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The Emperor Tarot Card Meaning Upright and Reversed

The Emperor Tarot Card Meaning Upright and Reversed

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The fourth teacher along our path through the Tarot is The Emperor. He is the masculine counterpart to The Empress, and he teaches us about power. When The Emperor Tarot card appears, we may be on the path to a promotion or a great achievement. For this reason, The Emperor is usually a positive card.

In this article, we will look at The Emperor Tarot card and its symbolism in the Rider-Waite Tarot deck. We will also guide you in interpreting this card when it is upright and reversed.

The Emperor Tarot Card and Numerology

Each Tarot card has a number, and this number has deep meaning and significance. The number of The Emperor Tarot card is 4. Four completes a square, and it binds us in the material world.

The number 4 is 2+2, and thus it contains duality and opposition. Conflict is a necessary part of life. We need challenges to conquer and hardships to overcome. Indeed, no one would read a story in which the protagonist was always happy and nothing bad ever happened to him. Such a story would be dull and boring.

The Emperor Tarot card teaches us how to succeed in the material world and to triumph over adversity.

Keywords for The Emperor Tarot Card


  • Power
  • Success
  • Leadership
  • Adventure
  • Authority


  • Severity
  • Inflexibility
  • Aggression
  • Punishment
  • Cruelty

Imagery and Symbolism of The Emperor Tarot Card

The Emperor is seated on a stone throne that is decorated with the heads of rams. The Ram is the symbol of Aries, and The Emperor Tarot card shares many traits of this zodiac sign. In his right hand, he is holding an Egyptian cross, which represents immortality. In his right hand, he is holding a globe, which represents the world which he rules.

The Emperor is dressed in a red tunic, and his hair and beard are white. He is wearing armor underneath his clothing. This shows that even though he is wise, he must rule through force and power. The red color that is dominant in this card symbolizes fire, as well as the activity leading to victory. The Emperor Tarot card is one of action!

Behind the throne of The Emperor is a mountain. This is a symbol of The Sacred Mountain, which is the where Heaven and Earth meet. On a more mundane level, the mountain represents stability and adversity.

Lessons of The Emperor Tarot Card

The journey through the Major Arcana of the Tarot began with The Magician, which was the first act of Creation. Next came The High Priestess who maintained the connection between Creation and materiality and who taught us about duality. After that came The Empress who taught us about love and fertility. Now it is time to impose structure and order, and this is the job of The Emperor.

The power of civilization: The Emperor, a new order

Everything was created in a seemingly random fashion, but there still must be order. Just as children need discipline, humans need laws to coexist with each other. The Emperor imposes order, hierarchy, and rules for the sake of peace and harmony.

The Emperor is in charge of establishing laws that govern our life on earth without forgetting that we are spiritual beings. The creation that began with The Magician is fully formed, and now it is necessary to give it structure so it can grow. The Emperor is the Logos that balances Chaos.

The Emperor is a philosopher and a benevolent father that knows when to listen. Yet, he is also a warrior who knows when to pick up his sword. The Emperor is closely connected to the Zodiac sign of Aries, who is the archetypal soldier.

At times our subconscious mind may seem to contain random thoughts and uncontrolled emotions. As rational beings, however, we structure experiences and establish organized patterns of thought through which we develop our conscious ideas and beliefs.

These beliefs are the “frame” by which we organize our experiences as good or bad, and they become the “laws” that we follow in our personal lives. This is where our self-control or the lack thereof lies. The Emperor teaches us to always be on the lookout for a positive direction. He helps us to plan and work each day while at the same time, we concentrate on mastering self-discipline.

Take the time to understand the motives of the people around you, focus your energy on “decluttering” and eliminating things you don’t want in your future.

How to Interpret The Emperor Tarot Card in a Reading

The Emperor Tarot card usually appears in a spread for those who are about to assume more significant responsibilities. It can also foretell changes or losses that force you to step up to the plate and take action. Whatever the change is, this card indicates that you have everything you need to act and to lead.

When this card appears, the situation is stable. It can represent a powerful man who acts as a protector, patron, or mediator. This man can also be a boss or a father. The Emperor also signifies the exercise of authority that gives experience. The qualities of this card are virility, ambition, conquest, vigor, willpower, discipline, and self-control. The Emperor symbolizes personal and social power, as well as the law.

The Upright Position of The Emperor Tarot Card:

Upright Emperor Tarot Card Meaning – Major Arcana IV
Upright Emperor Tarot Card Meaning

The Emperor marks the beginning of a new project or a new phase in life. This new beginning will extend into new territories and conquer new areas. In the outside world, this could mean the beginning of a promising project, changes in professional life, travel, or parenthood.

As with all Tarot cards, multiple meanings are possible. While The Empress is the feminine principle, The Emperor is the masculine one. Most individuals relate to this card in the same way they relate to their father.

The Emperor symbolizes the desire to control the environment, and its appearance in a reading often suggests that the subject has to accept that some things cannot be managed. In order to gain authority in any field, a person must become strong and capable of achieving their objectives. The Emperor teaches that if you work hard, you will succeed.


  • A relationship where sex and material considerations are more important than feelings


  • Strength
  • Vitality
  • Energy
  • Quick recovery


  • Person in command
  • Action
  • Work that is well planned and serious


  • Business success
  • Profits
  • Inheritances
  • Prevailing in a lawsuit

The Reversed Position of The Emperor Tarot Card:

Reversed Emperor Tarot Card Meaning (Inverted) – Major Arcana IV
Reversed Emperor Tarot Card Meaning (Inverted)

The Emperor Tarot card, when reversed, may indicate that there is a man neglecting his responsibilities, creating work or difficulties for others.

When The Emperor reversed appears in a reading, the person may be feeling powerless in a situation or stagnant in the pursuit of their goals. Another potential meaning of this card may be difficulty with authority figures or having a dominant partner or father.

Analyze your need for control. Face your problems in a more organized and methodical way. Sometimes, The Emperor reversed indicates that you need to handle authority in an unconventional manner.

The Emperor Tarot card reversed can also be encouraging you to stand up to a crippling boss or a hierarchical organization that you find suffocating. The purpose of this is to enter into a more flexible and adaptable environment where you can thrive. You may also consider working independently or starting your own business so that you can be free of oppressive bosses or work situations.

If this card appears reversed, you want to break free of dominant people. You are now ready to embrace healthier relationships with equals.


  • Doubts about the future of a relationship


  • Small accidents
  • Problems with your arms and legs


  • Need to surround yourself with a good team
  • Loss of power
  • Abuse of power


  • Time to save
  • Home improvements

Rider-Waite images used with permission of U.S. Games Systems, Inc., Stamford, CT c. 1971 by U.S. Games Systems.


Sunday 19th of July 2020

I really enjoyed this. Thank you for sharing.