The Father Figure. The Alpha Male. The Emperor.

The Patriarch. Ooo yes. I’m sure that word conjures up a whole bunch of different feelings inside you – not all of them positive. The Emperor Card in the tarot deck is no different. Say hello to the ultimate father figure: the head of this patriarchal society we all live in. He sits on his throne, decked out in red with a stern expression on his face. He’s not a young man because it takes a certain amount of life experience to achieve what he has achieved. 

The Emperor Card has come up loads of times in the readings I’ve done the past couple of days. My gut instinct is to sigh and think, ‘Oh, this guy again’. I’m no stranger to the masculine archetype the Emperor card exemplifies.

At his best, he is the provider and protector. People respect him for he leads with great wisdom that comes from knowledge and experience. Although he is a head over heart type of person – he understands the emotions of men well enough to take them into consideration when making decisions. He is someone who commands respect through mutual understanding whilst always staying at the top of his game. 

In his right hand, he has a strong grip on the ankh: representing his dominion over the empire he’s created. But what caught my attention in the last reading I did was the orb that’s resting in his left hand. His hold on the orb is firm but relaxed. The tenderness with which he holds the orb surprised me. And then it hit me. The orb represents his world – the reason why he works as hard as he does.

And why does he do it? For his wife and kids, of course. They are his world.

The Emperor Reversed 

Unfortunately, this is not always the case with this archetype. At his worst, he is an insecure guy always searching for his next power fix. He is abusive towards women. He doesn’t have time for his kids. He doesn’t care about them – but he cares that his business partners see him as a family man. That’s why he got married and had kids in the first place. His family is nothing but an extension of his overinflated ego. If they do something that makes him look bad – they better watch out. 

He always has to be top dog. His need to ‘take charge’ means he does whatever he wants and expects people to go along with it. My way or highway, baby. He is detached from his emotions and doesn’t realise the role they play in others so he underestimates them – much to his own detriment.

He sees others as pawns in a chess game which he has every intention of winning. He is possessive, domineering and authoritative. The empire he builds always eventually crumbles because it is built on fear.

The Emperor is the best and worst of all archetypes in the tarot deck. I’ve personally known A LOT of men who exemplify this archetype. Some of them are indescribably terrible – so let’s not waste too much energy talking about them.

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HOWEVER 

If you know someone who emulates the positive traits of this archetype – you know you are one lucky person. He leads by example. He takes care of his people – both at work and at home. He is the traditional provider and protector. You can count on him. Rely on him. His word is his bond. He’s always there when you need him. He never lets you down. He understands that with great power comes great responsibility. 

He is the patriarch. 

Author: Dipa

Tarot Tales from Japan

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