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Tarot 101 – The Emperor: Authority, Structure, and Leadership

The Emperor is number 4 in the tarot deck and is the next logical step in the Fools journey as they move forward from the Empress.

Intuitive Interpretation

If the Empress embodies the ultimate Mother the Emperor is the ultimate Father, benevolent and loving, always there to give advice and guidance.

The Emperor can represent an actual person who embodies all the qualities we associate with strong, healthy, father figure.  This someone could be your rock, someone you know without a shadow of a doubt you can rely on not matter the situation.  You need advice on how to navigate a situation, this is the person you go to.  You need help figuring out your taxes, this is your guy or if you simply need someone to help you trouble shoot or bounce ideas off of, he’s your man. That being said, this person may not be a man but rather someone who exudes a calm, stoic, grounded energy.  Someone who make you feel safe and protected.  That is the energy of this card

When this card appears, it could also be referring to you depending on where it appears in your reading.  Its placement could be letting you know that YOU are these things to others.  Or, it could be urging you to become this for yourself, telling you that you need to start channeling these strengths yourself because you have other that are depending on you and it’s time to step it up and maybe even grow up a bit, no one is going to pay your bills for you.

On the flip side, where the Empress can be smothering and over protective, the Emperor can be domineering, demanding and unforgiving if his word is not followed.  The individual this card could be referring to could also be the embodiment of toxic masculinity, and that is not just regulated to the males of our species, this card could be asking you to check yourself to see what toxic traits you may be exhibiting in order for you to correct them.

Traditional Meaning

The Emperor can reflect a system bound by rules and regulations as well as world knowledge and expertise gained by years of experience.  There is a wisdom in the Emperor that has been hard won and when they give you advice you can be sure that it is something that they have learned first hand themselves.  The advice they give has been thoughtfully considered.

Traditionally the Emperor can represent bosses, coaches and teachers, or even a good friend who has your best interest at heart.

The Emperor represents a powerful leader that expects their authority to be respected and their directions followed.  Those that express the traits of the Emperor have a clear vision on what they want to achieve and while they may rule those around them with a firm hand in order to achieve that vision they are also a fair leader.

At times this card can represent power that has gone to one’s head, they start believing their own hype and when that happens the Emperor can be come rigid in their thinking which can cause them to abuse the power that they have over those around them.

Fierce Love,


*The deck used in this series is the Everyday Witch Tarot by Deborah Blake.

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