Tarot Talk


The Emperor (4)

“No one can give you authority. But if you act like you have it, others will believe you do.”  ~Karin Ireland

Image Description:

The Rider-Waite deck portrays a crowned ruler seated on a raised throne decorated with ram heads; his robes also bear the same ram insignia. Beneath the flowing fabric hints of protective armor can be seen. In his right hand he holds a globe and in his left hand a scepter.  Behind his throne barren mountains stretch forth in the distance.


Scepter: Sovereignty

Ram’s Heads (Zodiac sign for Aries): Ambition and career prospects

Globe: Rulership

Solid Platform: Foundation, solidity

Armor: Readiness, preparation

Beard: Masculinity, strength

Key Words:

Fathering, Structure, Stability, Authority, Leadership

Fool’s Journey:

The Fool next approaches a great Emperor who sits upon a raised throne, watching over his kingdom with astute authority. The Fool is amazed by the Emperor’s control and the secure manner in which he commands those beneath him.  Much like a father might guide his son, the Emperor teaches the Fool the importance of leadership and how to establish a structured and stable environment. Ready now to lead rather than be led, the Fool embarks on the next stage of his journey with new purpose.

The Lesson:

To learn how to be authoritative without being self-obsessed or demanding.


The Emperor represents structure, stability, regulation, and the ability to create order out of chaos — polar forces that balance the uninhibited, natural abundances of the Empress. His expression of strong yang energy and dynamic strength serves as a symbol of our ambition, drive, and ability to realize goals.

In readings, the Emperor can indicate the need for orderliness. In a chaotic environment, unruly elements that remain unrestrained can leave us feeling powerless. Taking control of the situation puts us in a position of power and enables us to direct the course of our lives.  However, if the situation at hand is already overly controlled, than the Emperor can suggest the confining effects of an over-constrained environment.

The Emperor can also signify an encounter with authority, an influential leader, mentor, taskmaster, or a situation that exudes the energies of dominance and control. Likewise, He can represent the archetypal father figure who, in times of need, can be trusted to fulfill his role as guide, protector, and provider.

Next issue, we will examine ‘The Hierophant.’  Until then, may the Tarot be with you!