The Emperor Tarot Card – Meaning, Reversed, Guide, Love

Tarot opening reveals our innermost purpose and brings us closer to understanding of our fate, our place and role in the world.

Our destiny has been determined eons ago, although a common individual would never be aware of all its wonders and the ultimate mission. That is what makes our lives mysterious and our future uncertain.

Divination has been practiced since distant times and it still lives on; some of the techniques are very old.

Tarot cards were not originally intended for esoteric and occult practice, but were used for gaming. They originate from the late medieval Europe and were used in quite popular card games.

When used for mystical purposes, those of divination, tarot cards could be divided into two groups, the Major and the Minor Arcana.

A common deck usually counts 78 cards in total, of which 22 are Major Arcana cards and the rest belong to the Minor. The Emperor card we are going carefully to examine belongs to the first group, trump cards.

The Emperor Tarot Card Quick Facts

The Emperor tarot card is the fourth card in the Major Arcana deck (of total 22 cards, The Fool is numbered 0). What would be your first associations of the Emperor? Think about the historical term of the empire and its ultimate ruler.

The Emperor is the highest power, commonly taken as chosen by the Divinity to rule over people. The Emperor is the father, the autocrat, the leader, the protector; someone almost godly. He is above all and, as such, he governs everything, through wisdom, through reason and will.

The responsibility of the Emperor is huge; he takes all the burden upon his shoulders, because he is, indeed, strong enough to bear it. Let us go through the key terms and features of The Emperor card, before we analyze it any further.

Key terms for The Emperor tarot card: Power, self-control, leadership, protection, wisdom, strength, structure, authority, willpower, dominance

Key essential element of the Emperor: Fire

Major Arcana numerical of The Emperor card: 4

Planet and the astrological sign of the Emperor: Mars, Aries

Yes/No question for The Emperor card: Yes

Related to the card of: Death

Visual Description of The Emperor Card

The Rider-Waite tarot cards deck is the most widespread design for tarot readings, so we will look into its images.

This deck was originally published in 1909, designed and illustrated by Pamela Colman Smith under the instructions of the mystic A.E. Waite.  Now, look carefully into the imagery of The Emperor card. What is the first thing you notice?

Unlike the preceding Empress, the Emperor is depicted as an older man, though definitely still admirably strong; he appears as if it is impossible for him to lose any of his strength. He is an archetype of the father, just as an emperor would commonly be taken as the father of a nation. Look at his position. He is enthroned on a marvelous seat decorated with ram heads.

The seat appears as if it was made from solid stone, marble, perhaps, indicating the Emperor’s strength, determination, fixed and ultimate authority. He, of course, wears crimson imperial robes. His crown reminds of a Byzantine imperial crown. Along with red robes, it is a clear insignia of imperial authority, a basileus.

His upper garment is of a deeper red, which could be associated with the imperial purple. In Byzantine Empire, Basileia ton Romaion, only an emperor could wear red buskins, purple clothes and use red ink. All these symbols stand for the Emperor’s unquestionable authority. These are passive symbols, in a way.

They suggest his power is something to be accepted, without further question. However, he proves his high position through practical activity. You could clearly see that he wears an armor; take a glance of his well exposed armored legs and feet. The Emperor is the protector, an inspirational, tactful leader.

However, he is more of a guardian than a hot-headed warrior. There is no sword or any other weapon around him. The insignia of power he holds in his hands tell about the well-established rule he has to protect. He is the wall against all threat and his empire is the empire of wisdom, peace and stability.

Dominant colors are fiery ones, red, orange and yellow. There is no greenery, which was the case with all three preceding cards of the Magician, the High Priestess and the Empress. They have already planted it; the Emperor, as the head of the family, the father archetype, has to preserve it. However, take a closer look at the mountain range behind his throne.

There is a tiny river or a stream. The mountains represent strength, a solid form, but also an inability or unwillingness to change.

The stream represents the opposite. It could also be linked with the creative energy of nature, associated with the Empress card. In any case, this little amount of flowing water is a symbol of hope.

The Emperor Card Meaning Guide

I am the pillar and the guardian.

The imagery of The Emperor tarot card already reveals much of its meaning. However, let us get deeper into it. As you could see, the Emperor is depicted with the long, white beard, which indicates his great knowledge, wisdom and experience. He is the paternal figure, the trustworthy guardian and protector of all.

