IV- The Emperor
Associated Astrology: Aries, Mars
Key words: Boundary, Security, Structure, Doctrine, Law, Leadership, Power, Authority, Decision, Order, Tradition, Routine, Culture, Education, Paternity
"He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still." - Lao Tzu
Welcome to the commanding Emperor tarot card. The Emperor is all about the correct use of power and dominion. His incredible energy is the underlying foundation of every building we inhabit. I see him as the ultimate architect. Where his partner - The Empress - contains the wilderness, The Emperor is the engineer of society. He is also the paternal figurehead to her maternal space.
The Emperor brings us touchstones we can connect with, like our legal rights, our seasonal holidays and our concept of group and national identity. He provides security in clearly defined boundaries, instructions, timings and procedures.
He is responsible for the design of cultural institutions such as religion, education, law and medicine. He represents the process under which society can be governed, and traditions and rituals are part of his lifeblood. Give him a nod the next time you eat a chocolate Easter egg or are awestruck by skilled craftsmanship.
He is not an inventor in the sense of The Magician. Rather, he shapes innovation into organised use and creates the ultimate 'how to' guides for civilisation. For this he requires specific tools. These tools are something he asks you to focus upon when you receive him in a reading.
His most significant message is the requirement of laying down the law in your own life. His boundary is clearly defined. He gives sense of security to those he is responsible for as he is organised and decisive. The buck stops with him. Often he shows up when we need to say 'no' to behaviour that breaches our sense of personal space or disrespects and undermines our dignity.
By setting parameters he asks you to realise that leadership is required of you. A show of strength is key to a stable position. He is not asking you to invade anyone else's territory, just to embrace your right to your own. Many a parent can pull this card if he or she is struggling to call the shots.
The Emperor is so decisive in his actions that he can veto immediately if the situation requires it, or he can usher in an entirely new system. Once he has made up his mind, he is swift, capable and dedicated.
This is a card of strategy and he asks you to think about efficiency and respect. This can vary from rescuing your filing system from chaos, to careful diplomacy in handling tricky variables. Take control of your realm without fear. It may be that you are on the cusp of laying some kind of a foundation stone that will become a building block to the rest of your life.
A great architect designs something that will last a lifetime and inspires generations to follow suit. The Emperor is the card of our legacy and in the broadest sense we are all participants in the Empire of Humanity. He draws inspiration from the natural order of his partner the Empress and moulds it into our culture.
He asks us 'what legacy would you like to leave behind?'
Reversed or Negatively Aspected - This card has significant power and 'with great power comes great responsibility'. If the card is negatively aspected then he can be a bit of a despot. At his worse he is tyrannical and demanding. This is rare but if it rings true you may need to own up to overbearing behaviour. If the card represents another person, you may need to stand up to intimidation.
The Emperor has a tendency to barricade himself in, emotionally and mentally, if he feels his process may be exposed to criticism or under scrutiny. The Emperor is an expert but this can become the definition of his existence and what he pins his self-worth upon. He needs to be 'right'. The idea of having to adapt is not easy for this card. He would rather throw the baby out with the bathwater and call in a new system than compromise.
Either way, just remember that leadership is not about control. Leadership gives genuine security to it's chosen tribe. It restores and maintains a peaceful state. Control creates conflict.
Another negative aspect of this card can be his dogma. Once the Emperor has signed up to a specific social label or subscribed to a certain mode of being, he can be the very definition of rigid, no matter how positively labelled his cause or pursuit. His certainty in his own process can be perceived as the only worthwhile road. In turn, this can make him blinkered, inflexible and hypocritical.
Negativity and hopelessness can be the shield of many and unhappy Emperor. This character finds it particularly hard to master internal changes, and despite his intelligence can be blind to the relationship between his inner domain and the larger worldly one. To protect himself further, he tends to surround himself with people who agree with his approach. Underneath it all, he's sensitive, scared and struggles with a sense of shame. The Empress is a balm to all his wounds :)