The Emperor

The Emperor Tarot Card Meaning – 4th Arcana

What does the Emperor card mean?

Each Major Arcana in Tarot carries its own spiritual meaning and has a powerful energy, positive or negative. Fourth Arcana Emperor belongs to the group of positive cards in fortune telling. This card, with power, fire, strength, is a symbol of the Great Creator of the Universe. It personifies the will to power, the transition from creation to action.
The fourth Arcana of the Tarot talks about situations when obstacles cannot be overcome by goodwill, love, or wisdom – then the determination to raise the sword is needed. The card shows that you cannot go against your conscience, that a decent existence sometimes requires a struggle.
The Emperor is a symbol of the power of the spirit, intellect. The appearance of this Arcana in the spread suggests that the individual is looking for meaning, wisdom. His intellect prevails over feelings, he is strong and is able to defend his point of view.

Names in Other Languages: L’Imperadore, L’Empereur, Der Weise.

The occult meaning of the arcana: breast (lactating).

The physical meaning of the arcana: lord, patron, guardian.

The Kabbalistic meaning of the Arcana: Lord.

Spirit Orb: structuring diversity.

Goal: protection of the achieved results, guarantee of reliability and order.

Element: Fire.

Planet: Mars, Sun.

Astrological sign: Aries, Sagittarius.

Key date: March-April.

Places: a place that was significant in the old days, and still has not lost its significance; fortress; lock; the ancient part of the city; town hall.

The Emperor Tarot Card Meaning


The elderly sovereign sits in the throne, behind him are the mountains. The head of the lord is crowned with a crown, in his right hand he holds a scepter.
(For a detailed depiction, analysis of the Symbols and all Elements of The Emperor Tarot Card, click here)

Meaning of the Card

If the Empress teaches people to work together, then the Emperor Tarot protects the house from outside danger. You are able to fight for people, property and treasures.
The Emperor is a wise teacher. He teaches the meaning of life and the use of earthly power. There are forces that neither goodwill nor suitable training can overcome. Sometimes it takes the determination to raise the sword. The Emperor teaches that one must not compromise with one’s conscience, that a decent existence sometimes requires a struggle.
As a man, the protector of the house, the Emperor is the legislator and patriarch, the protector of his world. The Emperor Tarot symbolizes another type of earthly wisdom: understanding that it is not enough to desire peace and tranquility, or even to teach it, sometimes you need to have determination and the ability to protect them.
After an unsuccessful struggle, you resigned yourself to the dictates of the world around you and put your life in order, adapted to them. Now everything seems to be going as you intended. For some time you have the fear that everything could go to dust. Therefore, you try to drown out your inner voice, to suppress feelings and emotions in order to remain faithful to the idea. This is a mistake: give yourself freedom, listen to your inner voice! Remember that there are deeds and things in the world that are much more significant than you and all your Napoleonic plans. But do not despair: the lost one can always turn back and go out on the right road.
On a purely ordinary level, the Emperor can mean advice to seek help from a “strong” (father, boss, etc.) or to show strength himself. However, in this case, it is necessary to know the measure, for the force, which by inertia continues to be used when the need for it has already disappeared, becomes destructive (the vice of all revolutions). In rare cases, it means some kind of superhuman strength, “heavenly patron”, help from above.

Positive Aspects of the Card

Courage and daring. Will and determination. Responsibility and conservatism.

Negative Aspects of the Card

Despotism and a tendency to make wrong decisions. Authority and the desire to be overwhelming.

In an Upright Position

Key Words and Phrases

The world of adults. Male power and control. Self-affirmation. Status. Contacting government agencies. Temporary power. An influential man. External world. The structures of society. The order that we impose on the world. Royalty. Rational thinking. Striving for achievement, success, respect and stability. The desire to create something that will not lose its value over time. Regulation. Domination. Reflections on events. Dominant position in relation to the world. Ambition. Security. Structure. Force. Luxury. Fearlessness. Hardness. Stability. Leadership. Law and order. Wisdom. Logics. Reason prevails over feelings. Spirit of the law. “Superego” according to Freud. According to Jung, it is the archetype of the Animus. Self-control. Completion. Achievement. Confession. Governing body. Gaining independence. Material wealth. Career advancement. The beginning of new projects with a solid foundation. Rational perception. Control. Music.

