Organization, Discipline, Law, Order, Control, Logic, Status, Security, Stability
The Emperor is seen sitting on his throne, his head tilted towards the sun. He observes the higher wisdom which comes from above, and keeps an eye on, and maintains, the kingdom he rules. He is a natural leader, focused predominantly on law, order, and discipline, and maintains a logical approach to how civilizations should be structured.
When you draw The Emperor in a reading, it is a call to bring your attention to the control or power you have in your life, over yourself and others. Being a man of structure, The Emperor marks the structure by which you live your life, and with his fatherly qualities, invites you to bring your attention to the relationships that you have with other men, including your father. Finally, The Emperor speaks to leadership and organization from the perspective of using logic and rationality to make good decisions for the betterment of everyone.
The Emperor embodies the spirit of structure, establishment, and stability. In this, he is the protective father, the leader who must provide social structure to the next generation to come. Since he exists as a father figure who watches over his family and protects those who are in need, he sits with a shield for divine protection, which describes that when acting from a pure place of divine masculine energy, spiritual protection is always present.
He has his head turned towards the large sun, symbolizing that he must always look in two directions, first towards the heavens for inspiration and wisdom from higher sources, and to also support and lead wherever the community is going. His head is tilted to the right, looking towards the empress, who will carry his spark of light, and nurture it into a new consciousness.
Bringing awareness to our own power and self-control, The Emperor is a call for us to observe the varying degrees of structure in which we live and operate by. There are personal rules that we have identified with and practice in our own lives, then there are social structures and the laws of society that we have put in place, and finally, we have a much higher "laws of nature" which govern everything in the cosmos.
These laws of nature are built into our very DNA, and we must strive for continuous improvement of our personal and social structures to become more in line with the cosmic, natural flow.
And as far as structures go, it can be very important to set up certain structures and guidelines for yourself, so that you can easily move from where you are, to where you want to be. If you are creating a project or bringing an idea to physical manifestation, then creating a plan around it helps support your goal.
Therefore, The Emperor describes that you must practice and step into your leadership. With determination and willpower, there is nothing you cannot do. It just takes the fortitude to direct and command yourself into action and become the authentic driver of your life. This will create a foundation from which you can move forward, and from there - anything is possible.
P.S. Many may notice that The Emperor and The Empress positions have been switched from traditional Tarot decks. This was done incredibly purposefully. For those interested in learning why, we have written about the decision on the Major Arcana page, and have written in even greater detail in "The Book of Patch", available in our store now.
The Emperor reversed suggests that when too much control is exerted, to the point of excess, and dominion becomes domination, you are unable to move or change as required. Life becomes a prison of inescapable logic, forever turning in on itself but ultimately without any sort of purpose other than the exercise of the ego. The Emperor reversed is a tyrannical leader who loses all contact with emotion; his sense of wonder and fantasy is all but lost. When The Emperor is reversed, it may indicate challenges that you have with your father (or as a father to your children), and something that needs to be addressed in your personal life.
To turn this reversed card upright, you are invited to see where you may be too strict in certain areas of your life, with yourself or with those around you. If you adhere to guidelines that are too constricting, you can lose the passion that made you want to participate in a given activity in the first place or frustrate and demotivate others. By softening, you can get back to your true roots, and embody a spirit that is both structured and adaptable.