card meanings & free reading


The Emperor

The Emperor Major Arcana Tarot card.

The Meaning of the Emperor
Major Arcana Tarot Card in Readings

The Tarot Emperor card meaning in a nutshell:
You're up against real power,
so yield or suffer the consequences.

Supreme ruler — irresistible power.

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Tarot Unfolded. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Tarot Unfolded

This book presents all the 78 Tarot card images and their allegorical symbols. Several divination spreads are also explained. The book will help you find your own intuitive way of making inspired Tarot card readings. Click the image to see the book at Amazon (paid link).

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       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 Berthelemy, 18th century.
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 Major Arcana Tarot Cards

  1. The Magician

  2. The High Priestess

  3. The Empress

  4. The Emperor

  5. The Hierophant

  6. The Lovers

  7. The Chariot

  8. Strength

  9. The Hermit

  10. Wheel of Fortune

  11. Justice

  12. The Hanged Man

  13. Death

  14. Temperance

  15. The Devil

  16. The Tower

  17. The Star

  18. The Moon

  19. The Sun

  20. Judgement

  21. The World

  22. The Fool

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I Ching Online

The 64 hexagrams of the Chinese classic I Ching and what they mean in divination. Free online reading.

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How predictions are done in classical astrology with the full horoscope chart. Many examples.

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Creation stories from around the world, and the ancient beliefs about the world and the gods as revealed by the myths.

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Your Health in Your Horoscope. Book by Stefan Stenudd.

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Life Energy Encyclopedia. Book by Stefan Stenudd.

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Archetypes of Mythology. Book by Stefan Stenudd.

Archetypes of Mythology

Jungian theories on myth and religion examined, from Carl G. Jung to Jordan B. Peterson.

Stefan Stenudd, Swedish author of fiction and non-fiction. Stefan Stenudd

About me

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.