The main meanings of the card in an upright position

Head of the family, boss;
Rough, ruthless authority;
Superiority of reason;
Denial of feelings;
Defending your authority;
Divine mercy;
Experience-based strength and power;
Aggression, stubbornness and, at the same time, inner wisdom;
Persistence, determination;
Success depends only on the strength of the questioner;
Pragmatic approach to business;
Reliability, strengthening relationships;
Loss of illusions;
Defender against external threats.

Situation and Advice

The Emperor says that by using the ability to think rationally and moving from thought to action, you can achieve success. You are capable of advancement, your excellent organizational skills will be appreciated. You may be dealing with an important rival or someone in a leadership position. It is a card of respect, stability, strength, leadership, and rationality. It informs that you become an independent person as you assert yourself in this world.
Now is the time to take action, perhaps you need to organize some kind of structure, create a stable environment. A mentor or partner can help you. Perhaps you will soon achieve a high position in society. The Emperor indicates that you attach too much importance to dominance in love relationships, and this can lead to the fact that they lose sensuality and affection from the partner. In terms of the situation, this card warns against extremes and suggests considering the possibility of a compromise with public opinion.

Persons designated by Upright The Emperor Tarot Сard

Father. Husband. A person in power or in a high position. An important or influential man. A man with paternal instincts. Opponent. An important contender. A man ready to help. The president. Employer. Land owner. The one who has the power. Reliable, stable business person. Organizer. Mentor. The team in which you work. Person in leadership positions. Upper class. A regal man. Someone who acts directly and with pressure. Political leader.

In a Reversed Position

Key Words and Phrases

Refusal to grow and mature. Avoiding problems. Lack of control or discipline. Tyranny. Pressure from authorities or superiors. Insubordination. Immaturity. Inferiority complex. Problems in relations with the authorities. Peter Pan Syndrome. Rebelliousness. Addiction. Roughness in relationships. Militancy. Coarseness. Impatience. Indecision. Insecurity. Laziness. Limited thinking. Logic that oppresses the senses. Arbitration. Following the “letter” rather than the “spirit” of the law. Difficulties. Excessive responsibility. Lack of leadership. Attachment to the “mother’s skirt”. Solid logic and lack of feelings. Unwillingness to grow. Who will take care of me? Inflating yourself. I am Tarzan, you are Jane.

The main meanings of the card in a reversed position

Lack of power;
Emotional immaturity;
Cruelty, petty despotism;
Poor sense control
Lack of success;
Domination / submission.

The Emperor. Witchcraft Tarot by Ellen Dugan
Witchcraft Tarot by Ellen Dugan

Situation and Advice

At the moment, something is interfering with your progress. When you think about a situation, you do not take into account your feelings and are guided solely by logic. Strict adherence to principles can violate the spirit of the law. Perhaps you are in a situation in which you feel incompetent, or you feel like you are being oppressed. Perhaps you want to get away from problems. Perhaps an immature man is causing you problems. An upside-down Emperor can indicate a disclaimer: it seems like you are more comfortable with dependence on others, since in this case you do not need to make your own decisions. It’s time for you to grow up and stop living in the world of childhood. There are extremes in your behavior. Perhaps you provoke others or you yourself behave like a tyrant, your love relationship at the moment can be characterized as a relationship “dominance – submission”, “master – slave”. Perhaps even sadomasochistic elements are present in them. If your question was about work, chances are you shouldn’t expect a promotion. You are unable to cope with the manifestation of someone else’s will, power or authority.

Persons designated by the Reversed the Emperor Tarot Сard

Immature man. Coward. Tyrant. Provocateur. One who abuses his power or strength. Weak and ineffective person at work. Boring man. People prone to emotional outbursts. One who submits to parental authority. Someone who depends on others and is a “burdensome burden” for them. Mama’s son or mama’s daughter. Someone who refuses to grow. Someone who rebels for no reason.

In the Spreads

The meaning of the Arcana largely depends on the neighboring cards in the spread, but in general, the drop of the Emperor is always a big win.

