The Tarot Empress card meaning in a nutshell:
The gentle power that still rules,
almost unnoticed and rarely opposed.
The Tarot Empress is a ruler, make no mistake about that, but a gentle one getting her will by peaceful means. She suggests and convinces, making her choices seem like the only reasonable ones. Quite often they are. If you follow the Tarot Empress you will have a pleasant ride, but if you oppose her it will all be uphill.
While the Tarot Emperor is armed for battle and eager to engage in it, the Empress remains on her throne, relaxed, getting things done seemingly without any effort. If the Emperor is a warrior, she's a politician. He might win the war, but the Tarot Empress controls the land during the peace that follows.
The ways of the Tarot Empress are so soft and gentle that even her enemies feel blessed, while she strips them of their power and turns them into loyal subjects, whether they are aware of it or not.
The Tarot Empress is what's called the enlightened monarch, an expression used (and debated) for rulers, especially of the late 18th century, who had cultural and academic ambitions for their countries inspired by the ideas of the Enlightenment. One such monarch was Catherine the Great of Russia, who is portrayed in all her splendor on the painting below by Alexander Roslin in 1777.
Catherine the Great of Russia. One of the so-called enlightened monarchs, allegedly using wisdom instead of brute force to rule. Painting by Alexander Roslin, 1777.
If the Tarot Empress card represents a person, it's somebody very resourceful that you do best to humor and get on your side, or listen carefully to if that's not going to happen.
If teh Tarot Empress card represents an event, it calls for calmness and careful consideration of the choices of action, since things are much more delicate than they may seem. Also, it suggests that if you find the patterns behind the obvious, then you can accomplish much more than anyone at first imagined.
A. E. Waite's Texts
3. The Empress, who is sometimes represented with full face, while her correspondence, the Emperor, is in profile. As there has been some tendency to ascribe a symbolical significance to this distinction, it seems desirable to say that it carries no inner meaning. The Empress has been connected with the ideas of universal fecundity and in a general sense with activity.
About the Tarot Empress Card
The Inner Symbolism of the Tarot Empress Card
A stately figure, seated, having rich vestments and royal aspect, as of a daughter of heaven and earth. Her diadem is of twelve stars, gathered in a cluster. The symbol of Venus is on the shield which rests near her. A field of corn is ripening in front of her, and beyond there is a fall of water. The sceptre which she bears is surmounted by the globe of this world. She is the inferior Garden of Eden, the Earthly Paradise, all that is symbolized by the visible house of man. She is not Regina coeli, but she is still refugium peccatorum, the fruitful mother of thousands. There are also certain aspects in which she has been correctly described as desire and the wings thereof, as the woman clothed with the sun, as Gloria Mundi and the veil of the Sanctum Sanctorum; but she is not, I may add, the soul that has attained wings, unless all the symbolism is counted up another and unusual way. She is above all things universal fecundity and the outer sense of the Word. This is obvious, because there is no direct message which has been given to man like that which is borne by woman; but she does not herself carry its interpretation.
In another order of ideas, the card of the Empress signifies the door or gate by which an entrance is obtained into this life, as into the Garden of Venus; and then the way which leads out therefrom, into that which is beyond, is the secret known to the High Priestess: it is communicated by her to the elect. Most old attributions of this card are completely wrong on the symbolism - as, for example, its identification with the Word, Divine Nature, the Triad, and so forth.
Divinatory Meaning of the Tarot Empress Card
Fruitfulness, action, initiative, length of days; the unknown, clandestine; also difficulty, doubt, ignorance. Reversed: Light, truth, the unravelling of involved matters, public rejoicings; according to another reading, vacillation.
The Tarot Major Arcana
- 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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