You cannot understand the Emperor if you are not already familiarised with the Empress, his feminine counterpart. So, we invite you to read this.
Now, let’s see what the masters of tarot say about this major arcana: A. E. Waite, (author of „The Pictorial Key to the Tarot“, in 1911, and creator of the Rider-Waite tarot deck), P. D. Ouspensky (author of „The Symbolism of the Tarot“, 1913), Aleister Crowley (author of „The Book of Thoth“, 1944) and Papus (author of „ The Tarot of the Bohemians “, 1892).
Waite about the Emperor: the Power of this World
The divinatory meaning of the Emperor is, according to A. E. Waite, expressed by the following words: „stability, power, protection, realization; a great person; aid, reason, conviction; also authority and will“.
When it is reversed, this card can signify: „benevolence, compassion, credit; also confusion to enemies, obstruction, immaturity“.
In his chapter about the doctrine behind the veil, Waite describes the Emperor as follows: „ He is executive and realization, the power of this world, here clothed with the highest of its natural attributes“.
In relation with the precedent two Greater Arcana, Waite considers that „he is the virile power, to which the Empress responds, and in this sense is he who seeks to remove the Veil of Isis; yet she remains virgo intacta“.
Ouspensky about the Emperor: the Great Law
When Ouspensky meets him, the majestic figure of the Emperor speaks for himself:
„I am The Great Law, I am the name of God. The four letters of his name are in me and I am in all.
I am in the four principles. I am in the four elements. I am in the four seasons. I am in the four cardinal points. I am in the four signs of the Tarot.
I am the beginning; I am action; I am completion; I am the result.
For him who knows how to see me there are no mysteries on earth.
I am the great Pentacle.
As the earth encloses in itself fire, water and air; as the fourth letter of the Name encloses in itself the first three and becomes itself the first, so my sceptre encloses the complete triangle and bears in itself the seed of a new triangle.
I am the Logos in the full aspect and the beginning of a new Logos“.
Crowley about the Emperor: the Paternal Power
Crowley connects the Emperor with the Hebrew letter Tzaddi and with the zodiac sign of Aries, which is ruled by Mars and therein the Sun is exalted. Ths Greater Arcana is also considered the alchemical symbol of Sulphur – the male fiery energy of the Universe, the Rajas of Hindu philosophy.
Then, the ceremonial magician refers to the type of energy possessed by the emperor: „The power of the Emperor is a generalization of the paternal power; hence such symbols as the Bee and the Fleur-de-lys, which are shown on this card. With regard to the quality of this power, it must be noted that it represents sudden, violent, but impermanent activity. If it persists too long, it burns and destroys“.
Papus about the Emperor: the Will, the Power, the Universal Creative Fluid
The meaning of this card is interpreted at three different levels:
- In the Divine. Reflex of God the Father– THE WILL
- In the Human. Reflex of Adam– THE POWER.
- In the Natural. Reflex of Natura naturans– THE UNIVERSAL CREATIVE FLUID – the soul of the Universe.