The Emperor is a powerful Major Arcana card. The image on this card in the classic Rider-Waite tarot deck depicts a king seated on a throne made of stone.
We can feel the power and energy exuding from this man and we feel that he is mighty and a bit ruthless. The expression on his face is stoic and he seems to be contemplating his next actions.
His throne is giant and ornamented with ram heads, the symbol of the sign of Aries which is associated with the Emperor card. This card is also related to the planet Mars, the ruler of Aries.
He is dressed in a red robe which symbolizes his power and energy. His long white beard is a symbol of his wisdom and experience.
The mountains behind the throne are a sign of strength and resilience. Behind the throne, we see a thin blue line of a river flowing in front of the mountains.
This river is a sign of the Emperor’s emotional side which exists but it is not easy to reach.
The Emperor tarot card meanings
The Emperor card is the fourth card from the Major Arcana card group.
This card symbolizes protection, patriarchy, as well as material power. It is a sign of a power shift for the better when it appears in a tarot spread.
This card can be a sign of leadership position, promotion at work, success, etc. It symbolizes an authority figure, your father, or your boss, for example.
It is a symbol of authority, confidence, stability, and structure. This card also symbolizes protection, maturity, safety, providing, practicality, logic, and leadership.
When the card is in the reversed position, it can indicate abuse of power, manipulation, rigidity, lack of discipline and control, stubbornness, father issues, detachment, dominant nature, tyranny, and absence of a father figure.
The Emperor tarot card as a person
When the Emperor card represents a person in a spread, it can indicate someone very ambitious, stable, and mature, but also controlling, and manipulative.
This card has strong masculine energy, and the person represented by this card can possess such energy. The person might be depicted as fearless, driven, energetic, and prone to taking action and giving initiative.
The person represented by the Emperor card is also a leader and provides for the ones he cares for. The person is emotional but carefully chooses the ones they will disclose this side of personality.
The meaning can be the opposite if the card is placed in a reversed position.
The Emperor tarot card as a person in the upright position
When the Emperor card represents a person and it is placed in the upright position, this indicates that this person is very firm and decisive. They are very organized and lead a structured life.
This person has strong masculine energy, regardless of their gender. This makes them very active and energetic, assertive, and fiery. These traits make up a significant part of their identity.
They are born leaders and they need to experience themselves in this role at least at one point in their lives.
It is an inherent part of their nature, and they usually undertake this role in their relationships and partnerships.
Their nature is dominant and confident. They know their goals and are not afraid to go after them. People are drawn to their power and they are usually respected. They are charismatic and attractive.
They are well-built and usually muscular. They are often into sports activities that will help them stay fit. They often choose clothes that will accentuate their strength.
Their nature is commanding and demands respect and obedience. People know that they cannot easily confront their will. Most of them are “alpha” type personalities and are naturally born leaders.
They control their emotions and reactions. Even though they can be very emotional it is not easy for others to see this side of their personality because they tend to hide it so they won’t be taken advantage of.
The person represented by the Emperor card often hides their emotions and appears very cold.
They don’t relax easily and it is not easy for them to form an emotional bond with someone in a relationship. They need to gain their trust and get to know someone well before opening up emotionally to them.
This card indicates someone successful and someone capable of reaching the top of the corporate ladder. They are capable of building a strong foundation starting from nothing.
They are often found in the legal field, law enforcement, the military, working for the government, etc.
They are someone others can rely upon. They know how to get things done and people trust their judgment. You know that things are under control when this person is managing the situation.
This person often undertakes a protective and fatherly role in situations. They are honest and direct but they make things done.
They won’t beat around the bush and will tell you how things are, but with them, you know that everything will be alright in the end.
When you are represented by the Emperor card in a tarot reading, this might mean that you will need to undertake a fatherly role in some situations.
You might be called to take care of someone or provide for someone.
In some cases, you might even be called to take the role of a head in your family. You might be called to provide for the safety and stability of your loved ones.
This might mean undertaking some extra duties but you are confident that you can accomplish that.
