The Emperor: CEO of the Tarot

Matthias – Holy Roman Emperor (Hans von Aachen, 1625)

What is the first thing that comes to mind when someone says “emperor”? There are lots of references from both history and pop culture that shape our thinking around this word: the emperor’s new clothes, the Roman empire. Most however have to do with power, ruling, leadership, and commanding.

I like to think of The Emperor in the tarot as the CEO, the chief executive officer. It seems a rather good way to encapsulate the energies that this card embodies.

Here we have a man (and of course this can also be a woman who embodies these qualities) who is simply in charge. The Emperor is an excellent leader; a strategic, disciplined thinker; and someone who gets the job done. Success generally follows, because The Emperor puts in the hard work, dedication, and time necessary to produce results, and in addition, he has the self-confidence and the wisdom and experience to make the tough decisions. Sometimes this power is bestowed, sometimes earned, but in all cases it’s at the Emperor’s disposal and how he wields this power makes all the difference.

Authority figures and high-level administrators/decision makers of many kinds fall under this role, from presidents to CEOs, entrepreneurs to orchestra conductors, restaurant managers to wedding planners. The main concept behind this card is that of being in control and having power and authority to accomplish tasks of importance. Often this is in career, but it can also be seen in relationships, for example: a dominant partner, or a partner who “takes the lead” or has more confidence, or the more rational, logical thinker compared to a more emotional Empress-like partner.

When you see The Emperor in a career or work-related reading, you can ask the following questions:

– Where do I get my power and how do I manage it?
– How effective am I as a leader?
– What will help me to have a more commanding presence that is worthy of respect?
– What skills and practices have I put into place that will bring measurable results?

When you see The Emperor in a love or relationship reading, you can ask the following questions:

– What is this card trying to tell me about the balance of power in my relationship?
– What aspects of my relationship are too tightly managed or too rigid or unspontaneous? Is there a need to loosen up a bit and be less strategic in the relationship?
– Is my relationship benefiting or losing ground due to the need for control and command?
– Does my relationship need specifically outlined rules and regulations regarding boundaries or norms, in order to be successful?

When The Emperor turns up reversed in a reading, you can ask the following questions:

– What isn’t working in terms of leadership, control, or management of this situation?
– Are there signs of weakness and/or indecision when a reassuring and take-charge approach is called for?
– Is an erratic emotional approach detracting from getting results when a solid and steady, non-emotional guiding hand is needed?
– Is there an inner fear of power or of taking charge? Is there a lack of respect for authority?

The Emperor brings a sense of security and stability to a reading. In his hands we know that everything will be well-managed and that even unexpected problems will be resolved, because he will take charge in all situations and make sure that the results meet or exceed expectations. However, in exchange for his commanding and confident management and execution of plans, he expects that those around him respect his authority, defer to his judgement, and follow his lead.

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