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When the Emperor comes out in a reading, it represents wisdom, command, and stability. The message is to take charge of your domain. Some difficult choices may be on the horizon, but you’re well-positioned to act to maintain or expand your authority.
The Emperor represents fatherhood in the classical sense of the word. This refers to the head of the household in terms of being a provider and the enforcer of boundaries.
This may show up in a reading as a person the querent has to answer to in all things. The Emperor holds the power to grant rewards or order punishment, making him one to be obeyed.
The rules are in place for good reason and they are intended to bring a sense of structure and support to the collective. The control the Emperor exerts is believed to be for everyone’s peace of mind and wellbeing.
The Emperor Tarot Card Keywords and Facts
|Upright Keywords||Authority, fatherhood, control, wisdom, stability|
|Reversed Keywords||Tyranny, domination, instability|
|Yes or No||Yes|
The Emperor Tarot Card Symbolism and Appearance
The Emperor is a man of advanced age with a stern demeanor. This indicates long years of experience, wisdom, and willingness to make hard choices. He sits on a throne of stone decorated with rams’ heads. The throne is a symbol of his dominance and strength.
The Ram’s head is a symbol of Aries, the god of war. Together with the river and mountains behind him, the ram’s heads indicate the battles the Emperor has fought to accomplish his dominion and the determination and ambition he has shown in his leadership.
He wears armor beneath his imperial robes and holds a globe in one hand, a scepter the shape of an ankh in the other. The Ankh is an Egyptian symbol for life. The Emperor’s life is bound to the life of his lands and the people in them.
The globe is a symbol of the sovereign integrity of the Emperor’s domain. The armor represents his readiness to defend what is rightfully his.
The Emperor Tarot Card Upright Meaning
When it appears upright, the Emperor refers to fatherhood, authority, and security. It points to having a reliable, ambitious and protective person at the helm of your operation. It takes an awareness of the responsibilities that come with power.
The Emperor’s word is the law of his domain, but it is understood that when you wield this kind of power, you are meant to use it for the overall good of those who live under your authority.
The rules you create for others must be rules you would adhere to yourself. They must also be equally applied without making exceptions for someone who has somehow gained your favor.
In a love reading, the Emperor points to traditional relationships, having a rational approach to love, and repressing one’s feelings. There is value in establishing structure, boundaries, and pathways in our romantic life.
However, too much structure can become unpleasant. It won’t do to restrict a beloved so much that they feel their hands are tied or that they can’t pursue what would make them happy.
On the other hand, you may find a lover who is committed and kind but who struggles to express their feelings. It takes patience and encouragement for one like this to open up.
Health and Spirituality (Upright)
In a reading about health, the Emperor means you’re pushing too hard. The lesson is about taking breaks and giving yourself time to relax and reflect. “All work and no play,” isn’t good for your continued well-being.
Seek a balance where you can be productive and improve without devoting every moment of the day to progress. Constantly testing your limitations can leave you feeling stretched thin and lacking drive.
Money and Career (Upright)
When the Emperor shows up in a spread about money or career, it’s time to get a plan. Worldly success relies on organization, efficiency and discipline. If you find yourself in a disorganized work environment, this is an opportunity to show leadership by establishing protocols that help people work better together.
Rely on disciplined approaches to financial well-being. Create a budget and stick to it. When it comes to spending, if you practice self-control, you’ll find you can expand your possessions to include things you thought were financially out of reach.
The Emperor Tarot Card Reversed Meaning
When the Emperor shows up in reverse, it refers to the abuse of power. Dominance and control without self-discipline can turn one into a petty tyrant who is impossible to work with. If you’re the one in charge, this is a warning to take it easy on yourself and others.
Avoid being so rigid with your authority. A good leader takes reasonable counsel. It’s possible you can make more progress if you trust the experience of those in your command.
When the Emperor reversed comes out in a love reading, it points to a struggle for control between partners. There is something competitive or adversarial about the relationship, and it detracts from your ability to be loving with one another.
There may be a problem with jealousy, possessiveness, and controlling behavior. Struggling in this way makes for an unhappy pairing.
Sometimes a beloved struggles to express their emotions because they are afraid of being rejected. The Emperor, in reverse, advises you to listen with patience and practice forgiveness. After all, nobody is perfect.
