The Emperor

The Emperor Angelic Tarot Card Meanings

The Emperor

Deep inside you, hardwired in your brain, you have the voice of a stern father looping. He tells you what you must do in order to receive love and approval. Without the approval of this inner voice (called the ‘superego’ by Freud) we sometimes fail to feel loved, wanted or appreciated.

The Emperor The Frideborg Tarot
The Emperor from the Frideborg Tarot

The Emperor knows how to do lots of things but unconditional love is not his forte. He lets his wife, The Empress, worry about that sort of thing. Yet we need his guidance through the maturation process or our lives would be utter chaos.

The trick is to learn to recognise the voice of disapproval and shush it up when we are old enough to maintain self-discipline without the need for other people’s approval.

Structure and Strong Foundations

Corresponding to Aries, Cardinal Fire, the Emperor can indeed be a fire starter and a rebel. But this is not his most well-known persona. His respectable ordinary day-to-day appearance is that of an authority figure. Perhaps someone who is able to help us in a practical or financial way. He could represent a banker, military leader or politician;  a grandfather, an overbearing partner or that pesky friend who always knows best… but he is always someone with authority.

I know a few tarot readers who struggle with the authority of both The Emperor and the next arcanum, the tradition-bound Hierophant because they sometimes place obstacles in the way of the free intuitive flow of the High Priestess or the creativity of the Empress. We need both chaos and structure, of course.

Growing up, the conflict was centred on the polarity between the voices of the Empress and the Emperor for me. With a lack of structure and without a clear system for reward/retribution, gaining approval was tricky. Also, because my mother left when I was three, there was no way of balancing the lack of approval with unconditional love and nurturing. I spent a lot of time outside the body, daydreaming. But I had ‘safe places’ in life too. School (The Hierophant) was one and my grandmother’s (The Hermit/Crone) was another.

Authority Figures

Back to the Emperor: We encounter him first in our father and father figures in our immediate environment. As we grow older, we encounter this archetype over and over again in authority figures – no matter how little power they sometimes hold. You know that bus driver who won’t let you on the bus because you didn’t bring the exact change even though he could? He’s expressing a shadow aspect of the Emperor to compensate for the lack of feeling empowered. Next time this happens to you, you can just remind yourself of the Emperor and smile compassionately.

‘Computer says no’ from Little Britain is another example of this energy’s shadow.

But the gifts of the Emperor are many. Let’s not forget that spiritually he gives us power, emotionally he grants us stability and self-assertion, mentally we are better able to analyse situations under his influence and physically he gives us vitality and strong immunity.


Archangelic correspondence: Sariel

Element: Fire

Zodiac Sign: Aries (Ruled by Mars)

Chakra: Solar plexus, root chakra

Colour: Red, orange, yellow, black

Crystal: Fire Agate, Hematite, Red Jasper, Garnet, Bloodstone

Body: Blood, bile, muscles, sinews, pineal gland, head, male genitals

Exercise: Bodybuilding, combat training, martial arts, boot camp

Stance: Seated (enthroned), with one hand extending a staff of power

Magickal Tool/Ingredient: Staff

Associated Major Arcana Cards (through numerology): Death, The Fool

Associated Minor Arcana Cards: All cards associated with Aries (these are the minors to use in the Healing Key Spread).

  • 2 of Wands (Mars in Aries). Healing through conflict resolution.
  • 3 of Wands (Sun in Aries). Healing through taking charge and assuming responsibility.
  • 4 of Wands (Venus in Aries). Healing by laying firm foundations and bringing projects to completion.
  • Queen of Wands. Healing through self-awareness and guiding others.

The Emperor Through The Elements

The Emperor is all Fire. He is extremely powerful in the Element of Fire and his logical acumen comes to the fore in the Element of Air.

A Water-logged Emperor can be very grumpy and prone to misuse his power. He may also be impotent or suffer from headaches. Temperance is the antidote.

An Earth-bound Emperor may be rigid and stuck in his ways. He may be overly materialistic. On the plus side, he is very grounded in reality.

Remedies to increase the Emperor energy in your life:

  • You can make a Tarot essence to increase The Emperor energy, using the Emperor card of your choice, along with any of the crystals above.
  • Place the Emperor card or a piece of fire agate to increase your personal power.
  • Use the essence of the Emperor card to increase virility.
  • Carry a piece of hematite with you to stay grounded.
  • Create a tarot essence of one of the associated Minor Arcana cards (see above for uses).
  • Start pumping iron.
  • Make a staff.
  • Pay your bills on time.
  • Be benevolent if you are in a position of power.
  • Forgive your father.

Affirmation: “I am powerful and organised.”

Angelic Invocation to Sariel

Dear Archangel Sariel, bless me with a healthy sense of authority and sovereignty. Help me see that I am not in competition with other souls and that compassion is the greatest power I possess. Amen and so it is!


  • Martial arts is an excellent way of balancing the Emperor energy – especially the softer forms like Tai Chi and Qi Gong.
  • Wear white to dispel excess Emperor energy. (White is a colour to avoid if you are low on Fire.)
  • Learn to say ‘Let me think about that’ if you are prone to fly off the handle and be quick with a ‘no.’
  • Avoid alcohol.


Because of his connection with the Father Archetype, the Emperor often represents an older man in a relationship with a younger woman. In a reading for a woman who is single, The Emperor could indicate that she is looking for a man who will ‘keep’ her, especially together with the 9 of Pentacles.

However, The Emperor could also represent a suitor who is willing to fight for her and who is mature enough to lay down the foundation for a lasting and mutually fulfilling relationship. Surrounding cards will tell you which. The Lovers and the 2 of Cups is an indication that this will be a good match.

Power Dynamics

In the relationship, the presence of The Emperor could indicate a need for or the presence of stability. It could also indicate a carefully balanced power dynamic or the need for one of the partners to be more assertive.

Finances, health issues or organisational matters could be weighing heavily on one or both of you – especially together with the 5 of Pentacles. The reversal of The Emperor could indicate male fertility problems or impotence.

The ill-dignified or reversed Emperor card could also be a red alert for anger management issues, especially near the 5 of Swords. Next to The Devil, downright abuse (physical, psychological or sexual) could be the problem.

Due to his Martian connection, The Emperor often shows up in readings for women who are attached to military men.

Stamina over Finesse

Let it not be said about The Emperor that he lacks stamina and sometimes uses this stamina to make up for what he lacks in finesse or sensitivity. That’s not to say that he is always completely lacking in the latter two though. With age and experience, The Emperor could be the consummate male lover by virtue of totally having embraced his masculinity.

He likes his woman to be overtly feminine and in a reading together with the 6 of Cups and The Empress, the presence of The Emperor could signify a case of soul mates who keep being attracted to each other through many incarnations in order to help each other balance male/female energy.

The Marseille Tarot image in this post is from the CBD Tarot by Yoav Ben-Dov.

Take me back to the Tarot Card Meanings page


Comments 3

  1. I did a love spread using the triangle and pulled The devil, Queen of coins and the 4 of wands. I decided to pull another card using instinct and placed the cards in a diamond position with the Emperor on the bottom. I think the devil has to do with wild attraction and passion towards one another, the Queen of Coins is myself-a Capricorn-nurturing, the 4 of wands may indicate a celebration, hopefully a wedding and the Emperor represents him, worldly (he’s in the Navy), protector and a fire sign.

    I’m just sorry that I didn’t get any cups.

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