Generally speaking, the Emperor card symbolises leadership, order and control. The Emperor may be represented as a father, administrator, disciplinarian or authority figure.
Back in the day, when I was growing up in a rural Australian country town, an Emperor was one of those powerful figures who, along with Kings and Queens and other royal persons, simply seemed like characters from faraway lands. They featured prominently in the books that I borrowed from our small, but reasonably stocked, municipal library and I cannot deny that I was fascinated by their authority and power.
It goes without saying that living in a country where the National Anthem was about a swagman who waltzed about grabbing jumbucks and who was pursued by troopers, I had no real up close experience with those Emperors who I read about, who were reputed to rule over entire groups of nations, who were kings of the world.
Now, in 2020, when I see the Emperor in the Tarot of the Sweet Twilight, I don’t think of Charlemagne, Alexander 11 of Russia, Han Wudi or the Holy Emperor of Rome. Instead I immediately think of dubious Merchant Bankers and scoundrels heading massive Corporate organisations, whose jobs are bigger than my mind can embrace, who, quite literally, rule over and pillage nations.
While I cannot relate to the traditional concept of an Emperor being someone to turn to for advice I did find myself, quite inexplicably, tearing up when I decided to wander on a side path and watch Slim Dusty singing Waltzing Matilda (some years ago I wrote about Waltzing Matilda) and Eric Bogle playing The Band Played Waltzing Matilda.
In my mind Slim was an Emperor in his field – a gentle man who quite literally ruled over Australian country music.
But I digress amid a mix of nostalgia, sentimentality and anger about the path traditional Emperors have led us down! This page is supposed to be about the Emperor in the Tarot of the Sweet Twilight.
As I see the Emperor approaching I nudge the Fool and point to the Meerkat standing behind him, taking us in.
The Meerkat is a small carnivoran that belongs to the mongoose family. This interesting little animal lives in the South African Kalahari Desert and cannot be found anywhere else in the world. They aren’t hefty creatures, weighing just over two pounds at adulthood, yet even for their small, seemingly vulnerable size, they are well-adapted to the harsh environments they inhabit. So, Meerkats are immediate symbols for survival and adaptability.
Meerkats are very attentive creatures who are very aware of their surroundings. They are always on the look out for potential threats and predators, which, given that they have a lot of enemies, is not surprising. Meerkats depend entirely on their intelligence to survive, which is why they need to be quick thinking and quick acting in all life situations. As totems they represent intelligence, quick wit, social nature and group energy.
There is some intense competition within the Meerkat group. There is one male who is the leader when it comes to breeding. The male Meerkat does its best to deter any other male in the pack from mating; in so doing, the lead male Meerkat makes for a good representation of the Sacred Masculine regarding power and authority. With a Matriarch female Meerkat and a single Male Meerkat in the leadership positions of the pack, the creatures demonstrate the balance between Yin and Yang Energies.
Invariably the Fool, being a gullible Fool, dismisses the Meerkat and insists that we talk to the human. Me! I’m more interested in the stern figure who is watching us so intently.
The man in the foreground is just a man, wearing a crown to show his status and dressed to reveal his duality, his right to claim the title of Emperor and his connection to Aries. As the first sign in the zodiac, the presence of Aries always marks the beginning of something energetic and turbulent. Aries people are continuously looking for dynamic, speed and competition, always being the first in everything – from work to social gatherings. Thanks to its ruling planet Mars and the fact it belongs to the element of Fire (just like Leo and Sagittarius), Aries is one of the most active zodiac signs. It is in their nature to take action, sometimes before they think about it well.
This figure exudes self confidence. He knows who he is and isn’t afraid to show himself. The orb in his right hand represents the world, or more specifically his role as the ruler of people while the red half of his jacket and the vibrant daylight (contrasting Twilight time) also supports the theme of Fire.
Aries is also ruled by Mars, the red planet. The colour red inspires initiative and taking action and the powerful, testing landscape in the background remind us of the unyielding nature of Aries.
Despite all the signs of this man being an Emperor in some incantation, I don’t trust this ostentatious individual who may have found his outfit in a Charity store. He looks decidedly like one of those finance people who run get rich seminars online, would rob their grandmothers of their life savings and tuck their ill gotten gains away in some tax haven.
By contrast I do trust the Meerkat, who holds such power and authority over his clan and has a strong sense of community, to be able to advise us about our passage through this harsh, desert like landscape.
The Meerkat assures us that we can move safely through his territory, that no harm will come to us here and that it is worth meeting with the Hierophant who lives just over the way.
- Look under a filter and listen to what your gut tells you about a particular individual.
- Draw around your hand. Adapt Michelle Morgans idea! Go ballistic and paint those fingers and make a list of the names of people who you trust. Identify some of their characteristics which make them so trustworthy.
- Using your logical, rational brain, establish a round table of advisors, comprised of living or dead. Who is seated at your table?
- Check out your animal decks and examine the qualities of the animals artists choose to be their Emperor. In the Animal Totem Deck the Emperor is a powerful gorilla. Who would you choose?