Introduction To The Major Arcana, Part 11: The Empress

If you tuned into my last post, you may have read what I had to say about the Emperor, another one of the Major Arcana. The Emperor and Empress are, as you may have guessed, very closely related. Where the Emperor is the cosmic masculine and paternal energy, the Empress is the cosmic feminine and maternal energy. Where the Emperor represents order and an outward orientation, leaning more toward wands and swords, the Empress represents inner strength, willpower, the font of life, leaning more towards pentacles and cups. There are a few things to keep in mind about the Empress.

The image of the Empress is Dionysian and Stravinskian. It depicts a woman with golden hair, sitting on a throne and wearing a laurel wreath topped with many stars. The throne is stacked with luxurious cushions, pillows, and blankets. There is a heart-shaped pillow bearing a cross on the throne. There is a green, lush forest in the background under a golden sun, and a lovely river flows through the forest. At her feet is some sort of yellow plant, probably grain or wheat, symbolizing verdence and fecundity. The Empress is a goddess of life.

The Upright Empress represents maternal roles. She is a wellspring of power and inner strength that is derived from what psychologists call an internal locus of control. Sensuality, generosity, being a good liver and handler of money, and eating food and having other sensual pleasures that one enjoys are connotations of the upright Empress. The effortless harmony of nature is associated herewith. The Upright Empress means abundance in one’s career. It can also mean a romantic relationship that is very fulfilling and happy. Finally, the Upright Empress is easygoing, not authoritative like the Emperor, and has a go with the flow sort of attitude.

The Reversed Empress is either the lack of the Empress, or the overabundance of her. The reversed Empress can mean that one is dry, lacking the harmony and natural bounty of the Empress, and failing to meet one’s own needs. Spiritual aridity, a dark night of the soul, and simple boredom are happening here. Another possibility is that the Empress is too much of a good thing, that one is being too generous, or too laid back, or too lackadaisical in one’s approach to life. This can be remedied by bringing in qualities of the Emperor.

In a past-present-future spread, the Empress has the following qualities:

  1. As past, the Empress is the womb that gave birth to the present situation. The Empress is the source of life, that which animates your present situation. The reversed Empress in this position is the absence of life, the dryness that makes your present situation so bad.
  2. As present, the Empress is the sudden explosion of new possibilities and assertiveness, and also the sudden growth of inner strength. The reversed Empress in this position is the absence of all that, a weakness that means you are not loving yourself enough.
  3. As future, the Empress is the forthcoming moment where everything clicks. Everything falls together here, and you will see a resurgence when it does. If the Empress is reversed in this position, watch out! You might be in for a wild ride.

Next time, we’ll tackle one of the cards that is almost the opposite of the Empress: The Hermit!

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