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The Fool | Chariot | Death | Judgement | Justice | Strength | Temperance | The Devil | The Emperor | The Empress | The Lover | The Hanged Man | The Hermit | The Hierophant | The High Priestess | The Magician | The Moon | The Sun | The Star | The Tower | Wheel of Fortune | The World

Meaning of the Tarot card The Empress

Description and symbolism

Some frequent keywords are:

Mothering ----- Fertility ----- Sexuality ----- Abundance

Material prosperity ----- Pleasure ----- Comfort ----- Power

Nature ----- Delight ----- Desire ----- Physical attraction

Health ----- Sensuality ----- Beauty ----- Satisfaction

She sits on a throne wearing a starry crown, holding a scepter in one hand. The Scepter is representative of her power over life, her crown has 12 stars representing her dominance over the year, and her throne is in the midst of a field of grain, representative of her dominion over growing things.

History

The Empress has had a rather uneventful five centuries. Waite and other occultists are responsible for the starry crown, the emblem of Venus, the waterfall, and the vegetation and wildlife. The Hermitage informs us that in historical decks the Empress sits on a throne, almost always holding a shield or orb in one hand and a sceptre in the other. The shield typically bears an eagle as the heraldic emblem of the Holy Roman Empire.

Interpretation

The most direct interpretation of the Empress card would be that it simply depicts the Emperor's consort. The Empress and Emperor are Mother and Father, transposed from rulership of the household to rulership of the world. She is the power of nurturing and love, that harmonizes and unifies. The Empress is one of the cards which is generally poorly understood. She represents the archetypal female. The idea of being the Mother carries with it the idea of the bringing forth of the next generation - and this is where the heart of the Empress can be understood.

Mythopoetic Approach

She is the Queen of Heaven, as shown by her crown of stars. She is the Great Goddess, the consort of the dying god. She's associated through her cross sum (the sum of the digits) with Key 12 The Hanged Man, the Dying God, her Son (or daughter) and Consort, who dies at Autumn Equinox or Winter Solstice, and is reborn with Winter Solstice, Spring Equinox, or Beltane. She's also associated with Key 21, The World, the final card of the Tarot. Through death, rebirth, and reproduction the world is renewed. She is associated with Isis, both as the mistress of heaven and as the Ur-Poisoner. According to some tales, Isis achieved the queenship of heaven by poisoning Ra with a serpent and refusing to heal him until he told her his secret name. Isis's consort was Osiris, who is about as good an example of The Hanged Man as one can find in world mythology. The Empress is closely associated with the suits of Disks (Earth) and Wands (fire/masculine generative force). She is the mistress of the Knights (12th cards of the Minor Arcana), who as Grail Knights are in some sense searching for her, and, like their counterpart in the Major Arcana, the Hanged Man, may well die for her. She is also associated with Ishtar and Inanna, who went alive into the underworld and came back. She is sometimes associated with Demeter, the mother of Persephone. When Hades, the lord of the underworld, kidnapped and raped Persephone, Demeter stopped everything from growing until a deal was struck whereby Persephone spends part of the year with her, part of the year dead. The fruit on her gown suggests a pomegranate. The pomegranate, of course, is the fruit that Persephone thoughtlessly or hungrily ate in the underworld, which binds her too it for part of every year. It also suggests the wall hanging behind The High Priestess's throne, veiling us from the greater mysteries. When she appears in a spread, she may represent life itself asserting itself through our attempts to master it. It can represent the smothering of a blanket of ivy paralyzes and chokes the forest. She often represents mothers, good and bad, or the demands of the real world. She also represents blood flowing through all living things, the womb and the tomb. The Empress may also represent the Object of Desire. Most obviously, the love of the beloved, the love and approval of parents, especially (but not solely) mothers. While this may be healthy, over attachment to the object (or to the idea of the object) can be a danger sign. If the Empress is the Object of Desire, the Hanged Man (or a Hanged Man substitute from the Minor Arcana) is the one who desires. This can inspire Great Works, or trap the Querant in pathology. Attachment can lead to death, metaphorically or otherwise. When The Empress kills (again, metaphorically or otherwise), it is usually by consuming, suffocating, or poisoning. The Empress may represent the veil of illusion, Maya (illusion). In the Book of Thoth deck, she holds a lotus in her hand, associating her with the mother of the Buddha, the mother of the knowledge that transcends the world. In her beneficent aspect, she gives, nurtures, and/or celebrates life. In her negative aspect, she takes it, either literally or figuratively.


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