Sometimes when you are represented by the Emperor in the upright position in a reading, this will mean that you will be asked to undertake a leadership role in some situation.
This will come naturally to you because you have these traits in your personality. Being subordinate is not natural to you because it doesn’t allow you to express the full power of your personality and your abilities.
When you are represented by the Emperor in a tarot spread, this can also indicate accomplishing some success and gaining status. It can also indicate fulfilling some desires and goals.
The Emperor tarot card as a person in the reversed position
When you are represented by the Emperor card in the reversed position in a tarot reading, this usually indicates issues with your personality.
You might be overly domineering and have control issues. You could be someone prone to manipulating and controlling others without an objective reason.
This can indicate bullying people and treating them badly just because you can.
Sometimes the Emperor card in the reversed position as a person describes someone prone to drama and tantrums just to get what they want at any cost.
Because the Emperor card is in the reversed position, this could manifest as aggressive and angry behavior this person might often express.
They don’t know how to use their potential in a wise and controlled manner and are instead wasting their energy unproductively.
Contrary to the energy of the Emperor in the upright position, the energy of the Emperor in the reversed position is destructive.
They might express this destructiveness even towards those they love and should care about.
They might be overly focused on their physical appearance and overly active. They are also emotionally destructive and sometimes verbally and physically aggressive.
This person might be prone to abuse and humiliate others, bringing them down so they could feel good. They don’t possess the strength and confidence of the Emperor.
Deep down they are weak and lack self-love and confidence. Their lack of self-love makes them hurt others. This person might be very insecure and selfish.
They might have the will to become a leader but they usually lack the skills for this position. If they do have the skills they lack the interpersonal skills and might be perceived as a tyrant by their subordinates.
In some cases, these people might be hungry for power, just for the power itself. They want the feeling of importance even though they don’t have what it takes to take on such a role.
When they do find themselves in such a role, they might be prone to abusing it and becoming corrupt. People don’t trust them and they often irritate others, especially if they happen to be in a boss position.
They might be prone to disrespectful behavior and mistreating people who work for them and are beneath them in the hierarchy.
When you are shown in a tarot reading by the Emperor in the reversed position this is not a good sign.
This usually indicates that you are not up to the role that you are in right now, whether it is the role of a protector or a boss.
This card might ask you to question your attitude. Maybe you have been treating people disrespectfully, acting controlling and manipulative, and hurting people’s feelings without a reason.
It is not a coincidence that you are showing up as the Emperor in the reversed position and you should ask yourself why.
If you continue to behave wrongfully, that will surely backfire on you.
Sometimes, showing up as the Emperor in the reversed position might indicate your reluctance to undertake the role of a leader or authority you were born to do because of shyness or lack of faith in your abilities.
This is why you show up as the opposite and the cards might be signaling you to make the necessary changes.
The Emperor is a powerful Major Arcana card. When it shows up as the card representing you, that has great significance.
If the Emperor tarot card in the upright position represents you in a reading, this is a very good sign, indicating the success of your actions, rising on the social scale, acquiring a leadership position, performing a fatherly and protective role, etc.
This card can be a sign to you to embrace some of these roles, according to your current circumstances.
This card might also depict your personality as someone very determined, confident, and organized. You might have a dominant personality, but you are also very just and generous.
You might have a strong sense of self-control, and you could appear very strict and reserved, while in fact, you are very emotional and kind.
When the Emperor card appears in the reversed position representing you, this can speak about some opposite traits.
This card placed in the reversed position might describe you as someone who doesn’t have the capacity for the roles they are asking for.
You might be very controlling and manipulative, and you could be mistreating people for no reason.
With this placement of the Emperor card, you could also be described as someone hungry for power and would do anything to get there, even though you don’t deserve that.
Sometimes this can indicate the need to step into these roles and overcome your doubts and worries.
The Emperor in the reversed position as a person often describes someone who only pretends to have the Emperor qualities, while in fact, they are very weak and lack confidence.