The Emperor is the masculine counterpart to the the Empress and as where she is representative of fertility and manifested potential, he is representative of the authority one has over their domain. Again, the Empress and Emperor are the external pair to the internal Magician and High Priestess. By external I mean the realized and “seen with plain eyes” culmination of energy and internal I mean the dormant but ever present energy needed to create or become.
As the Emperor sits upon his throne, in robes of purple and red he clearly exudes strength. Purple is sometimes thought of as a color of royalty and red as a color of power. A staff in his right hand is a phallic symbol of masculinity and the orb shaped figure in the left is yonic or a symbol of femininity. The Emperor clearly aims to rule all which falls under his kingdom.
Moreover, the barren wasteland behind the Emperor suggests a lack of “life force” and that what he rules may easily become materialistic in nature. I strongly believe, and I think you will agree, that while this card may depict an image of a powerful individual, when it appears in reverse it is a strong cry out to go back and look to the Empress card for inspiration and growth in the natural sense. Similarly to the reversed Empress suggesting a revisit to the High Priestess, the querent is strongly urged to gather strength from the previous card in order to continue on their journey.
For example, while the upright Emperor reveals a strong, masculine or fatherly figure which rules and protects his/her kingdom, the reversed Emperor may reveal an authoritative, power hungry or overly materialistic figure. When this is the case, the querent or person in mind should be encouraged to take stock of the things they are able to acquire through their own natural abilities. Eating a healthy meal or taking a walk through nature will nourish and help them appreciate the things they already do have. I use those two examples because they are very simple to accomplish and suggest an abundance in ones life in terms of the natural creation around them, (which is clearly depicted in the Empress card).
I provided a list below to illustrate how the Fool has encountered each of the four cards I have looked at so far.
The Magician-1- as masculine, power over one’s own creative potential or as the querent wants to master his/her environment.
The High Priestess-2- as feminine, intuitive, or as the querent thinks or believes things will occur in his/her environment.
The Empress-3-as feminine, mother figure or able to create through natural means.
The Emperor-4-as masculine, father figure or able to control one’s world and acquire.
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Have a wonderful day!