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TotOP - IV - The Emperor

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TotOP - IV - The Emperor


The Emperor

Astrological Influence - Aries*
Element - Fire*
Month - March, April
Contributor - Lois Bourne
Flower - Iris ~ hope, power, eloquence

* I'm not certain about these correspondences. In the section about this card they are listed as Mercury and Air, but in the "Quick Reference Guide to Major Arcana Correspondences" (pg. 79) they are listed as Aries and Fire. The latter are more traditional and make more sense based on the symbols and colours used in the card, so I chose them for the above list over the other set given.


As pointed out by Two of Wands in the thread on the Empress, the Emperor is a complement to her. Where she is light in hair, he is dark. Her environment is wild, his is tamed. She is fertility and creativity, he is power and authority. Her greens are balanced by his reds. Together these two are more powerful then apart.

This card features a dark-haired man dressed in fiery read and gold (power, passion) and wearing a purple, fur-trimmed cape (regal, majesty). He is seated on a throne bearing the symbol of an eagle (authority) and an ankh (or crux ansata as the book names it). The arm of the throne is decorated with a ram's head, and a ram also stands beside the man, bring in the symbol of Aries and a feeling of power and head strong ambition. In his hand the man holds a peach, which apparently means his character is of unequaled quality.

The background of the card presents an interesting contrast to the Empress card. There the wild forest can been seen slightly off to the left, but in the middle of the card we see it has been cleared and turned into a meadow. A castle or keep stands nearby, and although it is an imposing stone structure, it is built within the trees and looks to have no protecting walls. This is perhaps a comment of the Emperor's ability to protect his people by force of will alone. The children playing in the meadow may also reflect this. They seem to have no cares or worries.
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I love this card for The Emperor, I think it makes what is often a fairly bland card in other decks into a really thought provoking card.

It's certainly interesting how The Emperor card and The Empress card have been designed to compliment each other and I think that Silverlotus makes a really good point in saying "together these two are more powerful than apart".

The colours and mood of this card are great... On a beautiful sunny day the Emperor sits in his large garden at peace with the elements around him and contemplating the future or maybe just basking in the present. His castle, protected by trees, stands proud in the background...

He looks very much a peace, there is little to suggest the war-like Emperor that we see in some cards. For example he is wearing pleasant, earthy looking soft materialed boots, as opposed to the chain-mail we sometimes see. He is, however, wearing an armoured breast plate and it is arguably the Emperor that we see again later in The Mastery (Chariot) card.

He wears the metal armlets that are a common motif of an Emperor card, which The High Priestess in this deck also wears.

What initially may seem quite a unique feature is the children playing. I think this gives the card a very human quality and reminds the reader of his role as the father, just as the Empress has her role as the mother. Actually, it is the traditional Rider Waite deck that has overlooked this aspect (at least in terms of image), but if we go back to the very earliest decks in existence, we will find that in some, like the Cary-Yale Visconti Tarocchi Deck, it is not so unusual to depict the Emperor with children in his presence.

As Silverlotus points out, there is an Ankh symbol on his throne and actually one on his ring if you look closely. Again, this is a symbol commonly used for the Emperor card and he often holds a rod bearing the symbol. Beneath is a brief note on its origin and meaning.


THE ANKH

Throughout Egyptian civilization, which lasted some 6,000 years, charms and talismans played a conspicuous part, both in their religious and civil life. The Ankh, the symbol of life, one of Egypt's most popular and ancient amulets, was supposed to bestow upon the wearer, intelligence, power, and abundance. It was formed by the hieroglyphic RU, O, set on a cross, the loop RU representing a fish's mouth (supposed to give birth to water), and in this form represents the key of the Nile, which inundates the country, fertilizing the land and bringing prosperity. Most of the Egyptian gods are shown holding an Ankh, and their kings always carried one at their coronations.

Source: http://www.luckymojo.com/willss15ankh.html
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I have some mixed feelings about the Emperor card in general. I have no issues with powerful men, so I don't think that's it. However, it almost seems to me that this card is male, and the Empress is female. And with this deck meant to be Wiccan-influenced, I sort of feel that more. The Emperor is a representative of the god, and the Empress is a representative of the goddess. She is green and serene, he is red and fiery (just look at his sleeves!).

