About Major Arcana
The Empress tarot card in the major arcana has a more structured nature than the High Priestess, with clearly specified boundaries. While not particularly a bad card when drawn, context will help determine its meaning in tarot.
The Empress Card keywords
Upright (keywords): Nature, nurturing, abundance, birth, caretaking, emotional support, and the feminine divine.
Reversed (keywords): Hardships, doubts, scarcity, bareness, and passive-aggressiveness.
The Empress card in the major arcana has a more structured nature than the High Priestess, with clearly specified boundaries. While not particularly a bad card when drawn, context will help determine its meaning in tarot.
An echo to the traditional concept of the Garden of Venus, the Empress major arcana is a strong, female figure, representing the never-ending growth of nature, and the core woman energy of fertility and fecundity.
The Empress is the mother, gentle but firm, using strong solar energy to radiate life and blessings all around her. She can sometimes be unkind, and offer trials, hardships, and doubt, but always as a means to an end, trying to make sure that the person undergoing them will be changed for the better in the end.
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Upright Empress Tarot Card Meaning
The woman depicted on the Empress card seems confident and authoritative, but she is nonetheless displayed in non-functional cloths with a strong nature under-theme. She has quite a regal aspect that is a match for the next and upcoming card (the Emperor). She often bears a scepter that is a representation of the entire globe, as if she could hold the world. Common symbolism also uses crops or fields to represent the ever-growing force of nature.
As is probably obvious from all the themes of nature and crops used in the description, the meaning of the Empress card is mainly an echo to fertility and even fecundity. This is also a major arcana with strong feminine energy, and it can also represent the presence or influence of a strong female figure in the life of the person.
The major arcana meanings should therefore always keep this thriving, lush, and natural energy when trying to interpret the Empress. This is a direct translation of the figure of the mother, both literally (as in, an actual woman giving birth to a baby) and figuratively (as mother nature, the concept and force of life running through the world).
Since this card represents fertility, in a certain context it can also mean sexual desirability for a woman. However, this does not mean that it should be carelessly acted upon without thinking, because the Empress is a figure of order, support, and protection.
In a Question about Love and Relationship
The number 03 card of the Major Arcana, the Empress, represents the flow and power of love and romance when unbridled by civilization and rules. They are both “forces of nature” and cannot be contained or tamed or otherwise restricted. When this card appears, you need to consider “doing what is natural” regarding love and romance in your life.
If you are single, this card will ask you to consider the nature of your past relationships. What do they all share in common? Where are your blind spots and how do you find a way to overcome them? And, more importantly, what feels natural to you when it comes to love and romance. Perhaps it aligns with classical love stories; perhaps it does not.
If you are in a relationship, this card encourages you to let the relationship flow. Listen to its rhythms and make sure you are in tune and flowing with the current of your partnership. Enjoy the creative nature of love and romance as they enter your life, sustain your relationship, and seek your obedience and exultation.
In a Question about Career and Work
Career encompasses school and education if that is your current stage; work that is necessary, but not what you would consider a career path; and your actual career path. Regardless of your current stage of development, the Empress represents the time in your study and work journey when you need to follow the flow of each level of development and progress with positive intention.
If you are a student and this is your card, then you need to think about how you succeed daily in order to build towards your graduating goals. Pulling the Empress card directs you to think about what you do each day to take care of yourself while accomplishing tasks in the course of your normal studies. Be in touch with and enjoy the creative opportunity that the school presents.
If you are working, but not doing something you would consider a career, then this card will remind you that you are part of a larger system and your role is valuable to the function of the system. It is important to see what you do as an opportunity to help others, and yourself, sustain and benefit society and civilization.
If you are in a career path, then this card can get you thinking about the evolving nature of your career path. Where did you start, how have you grown and evolved, and where would you like to go next? What is the “natural” next step if you allow yourself to trust the work and your passion for your purpose. There is no need to force a situation; let the work come to you.
Reversed Empress Tarot Card Meaning
The Empress card, when reversed, can represent the difficulties with regard to health, personal finances, and family relationships, especially the mother/child dynamic. You may need to take greater care with your nutrition or even require caretaking due to a health or injury issue. If not health-related, the reversed card could indicate difficulty with money and resources, things in need of repair, or scarcity due to demands from others, especially family. A parent/child relationship could be struggling and represent a much-needed break between the two.
In a Question about Love and Relationship
Reversed, this card certainly highlights any negative aspects of your relationship with your mother or primary caretaker and how that plays in your current relationship or search for a relationship. It could indicate some mother/caretaker and child difficulty in your partner’s personality or life that is affecting your relationship that you need to address or acknowledge as a problem. You may need to accept that you are in a co-dependent situation or that one of you is trying to “mother” the other, and you are both allowing it, which is not healthy for a romantic relationship.
In a Question about Career and Work
When this card appears reversed in a question about work or career, then you want to be on your guard for passive-aggressive behavior from your boss or co-workers. You may think you are part of a “family” at work, only to find out that it is an illusion designed to get more work out of you for less pay. Guilt and shaming are the tell-tale signs that the work-family is a dysfunctional one. It could also be a warning that some kind of financial hardship may be brewing with regard to work and you need to look into the health of the company.
The Fool’s Journey
When the Fool meets the Empress on his journey the energies and feelings he experiences are very familiar to them. Indeed, with the strong energy of femininity and motherhood, the Empress is an echo of the Fool’s mother on his spiritual path. Where the Magician and High Priestess represented the two elements of the duality that must be learned to understand life, the Empress represents both primal nature and sensuality, as they start to experience the world around them.
A young toddler on their spiritual path meeting both their Mother and Mother Nature, the Fool learns to experience the world around them through the Empress meaning. This is also where the Fool can experience abundance, as the strong supportive and protective maternal energy of the Empress shields them from need and want.
Meditating with the Empress
You can readily use the Empress card to channel the various energies of prosperity and growth mentioned above during a meditation session. This should allow you to clear your mind, fill it with brand new ideas, and nurture them in a safe environment.
You can also meditate with the Empress card by focusing on the mother nature element and aspect of the major arcana. Visualizing a peaceful brook or a lush forest can shield you against the constant stress that is more often than not encountered in everyday modern life.
Philip Young, PhD, is a spiritual adviser located in Cary, North Carolina. He provides spiritual guidance using different tools: astrology, tarot/oracle cards, numerology, and past life regression (using muscle testing).