Health and Spirituality (Reversed)
In reverse, the Emperor points to an inactive way of being. The message is that you need self-discipline and active involvement to keep your body healthy. The upkeep of your physical wellness is an ongoing challenge, and it’s time to meet your obstacles head-on.
Spiritually speaking, it means you’ve been ignoring your spiritual growth and suffering as a result. In this case, your character becomes weak, and the result is that you lack the ability to stand up for what you believe in.
Money and Career (Reversed)
If you see the Emperor reversed in a money or career reading, it stands for a lack of fiscal responsibility. The warning is about out-of-control spending and growing debt. Now is the time to take charge of your financial well-being, by keeping track of your purchases and staying within a budget.
In the workplace, the Emperor reversed can indicate a tyrannical, abusive boss or supervisor. You may be required to stand up for yourself and set some boundaries. If this backfires, you are probably better off looking elsewhere for employment.
The Emperor Tarot Card Yes or No Meaning
The Emperor is a “yes” in a yes or no spread. You have a lot of energy and vitality on your side. Exercise good judgment and protect what is yours. Your influence will grow.
Important Card Combinations for the Emperor Card
The Emperor and Justice
This combination indicates you may find yourself seeking justice under the rule of state authority. The justice system exists to create a sense of balance. You may be awarded a settlement or some kind of compensation if you have been wronged.
On the other hand, if you appeal to justice for the wrong reasons or find yourself on the wrong side of the law, the balance may be restored by the means of your punishment. You may be charged a fee, made to compensate a victim, or even be incarcerated for wrong actions.
The Emperor and the Eight of Swords
The Eight of Swords generally refers to a kind of self-imposed confinement. However, when it appears alongside the Emperor, this can mean someone in authority will impose a sentence of imprisonment.
It can also refer to the literal gatekeepers in your life. Authoritative figures who, like prison guards, exercise their dominance to keep one under lock and key.
The Emperor and The Lovers
The Emperor is a committed and stable partner. It’s good news when this card turns up with the Lovers. It means you either have or will find a partner who is sincere, supportive and reliable.
Maintaining a good connection with a lover, represented by the Emperor, requires that you are honest, loyal and steadfast in your relationship. You do what is expected, and you are rewarded with trust and security.
The Emperor and the Ten of Cups
Paired with the Ten of Cups, the Emperor represents the head of your family or household. This is a person who has authority because they provide sustenance and support for the people who rely on them.
The Emperor and the Four of Swords
As an emblem of authority and support, the Emperor, coupled with the Four of Swords, can indicate a visit to the hospital or the need to turn to a medical professional for help.
The four of swords indicates rest, so it’s quite possible you will need some time to recuperate after seeking medical attention.
The Emperor and the Ace of Cups
Authority and connection. The Emperor appears with the Ace of Cups to indicate one who is spiritually connected and capable of providing good guidance.
A teacher or spiritual leader wields power not on their own merits but by the grace of the divine. This person has the depth of understanding to see how all things are connected, and this includes our relationship to the earth, to one another, and to the world of spirit.
The Emperor and The Hierophant
The Hierophant finds success by conforming to tried and true ways of doing things. Paired with the Emperor, this can indicate the creation of a solid business plan that will bring you success when you stick to convention.
If you are already successful in this business, the Emperor and the Hierophant can point to the possibility of branching out by creating franchises. The point of the franchise is to continue the success of the original business by doing things the same way they’ve been done.
The Emperor and The Hermit
The Hermit withdraws from the rigors of society to spend time in study and contemplation. Paired with the hard-working Emperor, this combination indicates retirement from a career.
Perhaps you were successful in your work, but you can now look forward to some peace and quiet and activities that contribute to your personal growth.
After long years of hard work, you may get an opportunity to stay home and rest, perhaps studying something that always held your interest but didn’t pay the bills. Now that you have consolidated your safety and support in the world, you can pay attention to things you like without worrying whether your needs will be met.
The Emperor Tarot Card in Numerology
Although it is the fifth card in the Major Arcana, the Emperor’s number is four. Four represents stability, like the four legs of a chair. Establishment and support are keywords for the number four.
There are four suits in the tarot deck, representing the four elements: Fire, Earth, Air and Water. These are all the tools you need to create and grow the security you desire.
Next Card: Tarot Card Number 5: The Hierophant Meanings
Rider-Waite images used with permission of U.S. Games Systems, Inc., Stamford, CT c. 1971 by U.S. Games Systems.