- English: Emperor
- French: Empereur
- Italian: Imperatore
- Letter: ‘Dālet ד
- Astro: Cancer (Thierens), Jupiter (Papus)
The Emperor, by imputation the spouse of the former. He is occasionally represented as wearing, in addition to his personal insignia, the stars or ribbons of some order of chivalry. I mention this to shew that the cards are a medley of old and new emblems. Those who insist upon the evidence of the one may deal, if they can, with the other. No effectual argument for the antiquity of a particular design can be drawn from the fact that it incorporates old material; but there is also none which can be based on sporadic novelties, the intervention of which may signify only the unintelligent hand of an editor or of a late draughtsman.
Behind the Veil¶
He has a form of the Crux ansata for his sceptre and a globe in his left hand. He is a crowned monarch—commanding, stately, seated on a throne, the arms of which axe fronted by rams’ heads. He is executive and realization, the power of this world, here clothed with the highest of its natural attributes. He is occasionally represented as seated on a cubic stone, which, however, confuses some of the issues. He is the virile power, to which the Empress responds, and in this sense is he who seeks to remove the Veil of Isis; yet she remains virgo intacta.
It should be understood that this card and that of the Empress do not precisely represent the condition of married life, though this state is implied. On the surface, as I have indicated, they stand for mundane royalty, uplifted on the seats of the mighty; but above this there is the suggestion of another presence. They signify also—and the male figure especially—the higher kingship, occupying the intellectual throne. Hereof is the lordship of thought rather than of the animal world. Both personalities, after their own manner, are “full of strange experience,” but theirs is not consciously the wisdom which draws from a higher world. The Emperor has been described as
- (a) will in its embodied form, but this is only one of its applications, and
- (b) as an expression of virtualities contained in the Absolute Being—but this is fantasy.
Stability, power, protection, realization; a great person; aid, reason, conviction; also authority and will.
Benevolence, compassion, credit; also confusion to enemies, obstruction, immaturity.
After I learned the first three numbers I was given to understand the Great Law of Four—the alpha and omega of all.
I saw the Emperor on a lofty stone throne, ornamented by four rams’ heads. On his forehead shone a golden helmet. His white beard fell over a purple mantle. In one hand he held a sphere, the symbol of his possession, and in the other, a sceptre in the form of an Egyptian cross—the sign of his power over birth.
“I am The Great Law,” the Emperor said. “I am the name of God. The four letters of his name are in me and I am in all.”
“I am in the four principles. I am in the four elements. I am in the four seasons. I am in the four cardinal points. I am in the four signs of the Tarot.”
“I am the beginning; I am action; I am completion; I am the result.”
“For him who knows how to see me there are no mysteries on earth.”
“I am the great Pentacle.”
“As the earth encloses in itself fire, water and air; as the fourth letter of the Name encloses in itself the first three and becomes itself the first, so my sceptre encloses the complete triangle and bears in itself the seed of a new triangle.”
“I am the Logos in the full aspect and the beginning of a new Logos.”
And while the Emperor spoke, his helmet shone brighter and brighter, and his golden armour gleamed beneath his mantle. I could not bear his glory and I lowered my eyes.
When I tried to lift them again a vivid light of radiant fire was before me, and I prostrated myself and made obeisance to the Fiery Word.
There is much more mystery buried in every symbol than words spoken can tell. Superficial consideration might make astrologers wonder at this image, which assimilates worldly power with the sign Cancer instead of with Leo, to which they are accustomed. Still there remains this to be taken into account, that originally ‘emperors’ got their power from the people,—China, Rome—long before they began to claim God as their private protector against eventual aggression from outside. The people are ruled by the sign of Cancer, says the astrologer. And thus originally the chosen emperor accepted vox populi as vox Dei. This chosen dignitary was nothing of a tyrant, originally, nor did he have anything to do with rulership or warfare: he was simply the highest and most pure expression of the soul of the people or nation. In China sometimes a poor but extremely virtuous old man without any other antecedents was elected to be emperor. All later usurpations of power and succession were deviations from the old and pure institution. The present position of the president in a republic comes very near to that of the original emperor.
