Tyldwick - Emperor


What I notice in the Emperor card:

Lots of neatly arranged books (library)
Bust of Greek philosopher (Pythagoras possibly)
Armillary sphere
Black and white checkerboard floor
Antique writing desk

I love books, so the library in the background immediately caught my eye. I bet if you asked the Emperor what the native flora and fauna were in his kingdom and he could immediately go to the right books and pull them out. This guy is educated and enjoys learning because it helps him become a better ruler. The neatness of the books are also a hint that he is very organized. I have a tendency to feel more centered inside when my environment isn't chaotic, and I would guess he does too.

The bust on the desk is likely a Greek philosopher and could possibly be Pythagoras. Philosophers use critical thinking; they objectively observe then make evaluations based on rational argument. Pythagoras was known for his contributions to philosophy and mathematics. He created a religion known as Pythagoreanism that believed math principles were the basis of all things (math mysticism, if you will :D). The god the Emperor is most devoted to is Logic.

The armillary sphere on the right was a teaching tool that astronomers used before the invention of the European telescopes. The movable metal rings helped them determine the path of celestial objects. Originally the ball in the middle was the Earth then later the Sun. I can see the sphere as representing the Emperor's need for control. He likes advance knowledge before something happens so he can plan for it. The globe on the other side is also for knowledge, plans and strategies. You need to know where your allies and enemies are, and what lies between you.

The black and white checkerboard floor underneath the rug reminds me of a chessboard, and I would guess the Emperor rules in the same way he would play a game of chess. Predicting his opponent's next move, trying to outfox him, and looking for a strategy that would help him protect his assets while winning is his game plan. Emotions are kept out of the game, because they might cause him to make a wrong move.

The antique writing desk makes me think of the phrase "put it in writing." Legalities are necessary to this ruler to make everything and everyone function as a whole.



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I am pretty sure that the bust is one of Emperor Marcus Aurelius. He was called "the philosopher on the throne" and his appearance is styled after Greek philosophers whom he admired. But at the same time, he was an all-powerful ruler. I find Marcus Aurelius a very clever choice for this card.

I think I identified the bust which the creator of the deck used (see attached picture). There are many copies - the first attachment shows the bust in the Metropolitan Museum, the second one the bust in the Munich Glyptothek.


Nemia's reading of the bust as Marcus Aurelius makes sense and adds many dimensions to the card! He was not only a Roman Emperor but also an important Stoic philosopher (like Seneca, from the statue in the Hermit card) and author of the Meditations. This quote seems appropriate for his inclusion in the Tarot:

“Look back over the past, with its changing empires that rose and fell, and you can foresee the future too.”

As a Stoic his writings were not so concerned with manipulating events through power as with enduring the inevitable pains of life through inner strength. His philosophy epitomizes the domination of rational thought over emotion. A very fitting Emperor for inspiration!

“You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”