4- The Emperor

This article is part of a series of posts that will compare each card in the Tarot across different decks in order to study and explore each archetype and concept more deeply. This is not necessarily meant to be a teaching tool for others, but if you like to study the Tarot as much as I do, I hope you find it interesting. Enjoy!

For more on the decks referenced here please another page in my blog: Tools of the Locksmith: https://wordpress.com/page/theramblinglocksmith.com/163

A major reference for this study was “Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom” by Rachel Pollack.

This week we explore the what we learn as we move from the natural world into society, how to learn and provide rules and structure how that might play out in the role of leadership – the Emperor.

The Emperor is the archetype of setting up rules and order in society and having the authority to enforce them. In the traditional descriptions of this card there is an idea that the natural world is chaotic, and if we marry the power of the natural world (The Empress) to some societal structure we can move out of survival mode and create the stability that could allow spiritual development – (a foreshadowing of next weeks card of The Hierophant).

There are a couple of elements that are key for the traditional versions of the Emperor card. I will list them here and then lets see what choices have been made in some less traditional decks.

  • The structure of the throne the Emperor sits on is full of rigidity and iron. He sits centered on the throne on a very rigid posture. All of this emphasizes the idea of order and structure.
  • He holds an Ankh – the Egyptian symbol of life to represent the power of life and death
  • There are four rams on the throne representing the symbol of the first sign of the zodiac – Aries. This supports the idea of the new life of spring emerging from a just society.

In the Tarot of the Divine the Emperor is represented by King Arthur, maybe the most fatherly of all the examples here. King Arthur fought alongside his people and provided unity for the knights of the round table.

One idea of the Emperor is that he provides cold hard facts without compassion for his people, and that can be the negative side of the card – gaining too much power and becoming disconnected from people to become a dictator.

But this version in King Arthur is the idea of providing leadership and structure out of care for the land and its people. We can be a leader and still show vulnerability to our community/team. If this idea of compassionate ruler speaks to you today, examine where you can bring more compassion in your own leadership, show vulnerability, or influence that in other leaders.

The Voyager Tarot card for the Emperor for me shows a lot of the elements and aspects of leadership and development. On one hand we have the Emperor as a builder and not just a ruler with the pictures of the hands holding a young sapling, and the different examples of groundbreaking architecture in the card. There is also the dark side of the Emperor which only has a focus on material wealth at the bottom of the card.

But what does it take to build and lead? Just a strong will? Or balance in the other areas like the mental clarity of the eagle, the emotional strength of the whale, and the physical energy of the ram. This card brings along the idea of how much an effective leader or leadership structure has to have balance and not just rules.

If you are a leader where could you be more balanced? What could you add to your toolbox to gain this? What if you think about leading and guiding your own path, what tools could you use to create a more balanced structure?

This Emperor Card from the Light Seers Tarot still has a lot of the same traditional elements, but somehow I find this Emperor more accessible. I’m not sure if its the more laidback tone of the card that seems more familiar, or if we finally see a representation of an authority figure that is from a different race or ethnicity.

More than any other card in the tarot, it seems the hardest for the Emperor card to be represented by anything other than a white European male. I’ve read a few articles on the successes and failures of inclusion in tarot decks, and while I get that it originates from white European society, I live in the modern world and want to see the modern world reflected in my readings. For me that means seeing more than one culture represented in the deck so its more representative of the world, and in the case the leadership styles found in other cultures – many of them female.

So then what of the message of the card? I would say to make sure that your leadership and building of structures, and visions for the future include representation and diversity of thought, and if you don’t have that currently to study or discuss ways to get it.

A very literal idea here of growth through cerebral things versus emotional or spiritual leadership in the Way Home tarot as a tree grows out of a brain in this card.

Another idea of the emperor is that he/she is not just a builder or a leader but also a visionary that can create and share a vision with his team.

An additional idea that this card brings is the Emperor as protector of the forest. What internally or externally do you feel needs stronger protection, and what vision can you provide to do this? Even more so, what is your latest vision for the future?

Sometimes when we have a truly unique vision others may not understand its purpose or be able to see it with us right away. This Bull Elk from the Brady Tarot seems to be lonely at the top, but a true visionary will be comfortable being alone at least at first so that decisions that no one else are willing to make – really hard decisions – can be made.

The elk has the companion of an Eagle representing in this case spiritual guidance – its what the elk uses to keep himself grounded and also to ensure he is making decisions for the greater good and not just to grow his own empire.

Who or what is your eagle? Do you have a difficult call to make that may be unpopular with others but that you know is the right thing to do? If so call on the energy of the Emperor and make sure you know what you need to do for grounding.

The Tarot of Mystic Moments has a much more whimsical take on the Emperor. He still has the structure and vision of some of the prior cards with the castle coming from his head, and he is decorated with medals showing his authority has been earned. But to me the whimsical nature of the card gives me one more aspect of the Emperor which is not to take the structure or yourself too seriously. If we are too rigid, or we cannot show any sense of humor or vulnerability, those we are trying to lead may not be able to relate to us or trust us.

