Card 4: The Emperor


In Numerology: 4
Star Sign or Planet: Aries
Yes or No answer: This card says Yes
Key dates: March 21 – April 19

The Emperor in an Upright Position


The Emperor shows us fatherhood in all its facets. The querent may be entering fatherhood or have a positive connection with his own father. He may be surrounded by positive male energy or is being called upon to develop positive male energy within themselves. This card symbolizes the positive sides of male energy. Logic and decision-making are shown, and the querent may be asked to make decisions on the behalf of himself, his family, or those who cannot speak for themselves. He is defender of the weak, and in this position, shows his fairness and unbiased nature. The Emperor shows the adequate harnessing of leadership and can mean learning about how to be a good leader or leading others. This card is also a huge indicator of the powers of reasoning, masculinity, and developing maturity.

Symbolic of discipline, the Emperor shows the querent has discipline or has someone in their life that beautifully demonstrates good self-discipline and has his affairs under control. He is a ruler and is considered to be a fair ruler who hears both sides of arguments before making judgements, the querent may find himself in a situation where fairness is imperative or there is a need to hear all sides before deciding which is direction is best. There is compromise shown in this card, and the Emperor also shows the proper way to handle power: with caution and moderation. The Emperor is a mediator and the querent may find himself playing the middle between two opposing sides. His ability to create is present, but to a lesser extent than that of his queen. This card also shows authority and perhaps being a leading authority on something or consulting a leading authority on something. Here, the emperor is practical and politically inclined as the querent or one in his immediate vicinity.

The Emperor in a Reversed Position


The reversed Emperor shows abuse of power, the need for self-discipline and the lack thereof. It shows dictatorship, tyranny, and power struggles. With the Emperor upside down like this, the world may fall from his grasp, meaning he is losing his hold on his subjects. A father may find he is losing his children’s’ respect or the respect of those around them through their pig-headedness. There is a stubborn streak that is apparent, an inability to admit when one is wrong. A man who abuses his children, substances, or both. The Emperor can show ruling through fear when it is reversed in its position, but can also symbolize illogical thinking, or that there is no reasoning with this ruler. The querent may find his authority is being challenged or threatened in some way. Secret attempts at dethroning the king may be in the works. The self-reliance of the Emperor is undone by its position, showing dependence on other people, things, and chemicals. Possessiveness, and worshipping possessions is possible.

There may be conflict brewing with a patriarchal relative or with one’s father. The querent who is a father may find that parenthood is becoming more difficult and there is little cooperation from the children. The Emperor shows negative male influences and negative aspects of masculinity when it falls in this position. There may be anarchy, or a lack of leadership. The king may have lost his self-esteem, be unsure of himself, and second-guess himself. The querent may be going through a lack of confidence that keeps him from making decisions, he is unsure of his direction, and cannot discern between right and wrong so easily. The querent may also see himself here wandering aimlessly through life without a goal or he may be seen as a rogue that cannot conform to the rules and laws of a place. The reversed Emperor can also show abandoning of responsibilities, abandonment of children, or a querent who grew up with an abusive father or no father at all. The querent may also be harbouring resentment against their father or have been done wrong by him in some way. He may be strict to the point of being stifling and cannot stand to see anyone having a better time or life without him.

Symbolism and History of the Emperor

The Emperor is a great ruler, the King of the Earth. He is often likened to the level-headed ruler who uses logic as opposed to emotion in order to rule his kingdom. His throne may have rams on its arms. He holds the Earth in the palm of his hand and he is seated with a serious look on his face, showing his sternness and immovable energy. The scenery around him is very plain and cold looking. He has the robes of opulence about him and shows himself to be a fair ruler. The Emperor is very often symbolic of the father, or the one who disciplines the children and teaches right from wrong. Whether the Emperor is being read for or as the querent, there is a general feeling that the querent is in need of a father figure or is becoming a father soon, himself.

This is Card 4 in the tarot deck and shows the Fool’s image of his father. He comes after the Empress who has a bit more power than he and the capacity to use emotion where the Emperor has no capacity for these things and rarely uses anything but intellect and reasoning to solve all of the world’s problems. He can be short-sighted and headstrong. He is sitting sternly atop his seat due to his rigid and sometimes strict nature, which is common to a lot of fathers who function as the final word on all decisions that require sober thought. His throne shows leadership while the rams on each arm signify strength, battles, and power: things that all kings must understand and address as rulers of their people. He can be conservative and has very definite opinions about things.

Key Terms


Leadership, Fairness, Logic, Decisions, Reason, Self-discipline, Tyranny, Abuse of Power, Masculine energy, Substance abuse, Fatherhood, Fathers, Power Struggles, Dictatorship.

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