The Emperor is the counterpart of the Empress. As such, he represent strong, stable and supportive masculine energy; he is the husband and the father. His main characteristic is his reason, his strong will and his immense knowledge. That does not mean the emperor is cruel or unkind; on the contrary. He cares about everything.

However, there is a structure he is the main pillar of, just as in the patriarchal world, the father is the pillar of a family. He leads with confidence and he is there for everyone who needs his support, guidance, a word of wisdom. He holds no weapon; we could say that he overcame the boyhood rashness long time ago.

The Emperor is in strict opposition with characteristics of the Fool, for instance.

Unlike the relaxed figure of the Empress, the Emperor sits straight in his ram-decorated marble throne, holding his hands firmly, with both feet on the ground.

However, he does not appear stiff, but self-confident. He is capable of resolving any problem he faces, because he has a lot of knowledge and experience.

The Emperor perfectly uses both types of energy, active and passive. He is fierce if needed; rams on his throne, associated with fiery Aries, speak clearly of his active masculine energy.

The mountains behind him are his own fortress, the walls he is to protect. If you translate it into everyday terms, we could think of a family home a father protects.

This card openly indicates power. If you have it in an opening, it tells about amazing potential that has to be realized.

The Emperor card is about exercising actual power, being in charge, leadership. The nature of the Emperor’s authority is that of just and fair rule. He is a figure to be admired and looked upon.

The Emperor  – YES or NO

If you have a specific and very straightforward question to ask or you are a beginner, try the simple ’yes or no’ reading. It is an easy one.

The questioner usually asks a simple question that requires a simple answer. The answers in such a reading could be yes, no or, sometimes, maybe. What would be the answer if The Emperor card has been pulled?

The Emperor is a YES! Having in mind the strong and determined energy of this card, there is no doubt the answer would be positive.

It especially applies to questions regarding career and relationships. As the emperor is about leadership and taking charge, about integrity and stability, it is easy to take it as a yes.

The meaning of the card would be altered if the card was reversed or if it appears in more complex readings, besides some other cards.

Let us now interpret both positions in which The Emperor card could be pulled. Later on, we will give examples of the combined meanings.

The Emperor Card Upright Meaning

The upright position of The Emperor card appears to be most auspicious (the card is taken as ’upright’ if it faces the questioner in a regular position).

All the best qualities of this card are in the game. If you pulled the upright Emperor card, it suggests you will gain power. Now, this could be understood in many ways.

You will be capable of leadership, of conducting a business, of taking care about your family and friends, of being in a high position that allows you to make positive changes on a bigger plane, according to already established and well determined principles that guide you. If you have been insecure about your capacities and capabilities, the Emperor definitely suggests you have it all.

The Emperor also implies the fatherly role, the role model, someone admirable, just and righteous. The Emperor is generous towards good people and someone who does not hesitate to protect those in need.

Of course, the Emperor could appear to be another person and not the questioner; it could be a strong, fatherly, supportive figure in a questioner’s life.

The Emperor Card Reversed Meaning

The reversed Emperor card, that is, reversed from your angle of view, is, as expected, a negative sign, for the most part. It indicates lack of all the strength and quality of the upright card.

It means that you lack structure and solid ground in your life. You are confused by the tons of information; therefore, you do not master the knowledge you get.

It means that you have no control over current circumstances in your life, feeling helpless, powerless and lost. This does not mean things are not going to change, of course.

The main traits of the Emperor should be power, authority and control. In reversed case, the questioner is like a weak-willed emperor, who does not govern his realm with firm and just hand.

In this sense, the Emperor card suggest you should collect yourself and regain control over your life. This is not going to be easy, because you have let others freely do whatever they want.

Let us take another metaphor; you are like an emperor who has let his noble subject gain more power than they should have. The structure has to be re-established.

On the other hand, the reversed Emperor could be understood as a tyrant, someone who definitely exceeds in use of the rightfully given power.

In this case, the questioner or another person in their life is someone overly authoritative, aggressive, stubborn, unwilling to show any understanding or tolerance for others. Cruelty, lack of compassion and mercy characterize such people.

They gain power through cruelty and by unjust means. Such power is short-term, so think about it. It could be applied in all areas of life, from family, love life, social life and friendship, to career, business and else. Beware of the reversed Emperor in your life, but also in your own heart.

