The Emperor Tarot Card Meanings Explained

The Emperor tarot card Rider Waite



The Establishment



Father figure




General Meaning of The Emperor in a Reading

The Emperor represents authority, power, and leadership. He is the male counterpart to The Empress. He is the master of the physical world and the affairs of society. The Emperor is the archetypal father, representing structure and The Establishment.

The Emperor appears in your tarot spread to remind you that you have the authority and mastery in your physical life to achieve the goals you desire. If he appears as someone else in your life, he may represent a father figure, boss, spouse, or system of authority. The Emperor uses his discipline to organize the life around him. Through control and organization, he is realistic about his goals and uses force and fire to achieve them.

In the upright position and in his positive aspect, The Emperor is the master of control. He organizes his life in a way to exert maximum power, whether, through the law, rules and regulations or schedules. Finally, he uses concrete actions to achieve tangible goals.

The Symbolism of The Emperor

The Emperor sits upon a large stone throne in robes of red and a golden crown. His throne boasts four rams heads, which are symbolic of Aries and the planet Mars. Underneath his robes, he wears a suit of armor, suggesting that he is protected from any external threats, whether physical or emotional. In his right hand, he holds a golden scepter, and in his left a golden globe. He has mastery over the world. His long beard gives away his wisdom acquired over the years.

Behind the Emperor lies an impenetrable mountain range. He is protected but also resistant to change. A small river flows at the base of the mountain range, indicating that there is still some emotional range beneath the tough exterior. The orange sky is symbolic of the sunrise or the sunset, each one full of fire and power.

The Emperor in the Past

The Emperor JJ tarot card German Der Herrscher

When The Emperor presents in the past, you may be coming from a past relationship or home, where a father figure laid down the rules for you in a very structured and organized fashion. If this led you to a place of stability and security, then you were guided by the benevolent Emperor.

However, if you are coming from a place of dominance and control, then the Emperor was presenting in excess. Organization turns to control and authority turns to authoritarianism. Conversely, when he appears in the advice position in the past could also be indicating that you did not exercise enough discipline in the past.

The Emperor in the Present

In the present situation, he suggests there may be a person of authority in your life that is influencing the way your choices and actions. This could be a parent, teacher or spouse or even a set of laws. When he appears upright in the present, it counsels you to remember that authority is on your side. You will be secure in your progress and the rule of law will guide you on your journey.

However, in the reversed position, The Emperor puts you on notice to be careful of others who might want to take over. Whether to control you personally or to control your projects and efforts, be careful not to allow others to walk all over you.

At the other end of the spectrum, the advice could be to remember The Emperor’s teachings – perhaps you need to emulate his balanced nature in your own life. Have you become overly controlling? Or perhaps you have succumbed to the will of others without standing your own ground?

The Emperor in the Future

The Emperor in the future position puts you on notice that you will be confronted with adapting to a new set of rules and expectations. Change is coming and the change will be bold. The smallest details will greatly affect your life in the near future. If the card appears in the upright position, this new paradigm may bring you greater control and security. If it appears in the reversed position, you may face a struggle with someone in a position of power.

The Reversed Emperor

The Emperor tarot card RotschildIn the reverse position, The Emperor can represent a domineering, controlling person who places his own needs before those of others. With a lack of compassion or emotional connection, The Emperor uses more force where force does not serve him.

If the Emperor appears in reverse in a love relationship, you may be receiving a warning that you are in for a lifetime of control and emotional neglect where your needs will not be met. You may be relegated to playing expected roles and the loss of spontaneity and fun, and there is an imbalance between giving and receiving. In the reversed position, the Emperor becomes the tyrant.

The Emperor Tarot One Card Meaning

The Emperor appearing in your One Card Tarot Reading encourages you to remember that you have the control over your life that you need in order to create the life you want. Take stock of how you can best organize yourself and look to build the structures you need in order to succeed. However, take care not to become too rigid or inflexible. Depending on the query, this card can represent you or another person. The explanation that most resonates with your situation will become clear.

The Emperor Yes/No Meaning

When The Emperor appears in a Yes/No Reading, the upright position is telling you “yes.” Move forward, create the structures you need for your own success. Take control of your situation and organize your life accordingly. If he appears in the reversed position, the answer is “no.” Be careful not to act too rigidly and don’t try to control others.


As with all Major Arcana cards, The Emperor is bringing you a message of self-transformation. Because he represents structure, organization, and control, the message is to self reflect upon how these energies are serving you in your life. Are these energies excessive, or are they lacking? In terms of your environment, is there too much control in your relationships or would organization and structure improve your situation? As always, the cards have deep meanings that are unique to each querent and you must use your intuition to discover what resonates with you.

Affirmations for The Emperor

“I have control over my life and the ability to provide for my own security and for those I love.”

“I can trust and depend on my own inner power.”

“I do not need to engage in excessive control or domination to achieve my goals.”

“I have the power to achieve my dreams while remaining flexible.”

More about The Emperor

The best way to get a complete understanding of The Emperor card and how it affects your life is with a professional tarot reading. There is a lot of information in the context of a tarot spread, and the position, placement, and order of the cards are really important! When you are dealing with the Major Arcana cards, the message is always one of significant change and personal transformation.

Try out a FREE Online Tarot Reading

kasamba psychics logo The EmperorIf you would like to have some profound insight, schedule a free reading with a professional psychic at one of our partner sites. Kasamba and Keen both offer your first three minutes for free. At Oranum, you can watch your favorite tarot card reader work live on their live stream. It’s a great way to get a sense of someone’s abilities!

Article Info

Date: Feb 08, 2019
Amelie Rose Estrela is an experienced psychic and recently published, esteemed lead author for the Psychic Guild since 2003. She has written hundreds of articles for the website on a range of topics covered within the psychic niche, including Psychics & Mediums, Tarot & Angel Cards, Astrology & Horoscopes (the topic of her newly-released e-book), Love & Relationships, and Spells & Magic. You can find out more about Amelie on
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