The Emperor: Meanings and Combinations

Upright: Powerful, authoritative person. Experienced and skillful professional.  Authority, the powers that be.  Sponsorship, patronage. Father or tutor figure, judge, established laws. Solid and/or traditional partner in a relationship. Virility, fertility in a male.

Reversed: Tyranny, oppression. Dominant father, tutor or boss. Abusing power. Failure due to lack of an effective guide or leader. Immaturity, lack of personality. Abusive or violent partner. Infertility in a male.

Combinations: With Justice, strict respect to the laws. With the Fool, controlling impulses or intuitions with reason.  With the High priest, obeying social rules.  With the 2 of Wands, authority that protects.

The Emperor: Father Figure

I will be your father figure
Put your tiny hand in mine
I will be your preacher teacher
Anything you have in mind

Father Figure (written by George Michael)

I have called this post “Father Figure” but on looking at this stern figure with a white beard (a traditional symbol of wisdom and old age) sitting on a throne, many would say that it doesn’t evoke the love and emotions associated with parenthood.

Nevertheless, fatherhood lies at the bottom of this card: the Emperor’s throne is adorned with ram’s heads, a traditional symbol of male fertility. He is indeed a warrior king, as is shown by his armour and by his crown,   very similar to a helmet,but he is a warrior in order to protect his people.

In his hands we can see a ball and a scepter; the ball, like the one on the Empress’ scepter, is a symbol of universal power; the scepter is shaped like the crux ansata, the symbol of Goddess Isis. Waite points out that the Emperor is the one who tries to lift the veil of Isis, but she remains a virgin- that is, she keeps her secret. That is why the Emperor needs the Empress, they complement each other; he has the warrior force, that orders and organizes the fertile creation that the Empress gives birth to. They are Father and Mother to Universal Wisdom, and the arid background around the Emperor shows that he will always need the fertility from the Empress’ womb.

Serious, maybe harsh, but reliable and loyal; a father you can always count on even if he grumbles at you and delights in lecturing. The Emperor is a recognisable father figure behind his impressive imperial costume.

The Empress: Meanings and Combinations

Upright: Intelligence, creativity, giving birth to new life or new ideas. Fertility, pregnancy. Woman or man with a strong practical sense or who can put ideas into practice easily. Abundance or prosperity in business. Satisfying sexuality. Fulfilling love or friendship.

Reversed: Manipulative person who dominates somebody through emotional bonds (parent, spouse) and doesn’t allow them to evolve or develop. Lack of ideas. Infertility. Miscarriages, abortions, unwanted pregnancies. Pleasure in excess which makes us forget work.

A few combinations:

Next to the Moon: infertility or unwanted pregnancy. Project with problems.

Next to Lovers: Happy relationship with sexual fulfillment.

Next to the Star: Inspiration from a mother figure.

Next to the Emperor: Perfect partnership in love or business.



The Empress: No, her first name ain’t Baby

 

Empress

 

No, my first name ain’t baby,
It’s Janet… Ms. Jackson if you’re nasty

(Janet Jackson, “Nasty” Written by J. Harris and T. Lewis)


It would be very easy indeed (specially for “nasty boys” like the ones in Ms Jackson’s song) to think that the Empress is a “sexy baby” in every sense of the expression. She is obviously young, and beautiful;her figure, even if she seems to be pregnant, is sensual under her long dress; her throne is made of cushions and the shield that bears her arms is heart-shaped and carries the sign of Venus (the Marseille Empress has an eagle). Yes, it would be temptingly easy to see the Empress as somebody else’s wife, lady-love, courtesan…

But several symbols have been added in order to warn us that to think so would be an obvious mistake. First,  we must take a look at the crown on her head, formed by 12 stars, in an obvious allusion to Virgin Mary and the quote we already saw in The High Priestess post. The Empress, according to Waite, is not Queen of Heaven like Mary, because she belongs in the material world, but she is “Mother of Many” just like her. Motherhood is a key word with the Empress. Pregnant, surrounded by a field of wheat (just like Demeter, Greek Goddess of Agriculture, who also was a mother) she represents the power of creating- not just new life, but art, inventions, ideas, everything that is new.

 

She is holding a scepter in her hand. As Janis Joplin put it , “everything’s a phallic symbol if it’s longer than it’s wide”🙂 but in this case I think the phallic symbology is not out of place, as the scepter has been traditionally a symbol of male power, held in this case by a female hand and attached to a golden ball, symbol of world rule. The Empress holds the scepter because she wants to make clear that the universal power of giving life is hers. That is the same reason why her symbol, the symbol of Venus, is inscripted on the shield instead of the masculine eagle. The pattern of pomegranates, a fruit that symbolyzes wisdom and royalty, on her dress, is another sign that warn us of the nobility and power of this figure.

