Who is the Empress?


Who is the Empress?

The Empress card of the tarot deck is a portrayal of the constellation Cassiopeia, the celestial queen of the heavens. Cassiopeia was the wife of Cepheus, a legendary king of Ethiopia.

Cassiopeia was a woman of great beauty, but also of great vanity. On one occasion she publicly claimed that she and her daughter Andromeda were more beautiful than the Nerieds, who were sea-nymphs. When the Nerieds heard of Cassiopeia's boast, they complained to Poseidon, the god of the Oceans.

Poseidon decided to punish Cassiopeia by sending the sea-monster Cetus to ravage the kingdom. Cepheus learned from Ammons's oracle that in order to save his kingdom, he must sacrifice his daughter Andromeda by chaining her naked to a rocky cliff as an offering to the sea-monster Cetus.

As the sea-monster approached Andromeda, the hero Perseus just happened to be flying by on the back of Pegasus the winged horse. Looking down he saw the sea-monster getting near and Andromeda clained to the rocks. He saw the King Cepheus and Queen Cassiopeia standing on a cliff nearby, so he made a hasty landing there and learned the story about Cassiopeia's boast and the consequences of it.

Suddenly he struck a deal with the grieving parents: Perseus would have Andromeda's hand in marriage and also a kingdom in return for rescuing their daughter. The king and queen quickly agreed so Perseus jumped upon Pegasus and took off toward Andromeda and the sea-monster.

A fierce battle between Perseus and the sea-monster then ensued, but Cetus the sea-monster was destroyed and Andromeda was rescued. This story continues in the Emperor card and the Lovers card.

Eventually upon Cassiopeia's death, Poseidon placed her among the stars of Cassiopeia in a royal chair. Her feet point toward the northern star Polaris, so she is usually seen on her back with her feet in the air. In that uncomfortable position she spins as a further punishment for her boast and as a blow to her pride.

Look at Cassiopeia's role in this story to determine the moral of this tale. One moral of the story was not to anger the gods or compare yourself to the mythical figures unless you want to incur their wrath. The vain boast by Cassiopeia started the whole mess, so maybe boasting is the real evil. Cassiopeia was made an example of so that the people would have respect for the mythical figures, such as the Nereids.

The Empress is seen in the constellation Cassiopeia. The Empress is Cassiopeia.

Links to Wikipedia article on Cassiopeia:

The constellation Cassiopeia by Johann Bayer as the EMPRESS card in the Tarot.

The constellation Cassiopeia by Julius Hyginus as the EMPRESS card in the Tarot.

Links to historical illustrations of Cassiopeia:

- Cartomancer (Lance Carter)