top of page
  • Writer's pictureAdept Augur

The Emperor - Tarot Card Meaning

Updated: May 8

The Emperor is the fourth card in the Major Arcana of the Tarot deck. He represents ideas of dominance and control, both the control that we have over ourselves and others. The card can relate to self-discipline and assertiveness, but also our power within hierarchies and structures.

The Emperor Major Arcana Tarot Card - Various Examples

Upright Tarot Card Meanings - In Brief

In the upright position, The Emperor is a symbol of authority and power. It can represent our confidence in our ability to make decisions and lead others, and our ambition and steadfastness when it comes to our personal goals. It can also highlight the power that we have within shared structures.

Reversed Tarot Card Meanings - In Brief

When The Emperor is reversed, it can suggest that our power has gone awry. It may be that we are trying to command others over whom we have little control and that this is a source of frustration. Or it could reveal that we are suffering from “imposter syndrome” and therefore not exercising the power that we have.

Number - 4

The number 4 represents the underlying foundations upon which everything in our lives is built. Strong foundations are necessary to build tall and strong. If there are inconsistencies between the cornerstones on which we have built our lives and our desired destination, our process of growth will be difficult.

Element - Fire

The Emperor is a fire element card since the ability to command others often requires the confidence and self-assurance that comes with fire. It suggests that we work on our belief in ourselves and our power, but also be aware of the volatility that lies just beneath the surface.

Planet – Mars

Mars rules The Emperor and is also the planet of war! It plays into the idea that life is a game that we plan to win and we have to put everything on the table to achieve the best possible results.

The Emperor - Tarot Card Description

While The Emperor Tarot card appears differently in different decks, most pull on the symbology represented in the Rider Waite deck.

The card focuses on a man sitting upon a stone throne. He has a long white beard, representing wisdom and experience, and wears a red cape, which shows his passion and power. Underneath his cape, he wears a suit of armor. This suggests that the structures around him protect him, and also that he has a thick skin that is hard to penetrate.

The throne is decorated with three ram heads, which are suggestive of a link with Mars and Aries. In his right hand, the man holds an Ankh, the Egyptian symbol of life. In his left hand, he has a globe, which represents rulership.

In the background behind the man is a great mountain that towers over the terrain. This is the strong foundation on which the power and confidence of the man is based. A small river cuts through the mountain, as a reminder that there is an emotional streak there.

Read our profile of Nephthys, the Egyptian goddess of death, darkness, and strength.

The Emperor - Upright Tarot Card Meaning

When The Emperor appears upright in a Tarot card reading, it is a reminder that you are in a position of power. You have the power to make the essential changes or decisions that are in front of you.

This could be a reminder of your personal power to control your life with your actions, choices, and self-discipline. It might also highlight to you that you have power within certain hierarchies or structures, and now is the time to use it. The card could appear to remind you that you don’t always need to be the person with the “title” to call the shots.

When this card appears upright, it usually points to healthy forms of power. So, power over yourself, or power to help others, or the ability to bring a team together and drive it forward in a positive direction. It is the type of power that listens to everyone but isn’t afraid to make the final decision or take responsibility for the outcomes.

You can expect to see The Emperor in the upright position if you are avoiding making a decision that is within your control, or you are doubting yourself and your ability to lead in a certain area.

It’s great to be a team player, but now is the time to step up to the plate. You have solid foundations and you are ready for the challenge in front of you. It is likely that you know this, but might be nervous about leaping.

What to do?

The Emperor suggests that you take control of a situation and realize that you are the one who must make the important decisions. It might be giving you a nudge to put yourself out there and take responsibility for a certain shared decision or project. Whatever it is, remember that choosing to do nothing is also a decision and one you may regret more than acting.

The Emperor - Reversed Tarot Card Meaning

When The Emperor shows up in a Tarot reading in the reversed position, it usually means that you have lost control. Either you have lost control of yourself, or you have lost control of others that you considered your to command.

Losing control can look different in different circumstances. You have hit a wall and could be suffering from decision paralysis. But you could also be holding on too tight and pushing too hard. This can lead to a domineering and inflexible approach which is counterproductive and may force other people to work around you.

When you are on the edge like this, your emotions are at risk of boiling over. The card could indicate that you are on the edge of an emotional breakdown or a serious case of burnout. This is dangerous, and you may find yourself burning bridges.

What to do?

If The Emperor shows up in the reversed position, it is usually suggesting that you stop and take stock. Why have you lost control and what behaviors are you engaging in that are undermining your position and progress? It can be a warning sign that you are in an emotional spiral that is undermining your judgment. You need to regain control of yourself to be able to control the world around you.

The Emperor Tarot Reading

The Emperor reminds us that we are in a position of power. This could be in our own lives, and in broader structures and hierarchies. It is often a positive sign, since it means that we can fix whatever the problem in front of us is. Of course, that doesn’t mean that it is going to be easy.

Power and control aren’t always what they appear. People who appear to have the most power often have the least. Small acts that let us take control of our lives often have big impacts when it comes to our self-esteem.

11 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page