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The Emperor Tarot Card Meaning

The Emperor Keywords

UPRIGHT: control | security | order | authority | structure

REVERSED: passivity | lack of discipline | excessive control | inflexibility

The Emperor Description

In the Tarot, The Emperor acts as the Father archetype, sitting on a stone throne decorated with rams' heads, symbolizing his association with Aries and Mars. He holds an ankh, representing life, and an orb, signifying his dominion over the world. The Emperor is clad in a red robe, signifying his powerful, passionate nature, and a suit of armor, indicating his shielded nature from threats and emotional vulnerability. His white beard and gold crown reflect his wisdom and authoritative status.

The Emperor's backdrop features a tall, sturdy mountain range, illustrating his solid, unyielding foundation and resistance to change unless he deems it necessary. However, the presence of a river beneath these mountains suggests that beneath his stern exterior lies a capacity for emotion, which requires trust and effort to uncover, hinting at his complex character.


NOTE: The tarot card meaning description is based on the Rider-Waite deck and Decoding The Cards

Wishing For A Deeper Tarot Connection?

Decoding The Cards goes further than keywords and traditional interprations by providing exercises for each card in the tarot.

The exercises this book are designed to challenge you to delve deeper into the meanings of each card, as well as consider your own personal experiences in relation to the traditional meanings.

The Emperor Upright

The Emperor is the archetypal father figure in the tarot, standing for a protector and provider that offers stability, safety, and security. He commands great authority and leadership, knowing how to make wise decisions due to his vast life experience.


The Emperor is steadfast and fair, possessing a clear vision of what he wants to create and how he will use others to help bring it to life. His appearance in a reading may suggest that you are being called on to take this role and stand firm as an authority figure yourself. 


Ultimately, the Emperor is a reminder of the importance of following rules and conventions to succeed.

The Emperor Reversed

The Emperor reversed suggests a misuse of power and authority, which can manifest in many ways — including someone using their authority to micromanage those around them. If you’re in a position of power, evaluating whether you are overstepping your bounds is essential. 


The reversed Emperor is characterized by an insatiable hunger for power. Domineering and cruel, he signals an imbalance of power in relationships and a need to re-examine and adjust that dynamic. 


Finally, the reversed Emperor can also indicate a lack of discipline or inflexibility when pursuing one’s goals. Pay attention to your level of dedication and commitment when trying to accomplish something. 

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