The Emperor In The Pride Tarot

© US Games Systems, Inc

“This card particularly intends to depict a more masculine energy from a powerful female figure as you can see with her physical demeanor.” – by Caroline Kaplan (Pride Tarot Guidebook, © US Games Systems, Inc)

Suggested Archetype: Leader

As the Pride deck’s Empress is the embodiment of pangender femininity; the Emperor is likewise that for pangender masculinity. In archetypal psychology, this is the Leader. The Leader reveals themselves in stories of deities, monarchs, military leaders, CEOs, and parents. Leaders structure the environment around them and create laws to support that structure. They strive for excellence and sustainability. They are very achievement driven as they create, maintain, and nurture organizations. But it is very hard to be a true leader. Leaders are prone to corruption. The only thing that can stop a leader from becoming corrupt is the leader’s own moral compass and applying True Will to their course.

The corrupt or qlippothic Leader is The Tyrant. The Tyrant imposes their will on others for very self-serving purposes. The Tyrant finds emotional gratification in oppressing and subjugating others. Too much experience with Tyrants (as parents, employers, religious and political figures) has made it very hard for people, especially from marginalized communities, to trust Leaders.

Primary Symbolism

The throne: Broad, square and firm, thrones are an ancient symbol of monarchy and the stability that a monarch ideally provides. Thrones are generally imposing to give the monarch psychological advantage over their court, visiting envoys and supplicants. This particular throne has four ram’s heads which go back to the conventional association of zodiacal Aries with The Emperor card. This association of a ram with monarchs and masculinity is ancient. The placement of the ram’s heads in this specific version of the Emperor helps exemplify that their domain expands outward from themselves and their seat of power.

The armor: Both literally and figuratively, armor is a symbol of protection. Iron is esoterically associated with the Yang principle, as is the Emperor themselves. This particular suit of iron armor is completely customized to suit its Emperor’s form. The armor’s style symbolizes their desirability and capability in getting their desires met.

The scepter and the sword: These are weapons of political power and military authority respectively. Held vertically parallel with one another, the suggestion is made that both will prudently but decisively used. The style of both is utilitarian and practical; they are tools and not ornaments.

The crown: The shape and style of this Emperor’s crown are unusual. It makes me think of a clam shell. Crowns in general symbolize power and authority. I’m speculating that the artist chose the shape of this crown to help convey this Emperor as female, possibly biologically cis-gendered. I interpret the Emperor’s unusual crown to mean they reject biased stereotypes of being female but embrace womanhood on their own terms.

Reading The Emperor In General

Upright this card might mean:

  • You should act decisively from a place of power and experience. Take charge of this situation.
  • This specific problem might require calling an authority (doctor, lawyer, therapist, law enforcement officer, social worker, manager, etc.,) for help.
  • Focus on the long-term goal by being very achievement-oriented in the process of getting from here to there.
  • The person this card represents is ethical and can be trusted in a leadership position but they do have high expectations and are performance-driven.

Reversed this card might mean:

  • The person in charge of this project/organization is not a good leader.
  • The person this card represents might be a bully or the victim of a bully.
  • The outcome is not auspicious, things are disorganized or there obstacles that need to be tackled first before any chance real of success. Perhaps you need a different strategy.
  • Do not attack this problem from a place of outrage or any other negative emotion. Calm down first, then address the matter more rationally.

The Emperor In Questions About Relationships

You as The Emperor Upright: You have an extroverted alpha personality. You feel most secure when you have control over how your environment is structured and influence over what happens and when it happens. The most sustainable relationships for you are going to be with people who appreciate all of this about you. You should look for a partner whose lifestyle and goals complement your own. You will be happiest when you and your partner engage and challenge each other in fun and exciting ways.

You as The Emperor Reversed: Take a good look at yourself and recent life events. If you are angry, overwhelmed and things feel out of control? It might be the time to sort through and work at fixing specific problems with the help of an impartial party (counselor, pastor, lawyer, ombudsmen. etc.,). Consider repairing existing relationships before starting any new ones.

The Other Person As The Emperor Upright: The other person is an extroverted alpha type personality. Take a good look at your compatibility. Decide if you are ready for a relationship with someone who is very extroverted and dominating. You might need a lot of cheerful patience and adaptability but if that sounds fun? Go for it.

The Other Person As The Emperor Reversed: This card suggests that at this stage in their life, this person is a bad choice for a (romantic or other) partner. Think through what you know about them and see if you can list specific reasons why they’d be a bad choice. Now look at the list and decide what to do.

“Do not make assumptions about things you know nothing about. An emperor serves his people. The day the people serve the emperor is the day the empire falls.”

― Devin Madson

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