Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot – The Emperor

The Emperor, L’Empereur

Ruled by Aries, which is ruled by the planet Mars, exalted in the Sun.

Keywords: authority, reason, logic, masculinity, foundation, stability, leadership

The emperor represents the authority of the Father figure, the masculine ruler, the rational principle. Where the Empress is connected to the Earth, the Emperor is connected to the civilized world of humankind. If the Empress is the Great Goddess, the Emperor is the Horned God, the masculine principle of divinity.

The Emperor is the archetype of the Older Male, who has a lifetime to experience through which to execute his authority. He is the prototypical CEO in a male-dominated society, the President, the Patriarch. Because of his age, the Emperor wise, like the All-father Odin. 

Ruled by the planet mars, he also represents the aggressive principle and can be dictatorial and authoritarian in his style of leadership. The Emperor represents the archetype of the Patriarchy.

In his right hand he holds the Crux Ansata, or Ankh, which is the Egyptian symbol of life, for he is exalted in the fiery principle of the Sun, the active life giver. 

The Thoth Tarot

The Thoth Tarot – The Emperor

On the traditional Tree of Life the Emperor lives on the path between Chokmah on the upper-right, the Wisdom of the Father, and Tiphareth in the Pillar of Harmony, the Sphere of Equilibrium, ruled by the Sun. We see this reflected in how Lady Frieda Harris drew the the Light of the Heavenly Father above and to the right of the Emperor, shining upon him, powering his Solar energy.

We also see the Ram of Aries behind the Emperor counter-poised with the weak lamb. Crowley says this represents a symbol of the nature of government by Patriarchy, the rule of the Emperor over his subjects.

We see he holds a Cross in his hand, a symbol of Tiphareth, sometimes called the Christ Center, and his legs are crossed as well, reminding us about the symbol of the sacrificed God in the Hanged Man – standing in for Odin or Jesus or any other God hanged in order to save himself.

In the shield we see the Solar equivalent of the White Eagles in the Lunar shield in the Empress, his complement.