In an Upright Position

This card symbolizes strength and power based on experience, and if you draw this card, you definitely have or want to have these qualities. You are a born leader, you have ambition and desire to leave your mark on this world. With knowledge of the matter, you organize all affairs and are responsible for your family and your business. You can be aggressive and stubborn, but at the same time you have the inner wisdom that balances your assessments and decisions.
Upright Emperor Tarot is almost always a good sign. He indicates stability, success, reliability, prospects, that everything is going well. This applies to all areas of life, both work and financial and personal.
Arcana can also mean a mentor or patron. Or forces that are more powerful than you, but which provide support and protection like the Father.

In a Reversed Position:

You are weak and powerless. You exhibit a tendency towards emotional immaturity and may be susceptible to flattery. You do not take responsibility for your actions and have little idea of ​​the future consequences of your actions. In addition, you may be prone to cruelty and petty despotism – these are signs of an unjust ruler.
The reversed position of the card indicates immaturity, lack of leadership qualities. Perhaps you lack knowledge or judgment, perhaps willpower and energy. Or you are afraid to take responsibility. This will lead to the collapse of plans and failures in all areas of life, both work and personal.
The reversed Emperor can also fall on a person who wants to gain power at any cost, but is not yet ready for such power. This personality creates more the semblance of its strength, but inside it does not represent anything of itself yet, or even depends on someone stronger than him.
If the question is asked about a person of a young age, an reversed Arcana may mean unwillingness to obey, denial of authority, refusal to follow the rules.

In a Personal Spread

If it falls out in the personal spread of a man, then it indicates that the person is a leader in a work collective and a head in a family, confident, strong and domineering. When a woman appears in a personal scenario, she points to a strong patron, perhaps unknown to the fortuneteller herself. In certain cases, it can indicate a strong influence of a man who is older in age and position.

In the Spreads for Different situation

In an Upright Position:

Arcana of the Emperor for a situation means good prospects and confidence in the future. It’s a good time to move from daydreaming to action, develop a plan, find a partner, move up.
It is also possible that some leader will take the initiative into his own hands. Whether you will be a pawn in his game, whether you will resist his decisions, or wisely use his power for your own purposes, depends only on you.
Also, the Emperor can indicate the help of an authoritative person with power.

The Emperor. Mirage Valley Tarot by Stephanie Pui-Mun Lo & Barbara Moore
Mirage Valley Tarot by Stephanie Pui-Mun Lo & Barbara Moore

In a Reversed Position:

The situation is directly dependent on a third party. But this person will help you or, on the contrary, will “put footboards”. You can find out by paying attention to the accompanying Arcana.
You try to run away from problems and responsibilities. Perhaps you lack discipline or self-control. You don’t want to figure out the situation yourself.
Reversed Emperor can also indicate pressure from higher people, or circumstances that prevent you from achieving the desired result.

In the Spreads for Relationship

In an Upright Position :
The patronizing attitude of a man to a woman, kind, caring, “fatherly”.
In a direct position in love, the Emperor is a very good card, meaning a strong stable union of two hearts. The main point is reliability. Perhaps there could be more romance and emotions, but as for the high-quality “foundation” – it is more than enough.
However, be careful, in some cases the Emperor in a relationship can mean the authority of a man, patriarchy. This can have both a positive (solution to family problems, a reliable shoulder) and a negative (dominance, selfishness) value of the card. Look at other cards of the spread.
If the Emperor points to a male leader, then the woman will either have to obey and entrust the partner with managing the relationship, or each of them will look for new love. The Emperor man is ready for a serious relationship and family, he knows exactly what he wants from his beloved.
If a girl makes a spread for love, the drawn Emperor in the Tarot can mean a man older than her, authoritative and with good financial wealth, a kind of patron.

In a Reversed Position:
The relationship, if the Emperor falls into your fortune-telling, is very strong. But the authority of a man in the couple is too high. In the scenario for a woman, the Emperor warns not to create an idol out of a partner, especially if the Arcana with a negative meaning is located in the neighborhood.
In contrast to the meaning of the direct Emperor in the hands of love, the inverted Arcana speaks of the lack of stability, or the pressure of partners on each other, about selfishness and disputes.
An upside down card can show a man as a bad father and an irresponsible husband.