Is there a subject you are taking too seriously? Make sure what you lead brings you joy and that you can still laugh at yourself.

I hope this article has brought you joy today!

Weekly Reading July 25, 2021

Loyalty is a Double Edged Sword

One of my favorite things to do is to use multiple decks to evolve the threads of intuition. This week I started with my newly procured Angels and Ancestors Oracle Deck, and the image of the Shield Maiden. I haven’t looked up the meaning in the guidebook yet. I’m going to listen to her first. She is telling me to focus and plan carefully. Keep my sword at the ready but also my shield.

Next I pulled three cards from my Animal Totems and I Ching deck. The Card of Loyalty (Dog). Dedication, Enthusiasm Support. The corresponding I Ching Hexagram to this is 16 – Enthusiasm and talks about obedience and devotion obtained from forming an enthusiastic army.

The overall theme from this reading is the responsibility of loyalty once you have been given it from your team, and what you have a duty to do with that loyalty to make sure you are acting in the best interest of the community/team/family/yourself.

The other two cards from the Animal Totem deck were #56 (The wanderer – Distraction – Opossum – Theatrics). And #57 (The Gentle – Pursuit – Moth – Intuition/Insight). I felt that these two cards represented two different ways to treat loyalty – a healthy option and an unhealthy option. I also drew two cards from the Osho Zen tarot to augment these two choices – Sharing (Queen of Fire) and Clinging to Past (5 of water).

One way to treat loyalty is to take it for granted and continue to tie it to past events. This is a distraction and amounts to posturing. It does not respect the loyalty you have earned. It also traps yourself and your team/community/family in a box from the past instead of seeing what choices need to be made in the future. Focus on the past will not result in a positive outcome. While we should celebrate and reflect on the reasons we have formed a team or community we also have a responsibility to move forward with focus and determination. We can then put into place ideas and actions that move the team forward. Especially if we are the leader of that team or community.

Staying in and clinging to a box from the past is not loyalty – its unhealthy attachement. And there is no greater distraction from connecting with the present moment.

Instead we can share our gifts of intuition, and use insight to decide how to move the team/community/relationship forward. Loyalty is a gift, not a shackle. You can be a strong leader and still be gentle, transparent with your reasoning behind decisions, and share the rewards of any accomplishments. This is the message of the Queen of Fire – to give back freely.

And this stoking of the creative fires of the team through generosity is likely to result in even greater enthusiasm and loyalty, and a better result using the encouragement of the creative collective energy of the team.

Weekly Reading, June 6, 2021

Under Pressure

The arrows are a tough road, its the road of the mind, and it can get a little dicey. In the 8 of arrows from the Brady deck we have several scrub jays pummeling a hawk with words and sometimes even nips of the beak. Not only that but it looks like 8 arrows have come from below the hawk, so it feels like its being attached from above and below.

Do you feel like you are being overwhelmed by the words of others, or by the information coming at you from the news or social media? Maybe you are just overwhelmed with an abundance of ideas and are not sure where to focus.

In any case this week’s reading seems to be trying to answer that, and it offered three options. Before I dive into the options I would remind the reader that the major arcana that corresponds to 8s of any suit is Strength, and I’m not talking just about physical strength. The first place to look in any difficulty is your own inner strength and council. Quiet your mind and find your center and then proceed accordingly.

The first option seems a little harsh. It appears the advice is to burn down the tree that you are standing on. Does that really get rid of the source of the arrows or the words though? I would think not. This is what I would call the nuclear option, and I would only use it if you are ready to take a journey to a new eco-system entirely.

Usually when I see the tower card it represents letting go of what no longer serves us. If that is the true source of the noise from the scrub jays and/or the arrows then by all means, burn down the tree and start over. But if that is not the root of the problem, then the problem will just move to the next tree with you.

Here is an interesting option. Make peace with the birds, or at least one of them. Create a union of opposing forces by uniting them with a common purpose or goal. The squawking may turn to harmony or even downright singing. It seems like a better option than burning down the tree no?

Give it a shot! See the eagle? Its a divine spirit that is presiding over the union of the whooping cranes. If you can’t think of a purpose with which to unite those in opposition look for an eagle who has already done this and seek their advice.

A third option….master the arrows. Use discipline, insight, and emotional detachment to understand what each arrows purpose is and where you can use it to your benefit. This Mother of Arrows knows that one of the arrows can be used to open a gourd and feed her young ones.

Organize the arrows and learn about each one, then master the use of each one and use the arrows as tools. Once you have done this the birds will become curious and will want to learn the tools too.

I’m sure these aren’t the only options in this scenario, and if one of these doesn’t speak to you, then I encourage you do your own reading and find one that works for you.