According to legend, the Egyptian sages, fearing that their sacred knowledge would one day be lost, decided to hide it in the last place where ill-intentioned people would think to find it: a simple deck of cards. Such would be the origin of the Tarot and in particular of the Tarot de Marseille which, in addition to being a marvelous divination tool, contains a true treasure, the esoteric and initiatory knowledge of ancient Egypt, itself heir to ancient Atlantis. Today we will study the fourth card or arcana: the Emperor.
To understand the meaning and symbolism of a tarot card, it is important to analyze its shapes and colors. Here, we are in the presence of a male character. But while the Bateleur is hairless, the Emperor has a full white beard. This refers to the idea of virility, wisdom and experience that emanate from this person. We can also draw a parallel with the Empress who precedes him. Like her, he sits on a throne, a symbol of royalty, and holds a scepter. But while the Empress held it with her left hand, the yin, receptive, feminine side, the Emperor holds it firmly with his right hand, the yang, action hand. Moreover, he holds it straight, in front of him, on his right hand, whereas the Empress held it bent over, symbol of the phallus that fecundates. Another parallel, the shield with an eagle on it that the empress was holding with her left arm is now under the emperor who is sitting on it. What was only potential in gestation in Arcanum III has now fully materialized.
In addition, other details catch our eye on this card. The Emperor wears a crown that ends in a spiral at the back of his head. This represents the Kundalini, or life energy that rises via the spine to the coronal chakra at the top of the head. To succeed in releasing this formidable energy, the adept must succeed in mastering and channeling his sexual energy. This is represented to us by the golden belt that the Emperor holds in his left hand. The Emperor also wears a golden necklace that goes down to his heart. This indicates to us that our character has an office, a noble responsibility that he must fulfill with both love and firmness. Finally, if we take a closer look, the top of the image forms a triangle with the Emperor’s head as the apex, while his feet form the cross of the four elements. This is, in alchemy, the symbol of sulfur, the male energy of the creative fire in the universe.
Similarly, we can see that the landscape behind the Emperor is barren and warns us that the male principle without the female principle is sterile, and vice versa.
This arcanum refers to the idea of action in the world, of concretization by applying one’s strength of will on the world. It also evokes self-confidence and the assertion of one’s authority through the mastery of human passions. It can announce the obtaining of a new position of responsibility,
General meaning of the Emperor: Self-control, authority, stability, strength, confidence.
Reversed meaning : Inconstancy, weakness, lack of self-confidence or conversely, egocentrism, tyranny, despotism.
Astrological correspondences: Mars, Aries, the 1st house (the self)
Other correspondences: The husband, the father, the boss or superior, a man of mature age or occupying an influential position, the head, the adrenals.