In the Spreads for Dates

In an Upright Position:
Perhaps you are attracted to a certain person who is a little older and wiser than you.

In a Reversed Position:
Don’t limit your life to just relationships. Sooner or later, you will need an outside world. Don’t narrow your focus so much that the world will forget about you.

In the Spreads for Family

In an Upright Position:
You have great role models that show you meaningful rules for life. It’s great that you follow these rules outn of your own choosing.

In a Reversed Position:
You are suffocating under the yoke of rules and regulations.
Make sure that you convey to your teachers and parents the need for independence, they may not hear or understand you. Tell it differently.

In the Spreads for Friendship

In an Upright Position:
You demonstrate remarkable leadership abilities. Friends accept your leadership, and therefore it must be wise.

In a Reversed Position:
At the moment, you dominate your friends, or one of them dominates you. Do not be a despot, free yourself from the influence of despotic people.

In the Spreads for Money

In an Upright Position:
You are the kind of person who can make the best use of money. Congratulate yourself. This talent cannot be overestimated, and over the years it only gets stronger.
Finances for the Emperor are not the ultimate goal, but only the means to achieve it. He usually makes good money, but does not cling to money. Arcana Emperor indicates a fairly stable financial condition, he is open to cash flow and has the energy of a rich person.

In a Reversed Position:
You are implementing some kind of protest by going into debt. But this path does not lead to where you want to go. It seems that you will face poverty, your parents will be in grief, and your friends will face many inconveniences.
A financial crisis or big spending is possible. But in general, the inverted position does not greatly affect financial stability.

The Emperor. Tarot of the Elves
Tarot of the Elves

In the Spreads for Education

In an Upright Position:
ou interact well with teachers. One of them, the male, turns out to be an excellent role model for you at this point.

In a Reversed Position:
You are in conflict with teachers. Do not think that they find fault with you over trifles. Remember why you need to study. By the way, this also includes self-improvement.

In the Spreads for Career

In an Upright Position:
Business and work – go uphill, if you manage to show your outstanding qualities, perhaps a promotion. The main thing is not to be afraid of responsibility and to be ready to convince others of your own capabilities.
Arcana Emperor indicates that a person has found a good job and / or occupies a high position in society.
The Emperor personifies, first of all, leadership positions. This can be a manager, a director, a business owner, a department head, that is, a formal or informal leader – a person who is listened to.
If the question is about a specific job or a situation in the work area, then the 4 Arcana will mean stability, effective work, successful implementation of projects, career growth. You will work with reliable partners, sign profitable contracts, and expand your business.
If you have your own business, then order and organization reign in it. Clear management and competent business plan gives good potential for further development.

In a Reversed Position:
Here you cannot do without the intervention of the patron.
In the workplace, an inverted Emperor means exactly the opposite: the lack of prospects and career growth, a possible demotion. Or the card can mean a bad boss, that is putting pressure on subordinates, is selfish or cruel.
A reversed Emperor does not bode well. You should not start a new business, the ideas will not be realized. There may be a change of leadership, a financial crisis or a loss of influence. In the worst case, dismissal or demotion is possible.

In the Spreads for Health

In an Upright Position:
Health is excellent. For a sick person – a speedy recovery.

In a Reversed Position:
Health – the Emperor’s card warns: do not rely on alcohol, your liver is now in a vulnerable state. Migraines, weakness are also possible, and in males there is a risk of health problems in the reproductive part.
If the question is asked about the disease, then this card predicts a worsening of the condition. May simply report some kind of physical discomfort.

In the Perspectives

You can achieve strong and lasting results, implement plans, and build something fundamental.

Answer to Yes / No Tarot Spreads

In an Upright Position:
Definitely “Yes”.

In a Reversed Position:
“Yes”, if you do not “step on the corn” of a higher comrade, you will succeed. Cast aside doubts and prejudices, try!
But there is a possibility that “No”.

