Tarot Meditation: The Emperor

Posted: December 4, 2015 in Spiritual Journey

RWS_Tarot_04_EmperorIt’s hard to put into words how stark the contrast is between the figures of the Empress and Emperor. The Emperor is immensely severe. There is no hint of any plant or animal life. He sits upon a stone throne decorated with carvings of rams’ skulls (or possibly goats… I’m not a zoologist). The throne sits before a backdrop of rocky mountains. There is a near uniformity, the reddish sky, brown mountains and throne and the red colours worn by the Emperor. It’s similar to Justice in having a feeling of authority and violence.

Whereas the Empress is youthful and welcoming the Emperor is old, white-haired and exudes a feeling of inflexibility and watchful anger. The watchfulness also comes across in the many sets of eyes present in the skulls adorning the throne. The skulls appear to watch in every direction. The Emperor’s legs are visible and are clearly clad in armour. His robes are raised a little higher than most figures, perhaps to give the impression of imminent movement, that he could rise in an instant to strike someone down. If I were in a particularly political mood I’d say the watchfulness, authority and uniformity in the card all have echoes of fascism or at least authoritarianism about them.

The Emperor carries classic symbols of office, a rod and sphere. The rod resembles either a highly stylised person standing arms outstretched, or possibly an inverted sword. His crown features five visible jewels. About his shoulders is a cloak that’s draped asymmetrically. There are hints of a symbol on his left shoulder (my right) but I cannot make sense of it.

In th Emperor we have embodied an inflexible authority, hinting at violence and a sort of permanence. This is what has always been, underlying everything else, the bedrock of all other endeavours.



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