Journey into the Tarot: The Emperor



The Tarot’s Emperor loves stability.  His number is 4, suggesting the four corners of a building or four legs of a chair that provide a grounded support.  The Hebrew letter that corresponds to the Emperor is Heh, which means window, a square through which we can look out from a building of human construction into the natural world.   The Emperor has a firm foundation and clear boundaries. Nothing appears to shake him.

This stability is a great source of the Emperor’s authority.  It allows him to be a leader seemingly without his own needs who can concentrate on leading and serving others.  (This stability can also lead to rigidity and that is why he needs the flowing Empress to shake him up periodically, but that is for another post.)

The majority of Emperor images emphasize these qualities by showing him seated on a throne and cards that skip the throne often position connected to a tree.  Here is the RWS version and the Gaian Tarot version

The throne or chair became the symbol central to last Wednesday’s Journey into the Tarot with the Emperor as we explored the positive qualities of this wisdom figure and were invited by the Emperor to sit in a our own chair of authority.  There was a fascinating range from the Arthurian-inspired to the meditation-inspired.  Authority and leadership today is still necessary, but clearly is taking a wider variety of forms that in the past.

Inspired by the Rider-Waite-Smith image with its rams’ heads decorating the throne – yes, the traditional can still serve an inspiration for finding new realities! – our Emperor guide also invited participants to see an emblem on their chair that represented the source of their authority for being and leading in the world.  My own emblem at first was a Spiral (an image of Divinity for me) and as I looked longer the center started to swim and I was looking through a portal into swirling, star-birthing galaxies.  Truly, the imagination can take us to exciting places.

These meditations will continue just about every Wednesday at 8:30pmET by telephone until we have journeyed with each Major Arcana card.  Send me an e-mail (carolyn – at – artofchangetarot – dot – com) if you would like to participate and I’ll send you the details.

You can also turn to your Tarot deck for inspiration in identifying the seat and emblem of your authority for being and leading in the world.  Here is a suggested process for your use and modification.

  • Shuffle and cut a deck as you normal would.
  • Pull a card in response to the question:  What is the source of my authority for being and leading in the world? Explore its meaning with intuitive responses and traditional Tarot meaning.  What does it suggest about your authority?  What kind of chair would be suggested by this kind of authority?
  • Next pull a card that will somewhere on it contain the inspiration for the emblem of your authority.  When you turn the card over see where your eye is first drawn.  This most likely is or will spark understanding of your emblem.  Even if it at first seems odd stick with it for a while.  If it seems completely off, you can spend more time exploring the card.
  • Make it real. Did you identify a kind of chair?  Go sit in it!  Are you finding your emblem?  Draw it or carve it or sculpt it and put it on your chair.
[Note:  Images used with permission.  Rider Waite Smith Emperor ® US Games Systems, Used with permission of U.S. Games Systems, Inc.]

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