Combinations with other cards

The Hierophant: Adherence to the Rules
Four of Pentacles: control, order
Justice: gravitation towards justice and legality
Two of Wands: gaining authority

Five of Swords: bypassing the rules, breaking the law
The Empress: maternal care, vanishing prosperity
Seven of Cups: waste, messy life
Three of Swords: defiant behavior

The. Emperor. Tarot of The 78 Wizards
Tarot of The 78 Wizards

Arcana’s warning

Do not abuse power, especially if you are in charge, do not be selfish and arrogant, even if you are at the top. Consider the opinions and desires of your subordinates.

Self-Development Lesson

True leadership requires a balanced outlook on life. This does not mean that you need to impose your will on others and require them to do things your way. Your leadership should be based on a broader, holistic vision and take into account the needs of others.

Key Ideas

Don’t ignore the difficulties, face them. Don’t accept the vile situation as it is. Look for what you can change in it.

Psychological (Personality) Meaning of the Arcana

Type of person in an upright position:

Father; husband; Lord; a person with great authority and strong will; a man who is happy with the public recognition of his merits.
The card means a solid, responsible, principled person. Has the well-deserved respect of others. Appreciates precision, order and discipline. Possesses logical thinking, tries to fit everything into a scientific basis. Unwavering in important matters. Of the shortcomings, stubbornness and some conservatism can be noted. He insists where it would be possible to step back. In the spreads, it often means a man.
Arcana Emperor means personality traits inherent in an authoritative person or ruler. Namely: responsibility, organizational ability, intelligence, authority and authority, strong character. This is an influential charismatic person who makes decisions easily. He relies only on himself, he does not tend to hang the consequences of his actions on others.
If the card fell on a woman, this will also mean the above, that is, rather masculine traits and character. Such a woman is used to being the main one and managing everything on her own. She does not like and will not obey or humbly wait for the situation to change.
The Emperor in the Tarot, whether man or woman, clearly understands what he is doing and why, he is ready and willing to take responsibility for all his actions.

Type of person in an reversed position:

A man who wants to dominate and strives for power at any cost; tyrant, despot and madcap.
It means a person of weak-willed, disinterested in what is happening around, indifferent to the problems of other people. He lets others to handle the issues. In difficult life circumstances, he prefers not to solve the problem, but, merging with the crowd, go with the flow. He is inclined to flatter the powers that be, to please them, to act obsequiously.
Arcana Emperor in an inverted position indicates all the negative traits found in leaders. They can be roughly divided into two types. Abuse of power: abuse of authority, tyranny, cruelty, selfishness. Or lack of necessary traits: weak will, weak character, escape from responsibility, passive position, the personification of a “mama’s son”.

Psychological significance of the Arcana:

If your struggle with obstacles does not bring any results, you must come to terms with reality and adapt to it, but at the same time, you cannot suppress feelings and emotions. Listen to your inner voice, it will direct you in the right direction. Do not insist on the correctness of your path – it is possible that you have chosen the wrong path and the time has come to change it. Give yourself a free choice! But do not forget that there are things in the world that are much more significant than you and your “Napoleonic plans.” And remember that even if you make a mistake and go the wrong way, you can always go back and start all over again.

Final Advice of Arcana

In an Upright Position:
As a tip, the card calls for precision and diligence. Obey the rules common to all, act according to a proven plan, exclude any initiative.
Be active and proactive, do not be afraid of anything, show persistence and willpower, do not avoid responsibility. Try to look at life holistically and rationally. If necessary, adjust to the circumstances.

In a Reversed Position:
Time to get stronger. If you don’t know how, life will teach you. At the same time count on your strengths, not to take on responsibilities that you cannot pull, so as not to let others down.


The Emperor is a structural element and symbolizes our pursuit of stability, security and consistency. This is our desire for independence from the conditions of existence of Nature and our own nature, which are often unpredictable. Thus, it is in line with our desire for civilization, thanks to which we build our houses, provide heating and air conditioning in them to protect ourselves from heat, cold and dampness. We create cars and airplanes to shorten distances and make travel more comfortable, and we open schools to improve the level of education. Even the fact that much is being done too persistently does not negate for us the positive aspects that this card possesses. The Emperor combines in himself not only the desire for order, a sober mind, discipline, a sense of responsibility and pragmatism, but also their extremes – obstinacy, inertia, the desire to “improve” everything to infinity, a thirst for power and despotism.

Floral Tarot
Discover other Major Arcana:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top