Card Profile: Emperor (4)

Emperor is the fifth card of Major Arcana, and it constitutes the fourth step on Fool’s Journey. If the Empress card is to be regarded as the Mother archetype in the Major Arcana, the Emperor represents its complementary; the Father archetype.



The Emperor is depicted as an aged but virile man sitting on a stone throne. He is one of the few bearded figures in Major Arcana, and has a long white beard, completing his long white hair. His red robe hides a well-built frame and the armor protecting it. His regalia consists of a Crown on his head, a scepter recalling the ankh on his right hand, and a simple orb on his other hand. The stone throne is also relatively undecorated, only details it shows is the four rams’ heads at its corners. Behind the throne is lofty yet bare mountains, their loftiness is exhibited by the hardly noticed river streaming at their skirts. The dominant color in this card is orange; reminding of the sunset.

The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.

-Henry A. Kissinger

The lofty mountains are enunciative of the challenges that the Emperor has overcome on his way up. He did not take his power and authority for granted, but has worked his guts out for it; moreover, his armor suggests that he might also have had to fight tooth and nail to protect and improve what he had.

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.

-Winston Churchill

Although he might have shed blood; his red robe and the Ankh scepter represents his passion and deference to life. The orb represents his authority over the world, along with his onus to use this authority to chaperon it. The Crown, connecting the Emperor with the heavens above, corresponds to this exaltedness. Completing the other regalia, it represents the absoluteness of his power and benevolence of his authority. The white beard of the Emperor symbolizes his wisdom, acquired through the first-hand experience of the consequences of his actions. The Emperor, being reminiscent of the Magician; is not a passive ruler: He uses his wisdom and expertise on a day-to-day basis to sweep new challenges, as the rams’ heads suggest; as such he is an action-oriented figure. Lastly; the background color, orange, underscores the general emotion of courage and pride in this card.


The Emperor is a card that calls for order and discipline. Like his consort, the Empress, the Emperor is wise; however his influence is not subtle, he undertakes the role of a patron. Following this, he represents authority, dominance, and commandment which he uses to bring security and comfort. The Emperor points out that the resolution to a problematic situation might be through application of a set of principles with discipline and courage.

In a reading, the Emperor can represent the established structure or an official that governs the area one wishes to enter, yet he would attach importance to meritocracy and righteousness as this is how he assumed his position. A person represented by the Emperor would be a principled yet ambitious man, and he would not be afraid to fight for what he believes to be true. The main feature of his character would be his mental discipline over his emotions, his practicality and of course; his bossiness, although he would be bossing out of his paternalistic instincts. In a relationship context, the Emperor might indicate a committed relationship albeit shortcoming in romantic gestures; the Emperor in a relationship would be leaning to a traditionally masculine role; protective, comforting, practical; yet from time to time over-bearing and woody. Career-wise; the Emperor indicates a robust and dependable income, an already established workplace and the need to prioritize organizational and planning matters, and opposes financial risk-taking.

Summing up, the Emperor is a card calling for logic and structure over passion and emotions. Albeit not always; the wisdom and experience, and the established rules as well might provide the solutions that the emotions and inspiration fails to provide.

There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.

-Colin Powell

Click here for the Directory of Tarot Card Profiles

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