The Emperor Tarot Card – Career Meaning

The Emperor tarot card could be taken as one most wanted card in a reading related to career and money. It is probably the most auspicious card to be pulled if such matters were in the question.

The Emperor indicates qualities of a leader, good structure and organization of work. Well-determined goals and promising plans.

The Emperor card indicates that the questioner is well aware about what he or she wants to achieve and how ready they are to work on their plans.

The Emperor tells about someone hardworking, confident, brave, impossible to be taken off the track an manipulated. Such one is not scared by failure, but would work the best in order to avoid one.

This card suggests to stay focused on your business goals, to take charge of the project you are working on, to hold your reins strongly and, above all, to believe in success. You will be rewarded for your hard work and dedication and eventually even ’enthroned’ so to say. Work wisely and with confidence and all will be well.

If, by any chance, the card appears reversed, keep away from manipulators and people who are trying to get you off your track. Do not rely on everyone else to get your things done.

Be the master of the game and not a puppet. The reversed card could indicate a failure. However, it could be a warning you could use for your benefit, in order to avoid even the greater one.

The Emperor Tarot Card – Love Meaning

When it comes to love, the Emperor is an extremely favorable card! The Emperor card tells about commitment, stable relationship, trustworthy partners, well-grounded family life, tradition, strong bonds, reliance and mutual admiration. This is a very good card for love life and relationships of all sorts.

The Emperor is the fatherly figure, so it naturally tells about a structured family life.

If we speak only about the romantic partnership, The Emperor card could be a sign of a love relationship with an older, reliable partner. It would be someone who is wise, protective and caring.

Such a person offers not only passionate love, but also guardianship and even guidance. If you are already married or in a relationship, the card is about prosperous future, family, lasting love.

The Emperor card also suggest that current difficulties in family or between partners will be possible to overcome, because, at the end of the day, you value unity, mutual support and deep commitment, even if the initial sparks have cooled down a bit. The Emperor puts family above everything else.

The Emperor card is about lasting, tradition, committing, dedication, support and care. All of it is to be found in a healthy relationship.

The Emperor actually helps us realize the greatest value of our relationships with others, including romantic relations, family bonds, those between friends and other types of connections. He does not let things fall apart.

The Emperor Tarot Card – Health Meaning

What does The Emperor card indicate regarding health matters? As he is the epitome of masculine energy, the card possibly suggests that you often cross limits your body and mind could normally endure. We have said that the Emperor rules through wisdom and not through aggression.

However, when it comes to health, his well-structured system and focus could be a bit too much.

The firm, authoritative Emperor inside you would sometimes demand of you more than you could handle, usually with the brightest goal.

For example, you are trying very hard to be there for everyone else, to have strength for others. While this is generally a noble intention, definitely in accordance with the figure of a fatherly emperor, sometimes it could reflect bad on your own health.

Perhaps you should slow down a bit; the world will not fall apart.

The Emperor is a noble figure, but could tend to be overly protective of others, which would eventually make his own armor thin and affect actual physical and mental health. Be kind and gentle to yourself; this would not harm your ’imperial’ status.

The Emperor Combined

Let us now see what meanings could we get if The Emperor card was pulled along with some other cards of the deck.

Here are several good examples of The Emperor card combined with others from both Major and Minor Arcana.

  • The Emperor and The Wheel of Fortune: Reforms
  • The Emperor and The Sun: Stable family, great business success
  • The Emperor and The Ten of Wands: Difficulties regarding work
  • The Emperor and The Four of Cups: Obsession, fanatic ideas
  • The Emperor and The Queen of Swords: Instability
  • The Emperor and The Knight of Pentacles: Rich follower

Astrology and The Emperor

The Emperor card is associated with the astrological planet of Mars, which is strongly linked with courage, authority, power, determination.

Mars is the planet of masculine energy. In its relation with the Emperor figure, it shows all the qualities of the Roman Mars, who is a brave, courageous, daring, but tactful leader, rather than those of the fierce and hot-headed Greek Ares.

The Emperor  Zodiac Sign

The zodiac sign of the Emperor is Aries; you have seen rams on his throne.

Aries is a very active, bold and crave sign. In this case, it presents with its core qualities; Aries, who could be very aggressive and impulsive, actually leans towards security, stability and order.

Numerology and The Emperor

At last, the number of The Emperor card is 4. Number four resonates with energies of devotion, patriotism, tradition, organization, dignity, system and discipline, constructive solutions and maintenance, amongst others.

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