Nurturing Creativity and Fertility with the Empress
The matriarchal energy of The Empress card brings messages of love, abundance, beauty, and fertility. She is the Queen of the Tarot and the expression of the Mother aspect of the Divine Feminine. Like Mother Nature, she embodies the energy of renewal and potential fulfilled.
In contrast to the purity of The High Priestess, who represents the Maiden aspect of the Divine Feminine, the Empress sits lavishly upon her throne surrounded by lush nature. She wears brightly colored flowing robes and reclines in a position of power. Her esoteric name is The Daughter of the Mighty Ones.
Associations of The Empress
The Empress is associated with Venus or Aphrodite the Goddess of love, laughter, and beauty. She is also an expression of the Ancient Egyptian Goddess Hathor, goddess of art, dance, beauty, love, and pleasure.
This card is the third card in the Major Arcana. The number 3 represents the trinity of spirit, multiplication, generation, and union. It is the power of the Magician - the mind and the High Priestess - the intuition. The Empress expresses both of these qualities.
The elemental associations of the Empress are earth and water. Or water within the Earth, like Aphrodite. Once again, we have the connections between the masculine and the feminine - the whole of creation.
The History of The Empress
Well known figures who embody this archetype include Cleopatra and Queen Elizabeth. Strong, powerful women who have impacted the world throughout the ages have a dominant energy of the Empress. In fact, in the early days of Tarot, The Empress was often pictured to reflect whoever the current Queen was at the time. In the Visconti Sforza deck, the Empress is believed to be Bianca Maria Sforza - the Queen of the Romans and the Holy Roman Empress.
Symbolism within The Empress card
The Empress is ripe with symbolism. For our analysis we will use the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, as most modern decks are based on its symbolism and format. In the Rider-Waite-Smith deck The Empress is pictured seated and relaxed on a throne surrounded by lush nature. Like the Fool, her blonde hair is a visual representation of her radiant energy.
The stream of water that begins with The High Priestess’s robes is present, symbolising the stream of consciousness that flows throughout the deck. The vibrant nature surrounding her is a symbol of fertility and abundance. The water is the subconscious mind that governs creativity. The water nourishes all of the nature around to make it fertile.
The trees behind her are growing tall and strong and act as a visual representation of growth, stability and earthly abundance. The wheat at her feet is another symbolism of growth and fertility. It speaks to necessary nourishment.
Moving from the top of the card, The Empress wears a crown of 12 stars upon her head. This headdress is thought to symbolize the 12 signs of the Zodiac and the 12 months of the year. Alternatively it is believed to represent the 12 tribes of Israel and even mirrors the twelve stars crown found on the Woman of the Apocalypse from the Book of Revelation in the Christian faith. The headdress is also another god to Venus - the morning and the evening star - and the birth of nature and all the cosmos.
In her hands, The Empress holds a scepter, a symbol of masculinity and power. It indicates The Empress’s dominion over the world and nature, and is the symbol of governance which has its roots in ancient Mesopotamia.
The robes of The Empress resemble maternity robes, again symbolizing fertility. Their white color is the symbol of purity. The robe is printed with Pomegranates, a symbol of Persephone who was the Empress of the Underworld. Once again, they also symbolize fertility.
The Shield at her feet pictures the unmistakable symbol of Venus. It is heart shaped to represent love, compassion, and nurturing while still acting as a means of protection and defense - balance of a mother's compassion, and protection. In the Golden Dawn school of thought the symbol of Venus speaks to unity as well as to the Goddess herself.
What does it mean when The Empress card is pulled?
When the Empress card comes up in a reading you are most likely being asked to embrace your creativity and to celebrate the beauty of life. She is an invitation to really dive into pleasure and experience your pleasure more fully. Whatever brings you joy - do more of that!
This card also asks you to begin to plant seeds in order to create the life you want to live. Respect the earth, and yourself, because you are part of the earth. Like The Empress, allow yourself to embrace feminine power and balance your nurturing intuitive side along with your strength. Take care of yourself and the people around you.
When out of balance The Empress can be a warning of over-indulgence and even co-dependence. Try not to be over protective or overbearing and be careful not to pick your fruits until they’re fully ripe. Remember that you cannot pour from an empty cup and ensure that you are replenishing yourself regularly.