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What the Cards Mean: The Emperor



The Emperor: After his encounter with The Empress (Mom), The Fool is ready to meet the next major influence in his life – The Emperor (Dad). The Emperor represents the masculine side of the soul. He is the protector and provider of the family. He is the CEO. The Emperor builds structure, provides discipline and determines goals that the Fool is expected to meet. This may begin in the Fool’s childhood with the Emperor assigning him chores, demanding his room is kept clean and that he finishes his homework on time. In adulthood the Emperor will expect the Fool to dress up in a suit and tie, attend board meetings and figure out how to work a computer. Driven by ambition, self-respect, power, and achievement, the Emperor pushes the Fool to prove himself. He encourages the Fool to own authority, to set goals and not stop until he reaches them. The Emperor may want the Fool to take over the family business, start a new business, or pursue a job with lots of growth potential.


When the Emperor shows up in a reading he could represent your father or any other powerful man with influence over your life such as a husband, brother, boss or mentor. The Emperor can indicate that a big raise or promotion is coming or you may get a promising new job. It could also suggest you are prime to start your own business. The Emperor is all about structure and the structures of society, therefore this card can also suggest entanglements with corporations, the government or the law. A simpler meaning is that you have everything it takes to provide all the necessities of life for your family.


For all of his strengths, however, the Emperor can become rigid in his role of ruler. If reversed or compromised with other cards, he can become tyrannical if he is not well balanced in his life. Since the Emperor is all about setting down the rules he is vindictive when they are broken. He could be an absent or weak father, or the exact opposite-using physical or intellectual strength to intimidate others. The reversed Emperor may only listen to his own version of “facts” and opinions and not those of others. He can dominate others with an unfair advantage and be overly critical and judgmental. Or he may simply give his power away to others, stay weak, small and cowardly and lose control over a situation.


If the reversed Emperor represents you in a spread, he can suggest you have authority issues, feelings of inferiority, or a lack of self-discipline. You may be overly critical and unable to consider the opinions of others. Or you avoid any opportunity to exert your own power. If the Emperor represents a corporation or business it could suggest turmoil, downsizing or a decision that has negative consequences that could impact you in an unfortunate way.


Keywords: Authority, self-made man, CEO, power, achievement, self-respect, structure, ambition. Reversed: Tyranny, inflexibility, weak or absent father, uninterested in other’s opinions, dominate.


Illustrations from The Crystal Visions Tarot Deck were reproduced by permission of U.S. Games Systems, Inc., Stamford, CT 06902. c. (March 7, 2018) by U.S. Games Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.


Photograph by Holly Petersen

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