The Emperor Tarot Card Meaning, Explained

Photo: volkovslava / Shutterstock
emperor tarot card

In the Major Arcana cards that make up a tarot deck, there are 78 cards total. And while each card has its own meaning when pulled during a tarot reading, some are incredibly powerful in their own way.

The Emperor s the fourth card in a traditional tarot deck and is part of the Fool's Journey. But what does the Emperor tarot card mean?

The Emperor Tarot Card Meanings

Upright meaning keywords: Security, stability, control, focus, discipline, structure, father figure

Reversed meaning keywords: Stubborn, reckless, domination, lack of control or discipline, inflexible

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Whether this card is read as upright or reversed, pulling the Emperor card represents stability, power, strength, fatherhood, success, and leadership.

The Emperor card is one of grounded protection, a father figure of sorts who encourages you to choose logic rather than emotion, and to do everything in your power to make your dreams come true by committing to remaining focused and organized.

The Emperor is considered the counterpart to the Empress, which represents motherhood and divine femininity. Where the Empress tarot card is the Mother archetype, the Emperor is the Father.

But unlike the Empress, who also signifies domesticity and indulging in our nurturing side, the Emperor is more focused on looking deep inside yourself to find traits that make you a leader, and to use them to overcome any issues you face.

Because the Emperor is all about stability and security, it's essential to possess confidence in order to be a force of authority. But to do so will take very hard work, taking control of your emotions, and remaining consistent.

Only then can you reach high status often associated with royalty, and find success in all areas of life.

The Emperor Card Description

Looking at the Emperor card, the first thing you may notice is him lounging on a stone throne, wearing red robes and golden crowns, with four ram's heads, signifying not only the zodiac sign Aries, but its ruling planet Mars.

The Emperor is a symbol of power and authority, represented by the staff he holds. The staff has two meanings and is symbolic of his reign as well as the kingdom he reigns over.

Photo: volkovslava / Shutterstock

Along with his staff, the Emperor has a long beard that speaks to his wisdom. But the ankh, the Egyptian symbol in his right hand, or the key of life, as well as the orb in his left hand, represent the land he rules.

Behind the Emperor is a landscape of a mountain range and a flowing river, which symbolize his solid foundation that may make him resistant to change, but also includes some form of hope that appeals to his emotional side.

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The Emperor Upright Meaning

If you pull an upright Emperor card in a reading, you have your life together. You are the calm of the storm of life, and have a crystal clear vision of who you are and what you want.

Simply put, an upright Emperor tarot card means you are in control.

As a father figure, this card represents providing for family and protecting loved ones. The Emperor demands respect and authority, and will create a system bound by rules and regulations.

Think about whether or not your authority is working for you. Are you abusing this power? Or, perhaps you are a born leader and are shying away from the role.

Either way, when the Emperor card is upright in a tarot spread or reading, it should serve as a reminder to treat your peers as equals.

The Emperor Reversed Meaning

The reversed Emperor tarot card means you are feeling powerless and out of control.

If you receive the Emperor in a reversed position during a reading, it may mean you are on a bit of a power-trip.

This card is calling attention to your relationship with responsibility and discipline. Usually, these issues of power associated with a reversed position stem from deep insecurity.

This insecurity is often caused by childhood issues with a father figure. These issues may make it hard for you to either let go of your authority or take a stand when you're called to action. If this is the case, try to view yourself as an individual.

Be powerful. Be humble. Be kind. It’s never easy making a change in your daily routine and attitude, but try and see how it alters your relationship with the world around you. Work your way up to creating a better dynamic between you and those around you.

Tell others that you care and are listening. Remind them that you have opinions and desires. You are a leader, so use the voice you’ve been blessed with to help, not hurt.

The Emperor Meaning in Love & Relationships

The Emperor is a leader with a pearl of the age-old wisdom that can only be gained through tons of life experience. And in a love reading, this card pertains to commitment and stability.

Love and Relationships: Upright Emperor Meaning

As a single individual, drawing the upright Emperor may indicate that you are interested in an older man who can change your life in a positive way; it can also mean you need to openly express your emotions.

If you are single, this card is an indication that it is time to reveal your feelings to someone you are attracted to; don't expect them to read your mind.

Having the Emperor show up if you are in a relationship means to take a look at your partnership. Is there an equal distribution of power? Is there a constructive dialogue between the two of you when you argue? Is your significant other your partner in crime, or a parental figure?

While this card may mean a long-lasting relationship is possible, there may be problems that need improvement.

Love and Relationships: Reversed Emperor Meaning

If the Emperor appears reversed and you are single, it can mean you have unresolved father issues that are negatively affecting your relationships. The only course of action here is to resolve your issues so you can seek out partnerships that you actually benefit from.

Reversed, this card also represents your own lack of commitment, seemingly jumping from one partner to another.

If in a relationship, the Emperor card signals that your relationship is not making one or both of you happy. If this is the case, don’t blame your partner for their seemingly controlling or submissive tendencies; instead, look inward and learn to compromise.

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The Emperor Meaning in Career

In a career reading, the Emperor is a good card to pick, as it can indicate that you are on your way to success in your workplace, or that you will find the tools necessary to take you to a higher status. Above all, the message, whether reversed or upright, is that hard work is essential in this process.

Career: Upright Emperor Meaning

Pulling an upright Emperor card in a career spread or reading means that all the hard work and dedication you've put into your job is about to seriously pay off. Success, both financial and business-related, will come as a result of putting your skills to the test.

If you are currently unemployed, the upright Emperor indicates that you will only find opportunities if you proceed with logic and remain consistent in your efforts. And once you do find that career, it will be because of your concentration and organizational skills.

Career: Reversed Emperor Meaning

A reversed Emperor card during a career reading points to all the problematic areas of your job or workplace that are preventing you from finding success. This card may indicate that a change in career is needed, one that will allow you more freedom and agency.

The Emperor can also point to a lack of progress in your work or projects as a result of not being able to fully express your skills and abilities. It may also point to a boss or higher-ranking coworker causing issues in the workplace, and that you may want to consider another career field.

The Emperor Meaning in Finance

In a finance or money reading, the Emperor can signify financial stability and authority, or it can represent a lack of control or money issues. Overall, this card comes with the message that success must be earned, and the only way to do that is with discipline.

Finance: Upright Emperor Meaning

An upright Emperor in a finance reading indicates that being in control of your finances and money issues is a necessity. While the card stresses the importance of setting up a budget and limiting spending, it also advises against becoming too controlling over your finances.

You'll end up in a positive financial situation if you take steps to control your spending and ensure you save money along the way. But it's also important to note that letting yourself splurge every now and then won't hurt you.

Finance: Reversed Emperor Meaning

Reversed, the Emperor in a money reading means you have no control over your finances and may require the help of someone well-versed in this area. Perhaps you don't have the knowledge, or have prior issues with handling money properly.

Either way, this card is telling you that unless you take full control and responsibility of your money and money issues, the outcome will not be ideal. So, rather than continuing to spend away, be much more disciplined and find a system that works for you.

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Samantha Maffucci is an editor for YourTango who has written hundreds of articles about relationships, trending news and entertainment, numerology and astrology. Follow her on Twitter for more.