Quentum: The Empress


The Quantum Empress is subtitled "Gravity", and one can see at a glance why. Both the Empress and Gravity are about the force of attraction. There is something particularly compelling about the gravity of a large, dense object, and there is something particularly compelling about the Empress.

The Empress is not about sexual attraction though, let me hasten to add. She is about a kind of gravitational attraction instead: the archetypal mother or grandmother, great hugger and consoler, about the cornucopia of plenty, about creation in all its manifest forms. Even in our debased folk-culture, the old Pagan fertility-Goddesses that the Empress exemplifies still exists, trivialised and referred to as "Mother Nature". Even atheists are okay with Mother Nature - her gravitational pull on the minds of humanity is too strong for even the bitterest cynic to defy.

A baby cannot be formed if, right at the beginning of creation, a barrage of sperm cells didn't race against the clock and each other to be the first to reach her. Why do they race in the first place? Because they were wound up? No - if that were so, then the near-misses would keep hurtling up the fallopian tubes and they manifestly don't - they run out of puff much sooner than that. No, they race because they are attracted. Attracted by the gravitational pull of a huge round body many thousands of times their own weight, as you and I are attracted by the gravitational pull of the earth, many more thousands of times *our* own weight.

A world cannot be formed if, right at the beginning of creation, a cloud of particles didn't coalesce, and with their incredibly small amounts of gravity pair off, then form clusters that tended to stay together more often than they bounced apart. Over millions of years this thin fog becomes thicker, then thicker still, until it is pressed in and still agitated, igniting particularly dense and superheated regions into burnings stars which then form their own planetary systems. Gravity is the beginning of all things, and the Empress is the beginning of all things.

When I look at the card I see a lot of pink, which I assume is maternal love, or possibly even the blood-mysteries of motherhood. The large feminine symbol in the top-right is balanced by a small brightly silver object in the bottom-left and top-left corners, an object I've looked at and still don't have a handle on. Chris? Kay? There are also dust-clouds billowing in space within this cards, in the process of condensing down under their own gravity to the point where they might one day form stars and planets - and I'm struck, having already talking about human conception, how similar to nutritious uterine lining it looks, provided by the Empress in all of us to both feed and cushion our young.

Along with a lot of other Empress cards in other decks, the actual Empress in this card annoys me slightly, and for the same reason. She is too young. She looks barely old enough to be a junior queen-in-training yet, never mind a senior Queen who rules over a conglomerate of kingdoms merged into an empire. Also, while young girls might be more fertile than older woman, older women sure-as-hell have more descendants than young girls, and a *much* better handle on creating and nurturing their young. Why do you think grandmothers are so valuable? They remember when they were smooth-faced and hopelessly distraught about a baby who wouldn't stop crying too, and they have the past experience of remembering what worked and what didn't work, whilst a younger woman is painfully beginning to acquire that experience.

An older figure, with a bit more authority and experience, therefore, to me makes a better Empress: not the mother who might have accidentally conceived, but the all-powerful Grandmother ruling her clan, kitchen full of all the good things the mothers don't have the time or energy to make that draw grandchildren from miles around. Not the figurehead pretty princess in the Big Dress, but the older ruler who wears flat shoes because that way her feet don't hurt, and she can concentrate on thinking about the bigger things. Which is why her politicians and generals respect her.

However, the pretty, full-lipped woman in this card is as usual overlaid with hints of other images: aside from her very young mouth, I can age her as I like in my mind's eye. Certainly, the boiling clouds pulling themselves together with their own gravitational force, have all the authority and creative power that you'd expect of the finest Empress.