The Meaning of the Emperor
The Tarot Emperor card meaning in a nutshell:
Major Arcana Tarot Card in Readings
You're up against real power,
so yield or suffer the consequences.
Supreme ruler - irresistible power.
The Tarot Emperor has real concrete power in abundance. He's no politician in need of allies and careful diplomacy. He's raw force. Anybody dealing with him should yield or else perish. On the Tarot Emperor card, he sits firmly on the throne, but in armor - he will stand up and strike at the moment he is challenged. He tolerates nothing but obedience.
We've had a number of emperors through history, several of them so majestic that 'majesty' is not enough to describe them. The first and probably still the most impressive one was Alexander in the 4th century BC, who conquered most of the known world at that time, when he was still a young man.
Below is a later painting of the legendary moment when Alexander cut the Gordian Knot, so complicated that the one to untie it was fit to rule the world. Alexander did so by swinging his sword - a warrior's solution.
Alexander cuts the Gordian Knot, by Jean-Simon Berthélemy, 18th century. Alexander, who lived in the 4th century BC, is still regarded as one of the foremost conquerors.
The Emperor on this Tarot card is indeed a warrior ruler. He sits on a stone throne with his armor on, eager to do battle. The image on the card suggests another warrior ruler, the legendary King Arthur, but it might as well be Alexander, Julius Caesar, Napoleon, or Genghis Khan. It's the ruler with the force and the firmness to strike down any opposition.
The Emperor Card as a Person
So, if the Tarot Emperor card refers to a person, which it often does in divination, it's someone you just have to obey whether you want to or not. He or she has the power to decide the outcome and it would cost you very dearly indeed to oppose. You are likely to be aware of this beforehand, since you know what power you are up against.
The Emperor Card as an Event
If the Tarot Emperor card in your divination spread refers to an event, you have to accept that the outcome is out of your hands. It's decided elsewhere and you just have to comply - or suffer the consequences. As they say: You can't fight city hall.
The Emperor Card as You
If the Tarot Emperor card has a position in the divination spread referring to you, though, it says that you have the power to force the outcome of your choosing, but probably not without a fight. Don't worry, you will win it.
A. E. Waite about the Tarot Emperor Card
Click the header to read what A. E. Waite had to say about the Major Arcana Emperor Tarot card symbolism and meaning in divination.
- The Magician
- The High Priestess
- The Empress
- The Emperor
- The Hierophant
- The Lovers
- The Chariot
- The Hermit
- Wheel of Fortune
- The Hanged Man
- The Devil
- The Tower
- The Star
- The Moon
- The Sun
- The World
- The Fool
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I'm a Swedish author. In addition to fiction, I've written books about the Tarot, Taoism, astrology and other metaphysical traditions. I'm also an historian of ideas, researching ancient mythology. Click the image to get to my personal website.