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The Emperor Meaning - Major Arcana Tarot Card Meanings

By Tina Gong


Emperor Keywords

Upright Keywords Reversed Keywords
stability, structure, protection, authority, control, practicality, focus, discipline tyrant, domineering, rigid, stubborn, lack of discipline, recklessness
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The Emperor Meaning - Original Rider Waite Tarot Depiction

The Emperor Tarot Card Description

In the Emperor tarot card, a stoic ruler figure can be seen on his throne, which is adorned with the heads of four rams, representing his astrological sign - Aries. In one hand, he carries a scepter, representing his reign and his right to rule, and in the other an orb, a symbol of the kingdom that he watches over. The long beard of the emperor represents his vast experience; over time he has learned much about what it takes to rule, to establish power, authority and complete order for the benefit of his people.

Behind him, the barren mountains shows his determination, his ambition for greater heights and his leadership capability. Contrast this with his complement, the Empress, whose flowing fields are filled with nurturing kindness. The Emperor instead rules with grit, strength and force.

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Upright Emperor Meaning

It’s all about control when it comes to the Emperor, for this card means authority, regulation, organization and a fatherliness. The Emperor represents a strategic thinker who sets out plans that he must see through. He is a symbol of the masculine principle - the paternal figure in life that gives structure, creates rules and systems, and imparts knowledge. Where the Empress's desire for their kingdom is to create happiness, the emperor desires to foster honor and discipline. He guides with a firm hand, following the calling of the crown above all else. Though he is a ruler, he understands that to reign is also to serve - thus he acts rationally and according to what is for the greater good of the kingdom.

He is a symbol of the masculine principle - the paternal figure in life that gives structure, creates rules and systems, and imparts knowledge.

To see him in a reading presents a chance to grow in terms of the goals that you have set for yourself. It presents a successful future as long as you pursue your goals similar to the fashion that the Emperor does, methodically, and strategically.

When you see him in a reading, a possible interpretation is that you could be put in charge of something important. It could be a position at work or in any kind of organization or institution that desperately needs order and a clear decisive mind. You may be called to act in the place of the Emperor, using his wisdom to bring clarity to the project.

Upright Love Meaning Upright Career Meaning Upright Finances Meaning
traditional relationship, use logic in love, unexpressed emotions creating processes, structure, discipline, routine, mentor being disciplined about money

Upright Emperor Tarot Love Meaning

Although the Emperor is a very serious man, without any real sense of romance, its appearance in a love tarot reading can still be beneficial. The Emperor tarot love meaning asks us to bring common sense, structure, discipline and logic to relationships and romance. Relationships around this tarot card may be rather traditional, and perhaps stifling if not handled too carefully.

As a person, the Emperor represents someone older and well-established, that may also have a hard time expressing their feelings. Sometimes, this card however, can also symbolize a person driven by ego, who is domineering and bullying, and unable to empathize with others.

Career Meaning - Upright Emperor

Your career may be flourishing due to your hard work, concentration and organized approach. The Emperor calls on you to be disciplined, efficient and persistent when it comes to getting what you want out of your job, or job search. If your office, or your work process is a bit chaotic or frustrating right now, it may be helpful for you to step up and introduce new methodologies or structures that can help you and your teammates collaborate more efficiently. This card can also point to having a more senior colleague or boss that can provide you with support and advice in your career. 

Finances Meaning - Upright Emperor

When it comes to your finances, the Emperor signals the need to be controlled, disciplined and responsible with your money. Make sure that you have a clear understanding of where your money is going; put together a budget, make sure you stick to it, and check in every month or so. So long as you can keep it up, you’ll likely be in a good financial position.

Reversed Emperor Meaning

The Emperor reversed is a sign of abused authoritative power. In your social life, it can manifest in the overreach of power from a father figure or a possessive partner. In career readings, it could be coming from a superior. It presents a man who wants to take control of your actions and makes you feel powerless.  It could also be that you are playing the part of a weak ruler, hatching a plan to avoid the tasks that come with having responsibility. Perhaps you aspire for a career that is more flexible than one that is governed by strict rules.

Lack of self-control and inability to handle situations can be represented by the Emperor on a personal level. When he is reversed, the structures, rules and systems that he creates are no longer working. His desire to inspire higher principles in his kingdom have turned to ruthlessness, tyranny and rigidity. He seeks to dominate, forgetting his call from the crown to do what is best for his people, fearing only for his loss of control and thus creating suffering.

Reversed Love Meaning Reversed Career Meaning Reversed Finances Meaning
power struggle, competitiveness, overbearing partner low concentration or focus, bureaucracy, bad boss not disciplined about money, out of control finances

Reversed Emperor Tarot Love Meaning

The reversed Emperor tarot love meaning can signal some kind of power struggle or a fight for dominance when it comes to love and relationships. Instead of coming together with your different ideas, there may be competitiveness and a desire to just be right.

This card can also signal an overbearing partner, whether it's you or your other half. Be careful that you don't give up too much of your personal power, or repress who you are in order to be in this relationship. Alternatively, this card can also signal difficulty emotionally connecting in your relationship or potential relationships.

Career Meaning - Reversed Emperor

Without focus or discipline, your work may start to falter. If you’ve been lacking these qualities in the workplace, you may notice that it is taking a toll on your projects. Sometimes, this card can also suggest rigidity and bureaucracy in your work environment. This may stifle your sense of creativity and motivation, since the processes needed to do anything have been tedious and frustrating. At worst, the reversed Emperor can point towards a senior employee or boss that rules the workplace like a tyrant. Should this be your situation, it may be better to start looking for employment elsewhere. 

Finances Meaning - Reversed Emperor

You may feel like your finances are out of your control right now. The reversed Emperor can suggest one’s inability to properly deal with one’s financial situation. Sometimes, it can also suggest lack of discipline when it comes to spending. If the former is your case, you may want to find a professional that can help you. If the latter applies instead, you’ll really need to take a closer look at what you’re earning versus what you’re spending, and learn to cut things out.

Emperor Meaning Tarot Cheat Sheet

The Emperor Meaning - Tarot Card Meanings Cheat Sheet

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