Seated on her throne, The Empress gazes back at the viewer. In her right hand she holds a staff topped with an orb. Golden grains grow in the foreground, in the background is a forest with a river flowing through it. Twelve stars adorn her crown and her throne is covered in plush, red cushions. Her clothes are decorated with salamanders. At the base of her thrown is a tablet with the symbol of Venus engraved upon it.
After our passage through the mysteries hinted at by the High Priestess, we find The Empress. She is very much mother earth, a kind and loving figure. Within the card are the four elements common throughout much of the pagan religions;
Fire – represented by the salamanders on her clothing and the red cushions
Air – represented by the sky
Earth – represented by the forest and the crops growing in the foreground
The scene is one of plenty. There is an abundance of all the riches of nature at the command of The Empress. She wants for nothing. Patient, kind, motherly and understanding, her pose does not threaten those approaching her but welcomes all. At the same time, The Empress is confident in her position and sits comfortably upon her throne.
The Empress is the archetype of the feminine. She is the female principle in creation and brings forth life. She is the realisation of the first and second spheres on the Tree of Life, the final point in the triangle that solidifies creation. Opposed to the feminine is the male and that is hinted at in the wand or staff she holds – the globe at the top a possible symbol of the sun. Holding the globe over the symbol of Venus at her feet reminds us that ‘as above, so below!‘
Coming after the High Priestess, The Empress reminds us that the secrets of life are all around us. They are to be found in nature, in our lives, that what we experience now can unlock the deepest mysteries. We are able to connect with the hidden world should we wish – it is all around us and we are part of it but we need to attune ourselves to it.
In readings, The Empress can signify a time to remember that our work may take time to come to fruition. Nature sometimes moves imperceptibly. We may not see the seedling break out and begin its journey up through the earth to the sunshine but grow it does. Our current work may take time to bear fruit and we should be patient for our rewards.
The Empress can also be a sign of fertility. Our projects will come good, our new relationship will last, our ideas will become a reality or there may be births. In other decks, The Empress is often depicted pregnant. With its position so early in the Tarot, this hints again that patience is required for things to come about and our realisation that mother earth lies behind the High Priestess is only the beginning of our journey.
The symbol of Venus can also relate to our love of beauty, art and fine things. We should take time to appreciate that which is around us or we may be about to release a creative streak within us. Listen to the inner voice or look for inspiration in the beautiful things that surround you.
The crown of 12 stars symbolises the Zodiac and hints that Mother Earth’s rule extends far beyond just this earth, that there is further than this earth to travel. As a symbol of the universe in a complete sense, the 12 starts remind us that our journey has much further to go.
The Empress reversed suggests that we are ignoring our inner voices and our connection to the earth. We may be unaware of the potency of natural forces. Our focus may be on material wealth in life and The Empress reversed reminds us that there is so much more to life than material wealth.
We may be short tempered, angry, impatient and lack understanding. When The Empress appears reversed, it is time for us to consider how we are behaving. We may be exhibiting the qualities that are the inverse to those we would expect from a mother.
Our creative steak may be temporarily at a halt. Instead of things coming to fruition we are met with delays and frustrations. In time, all these things will fade and we will see the completion of our goals so perhaps it is time that we should relax and appreciate what we have rather than coveting that which we do not.