’re doing.
Our Emperor self will collaborate and cooperate with those who have earned our respect as equals. But he will not be ruled.
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.
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? With the Virgo Full Moon next week, and the Mercury retrograde shadow period finally over (as of the 14th), it would be an auspicious time for putting your work, your priorities, and your house in order.
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.