Exploring The Emperor

Welcome to Tarot Thursdays! This week we will be exploring The Emperor and how it can be used as a prompt or brainstorming in our writing.

Tarot is an interesting thing. It’s based upon symbolism and metaphors through imagery. With these images the subconscious mind is tapped into through the story provided. Not everyone gets the same thing from a piece of art. Each piece will influence each person in a slightly different way.

Introduction of the Card


The Emperor is card number 04 in the deck and the fifth card in the Major Arcana of the Tarot.

Let’s take a look at the following examples of this card below.

Card Examples

L-04Notice the similarities between them and take note of their differences. Do any of these move you more than the others? Take your time and allow these cards to tell you their story.

My Analysis of These Cards

These are all images of great and powerful rulers. Each one of them are clearly the lord of their domain. Stately, regal, and authoritative in their appearance, their mere gaze is law. I think the artists for each of these cards did a fantastic job conveying the vision they had for this persona. I’m not sure why this card is so easy to communicate on an instinctive level, but it seems we all have a basic understanding of authority and what it should look like.

Themes of the Card

Each card has a set of keywords associated with it that serve as themes for its image. These keywords will vary somewhat depending on who you ask.

According to the Learning the Tarot website, the keywords associated with the card are:


You can learn more about what this site has to say about this card here.

According to the Biddy Tarot website, the keywords associated with the card are:


You can learn more about what this site has to say about this card here.

What this Card Means to Me

Love it or hate it, this is the quintessence of the father role. We have put this ideal on a pedestal even if it’s just to despise it. Even so, this essence is encapsulated within us all and is the yang to the essence of our inner Empress.

All that creative, expressive, and receptive energy we have needs to have at least some kind of structure and needs to have a productive outlet. This where our inner Emperor comes in. His vision and planning provides direction while her flexibility prevents him from becoming too rigid and overbearing.

It’s all about balance.

So if we have too much of the Empress in our lives we become compliant and complacent. We become pushovers and enablers. If we have too much of the Emperor in our lives we become the tyrant and crush those around us that get in our way. Neither extreme is good or healthy.

The Emperor is the ultimate leader with the grand vision and great plan. Like a traditional father working hard to guide and care for his family. Or a CEO running a huge company. How much balance they have in their lives is up to their maturity levels and experience – or up to you as the writer.

Again, I want to stress that this isn’t so much about gender as it is about the roles that people fill throughout their lives and the various facets within ourselves. We all have The Emperor within us. We all have the capacity to plan and organize. Each of us are capable of taking hold of our destiny and shaping it to our will through the choices we make every day. We just have to plan ahead. That’s what this card represents.

The key phrase I choose for this card is: GREAT FATHER.

Music Playlist

In this spirit of all this, these are the songs I have picked out for this card.

The Writing Exercise

This exercise is a free write. Permit yourself to write whatever comes to mind based upon the theme of this card. Choose a keyword or key phrase and run with it to see what you come up with.

I would love it if you linked or pinged back what you wrote so I could see where you went with this.

Happy writing!

Mythic Tarot by Liz Greene (Author), Juliet Sharman-Burke (Author), Tricia Newell (Illustrator) © 1989
Dragon Tarot by Terry Donaldson (Author), Peter Pracownik (Author) © 1996
Universal Tarot by Lo Scarabeo (Author), R. De Angelis (Illustrator), A. E. Waite (Designer) © 2001
Tarot of Dreams by Ciro Marchetti (Author), Lee Bursten (Author) © 2015

3 thoughts on “Exploring The Emperor

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