Behind her, according to Waite, we can see Paradise, the one Adam and Eve lost. The Empress is guarding the entry, but she’s no Eve; she is Paradise itself incarnated,as Waite points out; all the richness and possibilities of this world are in her,  not waiting passively to be won, but inspiring and helping us develop and become more than we are.  We only need to let her guide us on our way.


The High Priestess:Meanings and Combinations

Upright: Intuition, traditionally associated to women, but which can be found in both sexes.  Wise woman, spiritual advisor, teacher, counsellor. The Unconscious and getting in touch with it. Following hunches, trusting ourselves. Reaching for our inner selves. Asking for advice and help when necessary.

Reversed: Emotional vampire, manipulating person (specially women) False psychic or reader, or simply somebody who uses us for his or her purposes. It can also mean that we aren’t listening enough to our own intuition.

Combinations: Next to the Hierophant, relationship between equals. Next to the Hanged Man, woman who tends to sacrifice too much for the others (dangerously when Hanged Man is reversed) Next to the Four of Swords, time for contemplation. Next to the Devil, a person has problems with his or her deepest desires or ideas.

The High Priestess: She was born at night, but it wasn’t last night

A beautiful, middle-aged woman, is sitting between 2 pillars, a black one and a white one; they bear the letters B and J, which indicate they are Boaz and Joachim, the columns at the entry of Solomon’s temple, that is, these pillars form the gate of Wisdom (many of you know this already thanks to that infamous book, The Da Vinci Code)

Behind the Priestess, we can see a veil embroidered with palms, a symbol of victory, and  pomegranates (also used by King Solomon, according to the Bible) which represent immortality.The fact that she is guarding a veil is a clear sign of her being a keeper of wisdom; in many religious traditions, lifting a veil was a symbol of acquiring secret or sacred knowledge, just like lifting the veil of a bride means entering her intimacy and privacy.

The Priestess is crowned by the three visible phases of the moon (waxing, waning, Full) which represent the three aspects of the Goddess (Maiden, Mother, Crone) as any Wiccan near you will tell you. The Moon, that reigns over the tides and over women`s fertility cycles, represents at once the unconscious and the cycle of life, and warns us that the Priestess knows way more of what lies within us and of the mysteries of life than we ever will. This is confirmed by the sea that can be barely seen behind the veil; as we will see in other cards, water is the symbol of the unconscious. So is blue, the colour that predominates in this card.

If you haven`t noticed by now, this lady is holding a parchment in her hand  and stepping on the moon!! On the parchment we can read “Tora” or Torah, the name of the Jewish religious law (and a very similar word to Taro, another name for Tarot ;))  The Empress as Lawgiver incarnates Wisdom herself, which should rule the world and its rulers (but it doesn’t:/ ) The Moon under her feet brings to mind a very popular Catholic image, Mary as Immaculate Conception, stepping on the Moon like in St. John’s vision:

And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. (Revelation 12:1)

In fact, this woman in the vision was a symbol of the persecuted Christian church in the Roman empire, and this symbology is very close to the Priestess’ imagery: clothed in white and blue (colours of purity and wisdom), crowned by the Moon itself and with another Moon under her feet, and with St. Andrew’s cross (a decoration given to heroes) on her breast, the Priestess is an emblem of knowledge and wisdom triumphing over the world and its trials and being crowned as supreme.

The High Priestess has a good deal of secrets to reveal you, but you have to be ready, for knowing yourself and connecting with your higher intuition is no picnic. Stay tuned for next post and you’ll learn how many things she can show you.

The Magician: Meanings and Combinations

Meaning (upright):Intelligence, creativity , ability to bring new things to life  (at a less deep level than other cards, like the Devil) . Making the most of a bad situation. Ability to charm, seduce and convince in order to get results, not just to gain control over others. Resourcefulness, adaptation to change. Getting down to work, making projects come true.

Meaning (reversed): A manipulative person, capable of using tricks and lies in order to get what he/she  wants. Stealing ideas from others. False prophet, medium or reader. Charlatan. Using an ability inadequately, wasting time or effort.

Some card combinations:

Next to the Tower or the Devil: Very dangerous and manipulative person.

Next to the Lovers: It can mean an unfaithful lover or just a very charming suitor who could not mean all he/she says.

Next to the High Priestess: Wise woman who finds an exciting lover that makes her feel complete. If the Magician is reversed, this lover could be lying to her.

Next to the Hanged Man: Person who gives the best of himself/herself to a cause, and can even border on fanaticism.


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