The Wild Unknown Tarot - The Emperor IV


First I want to apologise for any repetitions of what I wrote in the thread for The Empress card.. I think these 2 cards and their symbolism are so interwoven with each other that it's almost impossible to talk about one without the other - for me it is anyway. ;)

The number 4
The Emperor's number is IV.
4 is such a solid number... There are 4 sides to a square, 4 walls of a house, 4 legs on a table, 4 points on a compass, 4 magical elements in western magical traditions and astrology, 4 weeks in a lunar month and a calender month, 4 phases of the moon... I could go on and on..
4 is the pause after the action in the 3.. It's often referred to as the first harvest number. It's the rest that we take after the initial start of something.. It's the time when we pause, rest and look back at what we've started, give ourselves a pat on the back and begin to make plans for what will come next. It's a number about foundations, boundaries, rest, consolidation, logic and rules, it contains and it protects.. It makes me think of home, warmth, safety.

The Emperor
The Emperor is the father archetype, he's the male or masculine principle and he embodies all of the qualities that those phrases represent.
An emperor rules over an empire - he's the top dog, number one, the buck stops with him..
If The Empress is nature, The Goddess, The Lady, then The Emperor is her consort; The God.
Whilst she rules in a soft, nurturing, loving way, he rules in a harder, more masculine, logical, disciplined way.
He is all 4 kings rolled into one..
He is logical, he does not think outside of the box, he likes rules, regulations, boundaries... He likes things to be as they should be and he can be quite controlling but not always.
This card is about building an empire.. It says that you have good, strong foundations to build upon.

This Emperor
Just like The Empress, he's represented by a tree.
This time the tree is in bright daylight and a burning sun is in the sky on the right hand side of the card - or is it an eclipsed sun? If it is, what does that signify??
I'm treating the sun as a regular sun... Masculine to the moon's feminine...
This tree is a longer, more pointed (shall we say phallic?) shape... Where The Empress's tree was rounded, pink and girly looking, this tree is dark, straight, tall and strong.. It's a much more manly looking tree.
It's silhouetted in black against a white sky.
I suspect it's the same tree that's being struck by lightning in The Tower card.
So it has all of the qualities of the tree in The Empress card; It is a home, an ecosystem that supports many organisms - it's life giving and it provides shelter, food and water. It also sustains the planet's atmosphere by photosynthesis that provides oxygen and gets rid of carbon dioxide..

Straight, strong and tall...

I'm running out of things to say - comments are very welcome :).


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I greatly appreciate your commentary on this card, Sulis.

I most definitely also see a strong, masculine, phallic-looking tree. That's an interesting question about the sun possibly being eclipsed.

This tree seems very rigid to me -- not one that would be particularly flexible. The branches and leaves are very orderly, balanced, and straightforward. There's not much embellishing the tree -- just the necessities. It's a sort of "what you see is what you get" kind of card/tree -- there's strength, rigidity, forthrightness, starkness, directness, and order, with no hidden agendas. It exudes logic and sensibility without emotion.

The tree itself forms an arrow, perhaps signifying that it offers direction or can show the way. Or it could mean that the tree's way is the only way (or so it believes). The sun could signify truth and clarity. The white background seems to emphasize transparency.


Thanks for your insights!

He does seem rather pointy. :) And standing tall and apart from the other trees in full sun with evergreen needles that endure despite season.

Maybe the apparent eclipse (?) could show a potential block of this solar energy?


Such a good point (no pun intended), Gillyboo, about the different trees in the Empress and Emperor cards. That this Emperor is an evergreen emphasizes to me both his unwillingness to change AND his stability and reliability, season after season.

I'm amazed by the sagacity of this deck. The plant and animal life for each card were so judiciously selected, and the simplicity of the images belie their depth.


I'm loving all these extra insights... The evergreen, the arrow shape, the rigidity and order of the leaves - all of these things fit so well with the archetype.

I admit, I'd drawn a blank and it's not a card that comes up a lot for me in readings, that's when I often get a new flash of meaning for a card that I haven't seen before now... Put a card in context and it comes alive..

The eclipse could even be an intensifying of the solar energy - you don't want to look at that corona during an eclipse or you could damage your eyes....


I had the same initial reaction too. Well, look. Trees. Okay, now what? So this has been really helpful. I so much appreciate these insights and being able to participate.



I was wanted to add some notes on the eclipse. A total solar eclipse causes the earth to be in the moons shadow. This only happens at the new moon stage, below is some information I was reading about the full moon..

"The time of the new moon is a time to breathe in deeply and move into a calm state of mind. In this state, you can watch your emo*tions come and go and not be affected by them. In this calm*ness, you begin to see your life more clearly; you begin to see what is possible.

Now you can tune into your Soul or Higher Self. Stay calm, and let your Higher Self give you a vision of your true purpose.

The new moon is the sym*bol of begin*nings. This is a good time to con*tem*plate upon your true motive. Why are you here on Earth? What did you come here to accom*plish? What is your spir*i*tual intention?

These ques*tions tune you into the core of your being. The core of your being is in touch with the great being of the Earth. This aligns you with the dynamic vibra*tion of pur*pose. One def*i*n*i*tion of pur*pose is a goal that you set before your*self that you desire to attain. When that pur*pose has an ele*ment of good*will, it is har*mo*niz*ing with the great being of the Earth.

The moon rep*re*sents the form. This is a time to think about what form you want to cre*ate. If you are already involved in your pur*pose, you can con*sider whether there is any*thing you need to do to adjust your plan to cre*ate a bet*ter form."

- See more at:


One thing about this card that I felt today when I pulled it is that the eclipse may be signaling that although the full power of the Emperor and his wisdom is there, it doesn't always need to be shown or flaunted. It can be kept at bay, partially hidden, to be pulled out when needed. Strength, such as that of the Emperor, doesn't always need to blind or burn. It can just hang around, not necessarily drawing attention to itself, and still make an impact.


Interesting, I hadn't even considered that the 'black sun' could be an eclipse until reading this thread. I'll have to give that some more consideration. Like Sulis, I tend to very much see the Emperor & Empress as a pair in the Wild Unknown. Here are my initial thoughts on the Emperor.


In the Wild Unknown Tarot deck, the Empress and the Emperor are represented by trees. Unlike the deciduous Empress, the Emperor is an evergreen. Whatever rough weather, whatever time of year, the evergreen tree remains solid. The Empress will grow new leaves, blossoms, fruit, and go through cycles. The Emperor will remain consistent.

There is a black sun in the background, radiating gentle orange and yellow, the only color in the card. The colors are a throwback to the Magician – but instead of emanating widely, this sun is a concentrated ball of energy. The Magician’s energy is expansive and creative; The Emperor’s energy is firmly rooted, sensible and logical.

While the Empress was surrounded by the night sky, the Emperor’s domain is the clear light of day. He is a commandeering figure who dominates the landscape and can see all that is around him. He offers shelter and protection from the stark surroundings.

The Emperor forms a natural pair with the Empress. The Emperor shows us the power of structure and consistency. He is a masculine (yang) balance to the feminine (yin) energy of the Empress. He may come across as harsh, and she may come across as soft. They work together to show us ‘the middle way.’


The Magician’s energy is expansive and creative; The Emperor’s energy is firmly rooted, sensible and logical.

He may come across as harsh, and she may come across as soft. They work together to show us ‘the middle way.’

Lovely! Well stated!