IV. The Emperor


Key words

Upright: authority, structure, leadership

Reversed: domination, tyranny, rigidity, lack of confidence


The Emperor sits on a stone throne adorned with rams, a symbol of Mars. They hold a scepter resembling an ankh in one hand and a globe in the other to indicate their power over the physical realm and widespread authority. Their red robe signifies power and passion, and their long beard symbolizes wisdom which comes from age and experience. A suit of armor peeks out from under their robe. They sit atop a stark, barren mountain, a sign of sterility, regulation, and unyielding power.


4: Structure, foundations, stability

The Emperor Upright

The Emperor is often seen as an enforcer, but they are also a protector. The Emperor takes a methodical, structured approach to leadership and problem-solving. They know that leadership does not require maintaining control over others, and that power must be used responsibly and benevolently. If you have privilege afforded to you by patriarchy, institutional racism, or other systems of oppression, consider how you can use your power to dismantle those systems and lift up affected individuals. Less privileged folks are encouraged to channel The Emperor’s “protector” role, whether that means protecting fellow community members, themselves, or their inner child. 

The Emperor Reversed

When you’re feeling vulnerable or disenfranchised, The Emperor reminds you to speak up for yourself. Standing up to authority isn’t always easy and can even be dangerous for some people, so make an assessment of your own safety and act accordingly. It’s also worth considering whether you are the one abusing power. Is a rigid worldview or bias holding you back? Remember that power is not a zero-sum game. You can exercise your leadership skills while nurturing the same in others. If you are feeling hesitant to take a leadership position, ask yourself what’s holding you back. Draw strength from The Emperor and harness your inner power.