There are different faces of power. The Magician and the High Priestess have shown the Fool the power of inner direction and strength, from both an active and passive perspective, respectively. The Empress has shown him the quiet authority of external, passive power. To complete the foursome, he ventures to the Emperor – the face of our patriarchal society’s highest echelons today.
The Emperor’s story is that of every person of authority who has had to struggle to get to the top. He is a former soldier who’s made it up the ranks, and so knows not to take his power for granted. He is the ideal leader; he may be caring, but is also strict; he means business and isn’t afraid to show it. He is firm but not cruel, and plans to succeed but does not compromise what is important to get it.
The Emperor is traditionally associated with competitiveness and forcefulness in development and execution. He is the archetype for authority, structure, and governmental and corporate identities. He represents worldly power, the ability to shoulder responsibility, and self-control gained through experience. If surrounding cards or the querent indicates that this is a person, the Emperor represents a powerful individual who has both the ambition and the potential for long-term achievement.
In most depictions, the Emperor wears a combination of a kingly robe and a knight’s armor, signifying that a true leader goes to war with his men. The color red tends to predominate his imagery, which represents his energy; his tarot card is attributed to the planet Mars, long associated with war and conquest.
He is shown either looking directly at the viewer unabashed, or ahead of him, like he is looking at the kingdom he reigns over, or new territory he is about to conquer. His surroundings tend to be regal but comparatively austere, under a wide, merciless sky, seemingly reflecting his state of mind.
Interpretation in Various Areas of Life
Someone needs to be the boss, and it may be the querent themselves. Structure may be required of the situation, imposed either on themselves or their immediate environment.
If there is an existing relationship, the balance may be out of whack; the querent may need to assert themselves to get what they want out of the relationship. If the querent is single, it’s time for them to feel and show others how good they are on their own to attract a partner that can complement their uniqueness.
It may be that the querent has been letting other people or circumstances decide how their finances go, and that needs to stop. It may be overwhelming at first to take responsibility and hold the reins, but it will be crucial for their self-identity and independence.
The querent needs to be more hands-on in their approach, and not just let the microwave dinners and pizza deliveries accumulate! First, they need to decide where they want to be and what they want to achieve to turn their lifestyle around. Then they can take steps to take responsibility and be accountable for it.
It’s time for the querent to break free from preconceived notions of what it is to be spiritual, and make their own mind about what is sacred to them.