Have you ever experienced the world around you providing commentary on a particular tarot card you may be studying? You may have noticed that this seems to be becoming a regular theme in these weekly card studies.1
This shouldn’t surprise us too much. Tarot reading is based on the idea that the cards reveal details of reality that may not be otherwise apparent. If information flows from tarot to us about reality, is it so hard to imagine that information could flow from reality to us about tarot?
New York City has its share of the seriously disturbed mentally ill. In a kinder, gentler world more adequate care would be available. In this world though, those of us who live in US cities must decide our reactions – be they compassion, engagement, denial or disgust.
If information flows from tarot to us about reality, is it so hard to imagine that information could flow from reality to us about tarot?
Sitting down at my local cafe to prepare this study, the sound of a loud voice repeatedly disrupted my concentration. Finally acknowledging my irritation, I turned to look in the direction of a flagrantly ill woman having a detailed (and personal) conversation with a host of invisibles. This person is a regular at this particular Starbucks. Why was she bothering me so much today? Could it have anything to do with the Emperor?
The Emperor and The Fool
The unbalanced Fool card is sometimes thought to be an indication of mental instability. Placing it reversed beside the Emperor, I looked to these two to provide clues about their relationship. The hope was that it could begin to give us a picture of the Emperor’s true nature.
The Emperor’s Perspective on the Fool
Looking to the sky in exasperation, the Emperor seems to be asking the Heavens for help. He holds his wand upward as a club, ready to hit the Fool’s hand and stick, and so to stop the Fool in his tracks. This would take no more effort on the Emperor’s part than it would to swat a fly. What stops the Emperor? Such an action would be unjust. The good of the people must be placed over the Emperor’s personal will and desire.
The Fool’s Perspective on the Emperor
The Fool’s privates, naked and exposed, are tortured by a devil. This grey and ghostly demon has a gentle face. It acts like a friend to the fool, yet in reality harms him.
The Fool seems to stare with hyper-focus on the Emperor. What does the fool want? Is it anticipation of harm? Perhaps some past trauma has left the Fool’s with a hyper-vigilance towards powerful figures. Does the Fool want attention, and so like a misbehaving child will do anything to be seen?
Curiously, after placing these two cards together, the woman in the Starbucks has become encalmed. Her conversation has quieted. Sometimes the mentally ill have some connection with the realm beyond – though in a way that destroys them.
Emperor Tarot Card – First Impressions
The gray-haired Emperor has wisdom from life. He holds his staff in his left hand, showing his rule to be with intuition and will aligned. His staff is capped with a 9 pointed cross suggesting a mature faith which seeks to act in accordance with that which is greater.
His right hand rests on his belt. The Emperor relies less on direct action and more on thought, planning and especially, strategy. The arrow on his sleeve pointing to his head lends support to this idea.
His eyes and expression look upward seeking to understand the grand order.
His stance is a comfortable lean suggesting ready, almost feline power. His kingdom, represented by the shield is safe and protected under his watch. The bird or dragon-like creature shows the ready ferocity directed to all enemies and those who would do ill. Beware!
Taken as a whole, the Emperor is wise, selfless, protective and with ready power.
Tarot on the Emperor
There is an element of solitary watchfulness about the Emperor. His activity is more often receptive than active as this is often the wisest course of action in the protection of his child – his kingdom. In this he is like a mother bear, fierce and watchful.
The mind of the Emperor is at peace. He has achieved a state of inner balance, nirvana, quiet. He is not troubled by self-doubts or recrimination. Rather, he is able through his mental tranquility to see things as they are. Thus, he is better able to act in the best way possible at the proper time when needed.
His kingdom is one of peace. His oversight allows prosperity for the greater number and the secure bringing up of the next generation. The Emperor’s focus is on building a society, realm or organization which will last for a long time to come.
Emperor – Highest Possible Expression
The Emperor’s highest expression is leading his empire for the good of the whole.
Emperor – Lowest Expression
In his lowest expression, the Emperor’s focus is on material gain. An increase in wealth and territory takes precedence over the well-being of his people.
- Mary Greer mentions having this same experience in her book, Tarot reversals. [↩]
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We all need someone we can trust.