The sign of the soul indeed is … Cancer. At the same time this is the sign of the breast (P.) and of the womb, as W. translates this passage about the card, which P. says is connected with the Hebrew letter Daleth. In the older pictures we see the effort to let the man make a figure 4 or something like the symbol for Jupiter with his crossed legs. There may be some meaning in it, but this seems futile with regard to the general significance of the Emperor as the representative of the past, of memory, tradition in the people and in family life, dharma and the real motives of the soul in the background of life, which actually rule life. It relates ..to every inner power of the soul from which outer activity (karma) will arise.
In different editions of the cards we find different sorts of sceptres in the hand of the Emperor. In some there appears also an eagle. We prefer the sceptre which Mr. W. puts into his hands: the crux ansata, symbol of the might of inner life, which rules matter. The planet Jupiter has only to do with this card, in so far as it is exalted in the sign Cancer, which means, that virtually hopes and expectations as well as ideals for the future take their origin in the deep-rooted attachments of the soul, which themselves are the expression of dharma or cosmic memory.
Still in a personal way the Emperor indicates the father of the querent, because it is from his father that his soul derives its elements. Compare in the horoscope the IVth house. Therefore this seemingly very feminine sign was symbolised by a male figure, while the seemingly male messenger was represented by a woman. The Empress indicates the spiritual parentage, the Emperor the physical one. The latter finds its counterpart (physical mother) in the Xth house, as is well known.
Some authors say this card means ‘realisation.’ That is correct so far as this word means an inner realising of the significance of outer facts: the gathering of the harvest of experience, which will become the store of memory.
He is crowned (and leaning against a throne, his legs form a cross, and beside him, beneath his left hand, is a shield blazoned with an eagle). In his right hand he bears a sceptre similar to that of the Empress. His body and arms form a triangle, of which his head is the apex, so that the whole figure represents a triangle above a cross. He represents Realisation.
Realisation, Effect, Development.
Stoppage, Check, Immature, Unripe.
4th Hebrew letter (Daleth ד)
The hieroglyphic meaning of Daleth is the womb. It suggests the idea of an object giving plentiful nourishment, the source of future growth. The child is the living link, which in its neutrality reunites the opposition of the sexes; the Daleth therefore denotes abundance springing from division.
Like the 1, it is a sign of active creation; but this creation is the result of previous actions easily determinable, whilst the origin of the Unity is inaccessible to human conceptions. The Daleth expresses a creation made by a created being. according to divine laws.
The Daleth should be the image of the active vivifying principle of the Universe, Jupiter, the reflex of the Primal cause
This symbol should express in the active form all that the preceding card expressed in the passive.
A man seated in profile.
- The man indicates the active; his position, however, shows that this activity is engendered by a superior term. The 1st arcanum, the Juggler, the active absolute, was represented standing, looking to the front; the 4th arcanum, active relative, is seated in profile.
This man holds in his right hand the sceptre, the symbol of generation or of Venus ♀.
- The sceptre is held in the right hand, to indicate the active influence, which the vivifying principle exercises in nature, by opposition to the formative principle (arc. 3).
The man is bearded and wears a helmet with twelve points (six on each side). He is seated upon a cubic stone, which bears the figure of an eagle.
The helmet indicates the rule of the Divine Will in the Universe, and its universal action in the creation of Life (eagle). The position upon the cubic stone indicates realization in all the worlds.
- (1st) Realization of the Divine Word by the creation.
- (2nd) Realization of the ideas of the Being shared by the quadruple work of
- (3rd) Realization of the actions conceived by the Will.
The man’s legs are crossed, his body forms a triangle .
- Domination of the Spirit over Matter.
Considered more attentively, the figure reproduces the symbol of Jupiter ♃, represented by the fourth card of the Tarot.
The fourth card of the Tarot corresponds to the second He, and therefore bears two, very distinct aspects.
It first expresses a term of transition uniting the first series (active and passive forces, the link between the two forces) to the following series; the passage from one world to the other.
But it also represents this term of transition, itself becoming the first term in the following series. As the following series taken as a whole is negative relatively to the first, the fourth symbol represents the active influence of the first series 1, 2, 3, in the second series 4, 5, 6.
The 4 therefore expresses the reflections of the first card in all its details. It acts towards the first series exactly as the second card acted towards the first.
This interprets its meaning—
- In the Divine. Reflex of God the Father—
- THE WILL
- In the Human. Reflex of Adam—
- THE POWER.
- In the Natural. Reflex of Natura naturans—
- THE UNIVERSAL CREATIVE FLUID.
- The soul of the Universe.