It is interesting that the LWB gives one of the upright meanings as patriarchal. I'm thinking that perhaps instead of taking that to have the "modern" meaning of oppressiveness, etc. it could be taken to mean more along the lines of a father-figure, as the original meaning of the word intended. So, where as the Empress is the mother, the Emperor is the father. The Empress's children are unborn or babes in arms that she can nurture and teach. The Emperor's children are older, off exploring on their own, and he does what he can to protect them. Maybe this Emperor card makes more sense to me then I thought, because in most Emperor cards I don't see the father side at all... Thinking out loud can be very useful.
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Definitely one of the things I like about this card is the "role of the father" signified in the card which I identified earlier. Looking closely at the children playing in the grounds, they look like local children by their quite basic clothes, and, if so, this shows this Emperor's relaxed attitude. However, I have always thought of them as his own children just playing, and I like this idea. This fits with what Silverlotus sayings: "The Emperor's children are older, off exploring on their own".

In most decks, I think the Emperor and Empress are boring usually because they are archetypal, and a little too perfect. We get a much better look at the dynamics between male and female (and male and female as couples) later on with the Kings and Queens of the four suits. And we get to see other aspects of the male and female gender, strengths and vulnerabilities, in cards like The High Priestess and The Hanged Man for example (or The Lone Man in this deck).

However, in this deck I think The Emperor and Empress become far more interesting. Yes they still retain their archetypal differences: they are the ultimate embodiment of the male and the female respectively and this is an important representation, and one that ultimately does exist. But unlike most decks, this one shows what they share. We've already noted how their positioning shows that when you put the cards together they make a whole, and I think that there is more of a suggestion of a partnership in this deck than in others. Admittedly when I first looked at this deck, I still saw The Empress as being depicted at as a fairly limited card: there only to serve the purpose of motherhood. But as discussed in The Empress thread, far more does come to light on study, and I think her similarity to The High Priestess is confirmation that this Empress can stand alone.

I'm finding it hard to explain this but I guess what I'm saying is that I remain impressed by how these two cards are dealt with in this deck. I think many people read of this deck and expect it to focus entirely upon empowering women. I don't think it sees that as a concern however, as I think it already assumes that power. Instead, it focuses far more on balance and the empowerment of human nature, both masculine, feminine and the inner spirit which really needs no differentiation at all.

Be interested to know what you think. Come to think of it, I'll be interested to know what I think when I read it back!
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More rereading and rethinking.

I have a problem with the book naming the symbol in the Emperor's throne a crux ansata, when in actuality it is an ankh. There are many people, and many websites, that will claim they are the same thing. But, they aren't. An ankh has a sort of upside-down teardrop shape on the top, while the crux ansata has a circle.

This particularly bothers me because of my interest (or obsession maybe) with Ancient Egyptian history. And really, in terms of this card and the theme of this deck, I believe the ankh is a more meaningful symbol. Anyway, enough ranting.


In the last post, Two of Wands mentions the depiction of the sexes in this deck. I have to agree. Even though the LWB claims this deck is "A Handbook of Female Wisdom", this deck is very well balanced. The pictures may be a little airy and flowing, but the messages are still very strong and balanced.

To rant a wee bit more, I'm glad a deck claiming to be based on Wicca wasn't slanted towards women. Wicca is supposed to be a religion of balance between man and woman, Lord and Lady.
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"I'm glad a deck claiming to be based on Wicca wasn't slanted towards women. Wicca is supposed to be a religion of balance between man and woman, Lord and Lady."

I'm glad to hear you say this, it's my feelings exactly, which is one of the reasons I feel drawn to this deck and repelled by others such as 'Mothepeace'.

As for the crux ansata and the ankh, I confess in my ignorance, that I've always thought that they were the same thing, and the small paragraph I sourced above did. I feel like taking it out now! Is there much known about what the different symbols stand for? Are they meant to be related? I must confess it's really disappointing if they've used and reffered to a symbol they have not fully researched.
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Quite honestly, the two terms are used fairly interchangably by many. But the ankh is an Ancient Egyptian symbol, and the crux ansata is one used by the Coptic church. I believe their meanings are fairly similar, but I guess in a Pagan deck it is more appropriate to use a "pagan" symbol.

I've found one site the explains the differences, but then goes on to include a passage from a book that says they are the same thing. *sigh*
http://www.holoweb.net/~liam/pictures/ankh/ankh.html

Anyway, no need to change your post! It will be easier to recall the progression of ideas with everying intact.
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