The Emperor is seen sitting on his throne, his head tilted towards the sun. He observes the higher wisdom which comes from above, and keeps an eye on – and maintains – the kingdom that he rules. He is a natural leader, focused predominantly on structure, law, order, and discipline, and maintains a logical approach to how civilizations should be structured.
When you draw the Emperor in a reading, this indicates bringing your attention to the control or power that you have in your life, both with yourself and towards others. It marks the structure by which you live your life, and the relationship that you have with other men, including your father. Finally, the emperor speaks to leadership and organization from the perspective of using logic and rationality to make good decisions to the betterment of everyone.
Patch now experiences yet another polarity change within his consciousness, expanding into experience the mature male “yang” energy of that of his previous experience as the Magician. Where The Magician was simply a raw expression of the elements, and The Priestess was understanding how to move and flow intuitively through life, now Patch recognizes himself as the spirit of structure, establishment, and stability. In this he has become the protective father, the leader who must provide social structure to the next generation to come. Since he exists as a father figure who watches over his family and protects those who are in need, he sits with a shield for divine protection, which describes that when acting from a pure place of divine masculine energy, spiritual protection is always present.
He has his head turned towards the large sun, symbolizing that he must always look in two directions, first towards the heavens for inspiration and wisdom from higher sources, and to also support and lead wherever the community is going. His head is tilted to the right, looking towards the empress, who will carry his spark of light, and nurture it into a new consciousness.
Bringing awareness to our own power and self control, The Emperor is a call for us to observe the varying degrees of structure in which we live and operate by. There are personal rules that we have identified with and practice in our own lives, then there are social structures and the laws of society that we have put in place, and finally we have a much higher “laws of nature” which govern everything in the cosmos.
These laws of nature are built into our very DNA, and we must strive for continuous improvement of our personal and social structures to become more in line with the cosmic, natural flow.
And as far as structures go, it can be very important to set up certain structures and guidelines for yourself, so that you can easily move from where you are, to where you want to be. If you are creating a project or bringing an idea to physical manifestation, then creating a plan around it helps support your goal.
Therefore, The Emperor describes that you must practice and step into your leadership. With determination and willpower, there is nothing you cannot do. It just takes the fortitude to direct and command yourself into action, and become the authentic driver of your life. This will create a foundation from which you can move forward from, and from there – anything is possible.
P.S. You may notice that The Emperor and The Empress positions have been switched from traditional Tarot decks. This was done incredibly purposefully. For those interested in learning why, we have written about the decision on the Major Arcana page, and have gone into even greater detail in “The Book of Patch”, available in our store now.
The Emperor reversed stands to suggest that when too much control is exerted to the point of excess and dominion becomes domination, it causes us to be unable to move or change where and when required. Here, life becomes a prison of inescapable logic forever turning in on itself but ultimately having a lack of any sort of purpose in and of itself other than to exercise one’s ego.
The Emperor reversed is a tyrannical leader, and completely foregoes any emotional feeling; the sense of wonder and fantasy is all but lost. Finally, when The Emperor is reversed it may even speak to challenges that you have with your father (or as a father to your children), and something that needs to be addressed in your personal life.
To turn this reversed card upright, we are invited to see where we may be acting too strict towards certain aspects of our lives, either towards ourselves or with those around us. If we are putting up strict guidelines that are too constricting, we can lose the original sense of passion that made us want to participate in the activity in the first place, or cause others to become frustrated and lose their motivation as a result. By softening in this way, we can get back to our true roots, and embody a spirit which is both structured and adaptable all at the same time.
The Book of Thoth
The Golden Dawn
The Tarot Handbook