Today’s card is the Emperor from the Manga Tarot
I’ve always had a slightly touchy relationship with The Emperor. I don’t love patriarchal undertones that the card always seems to be associated with in the traditional RWS interpretations. It’s really mostly just that I’m pushing back against the archetypal gendered stereotypes. I think the first time I felt really good about the Emperor card was when I found my matron goddess, Athena, on the Emperor card in the Universal Goddess deck.
The Emperor stands for control, structure, fatherhood, and authority. It’s my ‘question authority’ mindset that tends to block my working with the card. What it was important for me to learn, is that the Emperor card doesn’t have to mean submitting to male control. It doesn’t even mean a man at all necessarily. It’s just talking about energies that were typically associated with men.
The authority in this card doesn’t have to be a toxic corrupt authority. In order for me to work with this card I had to recognize that authority isn’t a bad thing. Authority can be any respected source that you trust.
That said, this is one Emperor card that I really like. Although it depicts someone outwardly presenting as male, it doesn’t have any of that energy of autocratic dictatorship. This Emperor actually appears to be consciously rejecting that kind of leadership. You see the cracked and broken throne with a discarded crown behind him. He sits on the ground instead, meditating in a traditionally styled samurai suit of armor. The figure of this Emperor does represent authority. He is a warrior, and seated in front of the throne gives the implication that he is a leader. Maybe he defeated the corrupt ruler who used to occupy that seat, or maybe he was the ruler and he has come to understand that an iron fist isn’t the way to rule.
He also represents structure here. He is meditating, following perhaps a spiritual path or simply taking time to improve himself. He is recognizing the importance of time for quiet reflection and introspection. This Emperor isn’t raging around his throne room screaming at the court. When he speaks his words are soft and well considered. He has earned the respect of his peers through his actions and his philosophies.
You can see this Emperor representing ‘fatherhood’ here as well. Taking the gender out of the equation just leaves protection of his family/clan/people and safeguarding them.
He gives the impression of a calm well reasoned wisdom. You’d feel good asking his counsel and taking his advice. When this Emperor appears in your spread you can be sure that he’s carefully considered what to do and you know you can trust the authority he represents.