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The Emperor IV

Emperor Keywords

Upright: Power, leadership, money, structure

Reversed: Tyranny, manipulation, inflexibility

Zodiac Sign: Aries

Numerology: 4

Element: Fire

Next card: The Hierophant V

The Emperor Meaning

If The Empress is the "mother" of the Major Arcana, then The Emperor is the "father."

The Emperor is represented by the number 4, the number of structure, success, and foundation. Because of that, automatically there's a sense of stability associated with The Emperor. "Fours" are about structure, but we can see how that can easily turn to tyrannical or overbearing if the energy is too strong (i.e. the card is reversed or in a prominent location).


The Emperor's ruling sign and planet, Aries and Mars, can bring this "me-focused" (Aries) and combative (Mars) energy into play.  

If The Empress is the "mother" of the Major Arcana, then The Emperor is the "father" of the Major Arcana. We can see plenty of duality at play with these two cards. Typically, The Empress is depicted in an outdoor scene—as she is organic, emotional, and natural. On the other hand, The Emperor is depicted in a city-like scene—as he is manufactured, logical, and material-minded. As such, we can also see the polarities work the same way when the energy is in excess. The Empress can act overly emotional, moody, or smothering, whereas The Emperor can act overly controlling, cold, or demanding.

With the "mother" and "father" energies now introduced in the Major Arcana, The Emperor brings in the idea of structure after forming duality. We can see dualistic sides and, therefore, come to an understanding of how to rule. It's for that reason, this card represents a crowned leader.

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The Emperor Upright

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The Emperor as a person can be a lot to handle. Since he is so focused on control (not just of others, but of the world around him), he can be very particular. So, seeing this card in an upright position can indicate that you're either maintaining or seizing control of a situation. In that execution, you may also be stepping into a leadership role. So, often, The Emperor appears when we're leading big projects or starting our own company.


Since this is the "father" of the Major, this card can be a little more patriarchal and can be associated with fathers, father figures, or high-powered men. He is someone who "protects" or acts as the leader of the family.


Additionally, this card represents someone who is very traditional. They have stable values and hold themselves in the highest regard.


Ultimately, The Emperor is trustworthy not only because he's self-assured, but also because he can follow through. He gains respect because he isn't afraid to take action. But on the other hand, he also isn't afraid to anger others based on what he feels is "right." This is what makes him such a great leader!

Another thing to note is that his energy can be very charming and enchanting. The Emperor possesses a quality that makes anyone feel safe with him—so, naturally, others can't seem to stay away.

The Emperor Reversed

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This person is a leader, yes. However, because he is so self-assured and overly confident, he also does not like to be questioned. So, this can make him quick to deflect or become defensive.

This can also come off as dominating or controlling. The Emperor needs to know that people are looking to him to determine what happens next. And the reason for that is because more power equals more value. So, when people begin to question his authority, he automatically believes his value depreciates.


Being represented by a fire sign (Aries), on a bad day, The Emperor can be quick to anger or bring to heated conversations. It's important to note that this comes more from an issue of insecurity—or a fear of being wrong—than actually believing he is right all the time. This person comes off fierce, but they have a sensitive center. 

Since this card is very material-focused, Emperor energy is very good with money. However, he can also be materialistic because the "value" of things is his main concern. 


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