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4 - The Emperor


4 - The Emperor

The Emperor represents authority and law, paternity and ultimate power.

Image public domain, from Rider-Waite deck
The Emperor is majestic and has a commanding presence. We know he is a man not to be trifled with, because he has twin rams' heads -- symbols of Mars -- upon his mighty throne. In one hand he holds the ankh, the sign of eternal life, and in the other a globe. He is the fourth card in the Major Arcana, and in numerology four is a number of foundation and stability. The Emperor is domination of the material world, and he is authority and law.

When the Emperor appears in a Tarot spread, he shows not only authority and law but also paternity and power. The Emperor is a war-maker, a leader, and represents the results of taking action. In some cases, he may represent a highly controlled sexual drive.

If the Emperor appears reversed in your reading, look out. He indicates emotional immaturity and an inability to "leave the nest" and separate from parents. This reversal is also connected to a loss of control, and symbolizes things that happen when one fails to take action at all but sits passively on the sidelines.

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