The emperor tarot card is the prime incarnation of masculine energy within the major arcana of the tarot deck. As such, it will mainly embody all the stereotypes traditionally attributed to the male gender in modern society. It can also represent a specific person, usually a man, though it could be a woman with a particularly masculine energy.
Traditional meanings associated with the Emperor card
The Emperor tarot card represents the traditional and stereotypical male figure of authority, a king or a leader. Context will determine whether this is a reference to someone about to influence the Querent’s life or simply something temporary. Wise, regal, and intellectual more than physical, the Emperor is the archetypal father figure that can be relied on.
Upright: Structure, authority, rules, order, authority, stability, a father or father figure.
Reversed: Frustration, helplessness, abuse of power, immaturity.
Upright Emperor card meaning
The male figure depicted on the emperor card is usually seated on a throne, and bears the garment and tools of a monarch (usually, a crown, a scepter, and a globe). The way he is sat on the throne commands respect, as he is an incarnation of stately authority.
Where the Empress was depicted in a background remindful of nature, here there is usually nothing organic in the background, to represent a more intellectual environment. The Empress ruled over nature, the Emperor rules over the higher realms of wisdom and thought, leaving physical matters behind to focus on immaterial concepts.
As stated above, the Emperor tarot meaning embodies most of the stereotypical values of the male gender. Authority, power, achievements, and willpower. This is a card that highlights a need for structure and discipline, something orderly that must make sense of the chaos around.
The regal, noble aspect of the Emperor card can also easily be read as the presence of a great figure of authority in the Querent’s life. Their Father, of course, but it could also represent any person holding some sort of power over them, like a teacher or the boss of their company. When found right side up, unless surrounded with more negative cards this is usually a positive influence, as long as the effective hierarchy is understood and respected.
Reversed Emperor card meaning
The emperor tarot card, when reversed, can either be a sign of benevolence and compassion in a positive context (a person gifted with authority deliberately yielding some to do some good or make a moral choice) or conversely to highlight potential trouble brewing due to excessive use of authority in a reckless way (systematic obstruction to any project, immature use of power without any regard to the consequences). A police officer abusing his authority with no regard to the limits of the law would be a good example too, or a corrupt politician using the system to their own benefit.
The Fool’s Journey
After meeting their Mother, any child learns to recognize their Father. And indeed, the Emperor tarot card represents the father figure for the Fool as they go further along in their journey. Like the traditional and stereotypical role of the father in modern society (no matter how outdated it might seem), the Emperor is here to offer the Fool a lesson in structure and authority.
The Fool learns to make sense of their sensory intake through learning rules that will create a pattern in their life. Anything that falls outside the realm of chaos and that is predictable falls within the Emperor’s domain. This is a card that promotes order over chaos.
The Emperor love tarot
When drawn in a love context, the emperor tarot card usually represents a very significant man in the life of the Querent. Since it also highlights the importance of structure, the emperor tarot card in future position could be a card heralding an impending marriage, or a choice to renew previous vows and make them even stronger overall.
While in a romantic relationship context it often means that the other person is the dominant one in the couple, it also means that their commitment is genuine and strong, ready to offer love, support, stability, and respect without trying to weasel out of it.
Be mindful of a reversed Emperor tarot card in a love reading however, as it might be a sign of an abusive spouse, so do not let anyone turn into a control freak and make your own decisions for yourself.
The Emperor as a focus for meditation
You can select the Emperor for a session of meditation if you need to channel willpower and determination within yourself. The traditionally male stereotypes can be channeled to improve your confidence and authority, in a way turning you into the regal and commanding presence depicted on this arcanum.
You can also meditate using the emperor tarot card if you feel the need to center your thoughts again as you tackle with a particularly tough problem or situation. This will enhance your own drive and motivation to focus on that problem and solve it. As long as you remember who you are and are full of benevolence, you should avoid most of the negative aspects regularly found when reading the Emperor card.