The Emperor Tarot Card Meanings

The Emperor tarot card image
Meaning Indicator


The Emperor’s Upright & Reversed Meanings

The Emperor (Reversed, Lacking)

Ideas: Exceptions, foundation, modification

Traits: Adaptable, benevolent, considerate, flexible, forgiving, generous, kind, patient

Emotions: Caring, compassion, neglect, sympathy, tenderness

  • Actions:
    • Allowing occasional exceptions
    • Becoming more relaxed with others
    • Building the foundation of a structure
    • Considering other points of view
    • Developing fatherly qualities within yourself
    • Helping others without question
    • Ignoring mistakes without punishment
    • Modifying the ways of doing things
The Emperor (Upright, Balanced)

Ideas: Authority, boundaries, regulation, structure

Traits: Assertive, determined, logical, masculine, orderly, protective, responsible, stable, strong, systematic

Emotions: Contentment, enjoyment, enthusiasm, optimism, satisfaction

  • Actions:
    • Being in control of yourself and others
    • Communicating clear guidelines
    • Defining limits
    • Directing the flow of work
    • Exercising authority
    • Leading others by example
    • Setting and maintaining healthy boundaries
    • Tempering aggressive masculinity with wisdom and experience
The Emperor (Upright, Excessive)

Ideas: Dictatorship, insistence, micromanagement

Traits: Aggressive, authoritarian, critical, egocentric, impatient, rigid, selfish, stubborn

Emotions: Anger, annoyance, disappointment, dislike, displeasure, frustration, grouchiness, grumpiness, irritation

  • Actions:
    • Adhering to rules no matter what
    • Assuming a dictatorial mindset
    • Crushing the creativity of others with a rigid, iron-fisted approach
    • Insisting on getting your own way
    • Micromanaging
    • Shunning others’ codes of conduct
    • Taking care of your own needs only
    • Using overt force to achieve your goals and maintain order

The Emperor’s Advice

Personal Growth

In what ways do your attitudes towards authority seem to be shaped by your relationship with your father? A mature person recognizes that structure and authority are a requirement of civilization. Some resist purely out of habit or stubbornness; when you buck the system, be sure you have good reason to do so.


Without becoming false or deceptive, you can regulate your feelings and reactions. Beware the need to always be in control; a healthy relationship incorporates a fair division of labor. Be on the lookout for subtle (and not-so-subtle) efforts to wear the pants in the relationship.


Efficient groups depend on centralized control. Seek ways to direct the flow without micromanaging the process. Encourage leaders (including yourself) to step up to the plate and embrace their obligations. Control what you can; don’t worry about the rest.


The stereotypical view of religion casts organized faith in restrictive terms. Rather than be constrained by structure, consider how structure and discipline might enhance your spiritual experience. Seek guidance and direction from those who have walked the path before you.

The Emperor’s Symbols & Insights

The Ankh Scepter

The Emperor’s distinctive scepter hints at his dominion over life and death. In the Marseilles-style decks, the Emperor holds a standard orb and cross scepter. In your situation, what do you really control?

The Beard

The Emperor is often drawn with a full beard, suggesting masculinity and maturity. Significantly, many drawings of masculine deities (including the Christian God) incorporate long, flowing beards, emphasizing transcendent authority. Who’s in charge of your situation, and by what authority?

The Cubic Throne

In stark contrast to the Empress’s cushioned throne, the Emperor’s seat often appears to be carved out of a single marble slab, reinforcing his monolithic authority. Would rigid control be more appropriate than gentle guidance today?

Fiery Surroundings

The Emperor often appears in a blasted desert landscape (suggestive of Mars). Here, the emotional stream that flowed so freely past the Empress is often compressed into a weak, regulated trickle. How might strict emotional control help you now?

The Ram

The ram, absent in early versions of the card, suggests the Emperor’s ties to Aries. Traditionally, the ram symbolizes the fiery energy of Aries and, physically, the head of the body. Are your efforts fruitful, or are you just butting your head against a wall?

More About The Emperor Tarot Card

A father figure arrives.
A new employer or authority figure will give you orders.
Expect discipline or correction in the near future.
Between March 20 and April 19
“I am a leader in my own life and have the power to create my own reality.”
The father
Hebrew Alphabet
He[as]/Window/5, or in some decks, Tzaddi/Fish hook/90
Numerology Number
(the status quo: stability, equality, persistence)
Astrology Element
Astrology Sign
Masculine gods, including the Hebrew God, the Christian God, Allah, and Zeus
Patriarchs (Abraham) and lawgivers (Moses)
Vishnu, the Preserver
A stern figure seeks to control or restrain the main character by reminding him or her of responsibilities and obligations.
Questions to Ask
How does the issue of control or regulation impact this situation?
What would a compassionate but strict father do?
What needs more control?
Related Pages
Tarot Card Meanings Guide
Tarot Birth Card Meanings
Exploring Today’s Tarot
Consulting the Tarot
Traditional Tarot Card Meanings
Thirteen Fun Things to Do with Tarot Cards
Where to Go to Learn More
More Tarot Card Meaningss