Tarot Saturday 3: The Emperor & The Hierophant

Mark Beard, Two Men in White Shirts (Figurative Oil Painting in Charcoal Grey & Blue Tones)

Hey crew, in today’s post we continue to study the meanings of the Major Arcana cards during this ‘Tarot Saturday’ series 🙂 by focusing on its leading men. Below is a compilation of the notes I made while perusing the booklets of my 13 tarot decks <3. Hope they can help inspire your divination practice!

The Emperor (linked to Aries)

The Emperor card in the classical Ryder-Waite Tarot, illustrated by Pamela Colman-Smith
  • Just like the Empress, he embodies all the kings of the suits (The King of Wands, Cups, Coins and Swords). This middle-aged man has accumulated enough experience to have confidence in himself and in his decisions and his appearance in a tarot spread means that you can exercise mental control over your emotions in order to become a great leader.
  • The Emperor denotes a sense of responsibility, the father energy, animus, a traveler, a conquering adventurer and an investigator, who combines mercy with willfulness. This is the card of personal power, because it makes you realise that you must love others in order to be able to efficiently lead them, you need to be liked by the masses of people in order to be supported by them.
  • A strong male figure, ambitious and accomplished, dominating everything that surrounds him. He is pleased with his achievements but is also eager to set out on new conquests, so he also embodies good planning skills. Symbolically this means that your are building your empire by attaining material equilibrium. As others look up to you, you can command them – a male role-model, a good masculine example, who is able to blend strength with goodness.
  • The incarnation of masculine patriarchal power. Aim high and accept the help of an important and protective person. He is the Sun king, he who hunts and tames any wild beasts of the mind. This card denotes success over your lower urges, and mastery of the Ego – feeling sovereign and in control of yourself.
  • Could also describe a mature man who values what he already has, and is concerned with the wealth and wellbeing of his family, representing stability (since he is number 4) and an indomitable spirit. A sign that success comes in time, and old age can bring a lot of rewards. Similar to Saint George slaying the Dragon (in the Chinese tarot, The Emperor has dragon symbols around him, and in the Sun and Moon Tarot he has a shield with 2 Phoenixes on him, which represent the Solar version of the God Mars).
  • An indication that you need to follow the rules and receive the good advice of those around you. Dealings with institutions such as banks, governments or schools are highlighted at this time. The fate of the land is this man’s fate; he is the symbol of building, of wise expansion, of management of resources (from all 4 suits), and of healthy boundaries and endurance.
  • The Emperor is (oddly) depicted as the Mother in the Gaia Tarot, and this creative switch represents control, support and encouraging the development of her children’s gifts and talents.
  • In the order of the Major Arcan, the Emperor comes after the Empress which means that he takes all that abundant content she provides and organizes it, imposing laws and carefully managing her luscious abundance.

Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.

Jack Welch
A 4-minute video I created describing this card my YT channel ‘The Spiritual Social’

The Hierophant (linked to Taurus)

The Hierophant card in the classical Ryder-Waite Tarot, illustrated by Pamela Colman-Smith
  • The word ‘hierophant’ means ‘revealer of the sacred’. This describes an Initiator, a Priest, a Spiritual Teacher. He learns and guides others to higher knowledge, providing instruction, inspiration and information. In some decks, he appears as a woman, an Abbess (in the Mary-El and the Good Tarot). In the Mary-El, the Abbess represents Babylon, the Gate of Gods and the Mother who suckles her children to spiritual maturity. This card means that the acquisition of sacred knowledge brings you closer to Spirit. It follows after the Emperor, and shows the spiritual evolution of the human Spirit after the management of material resources has been mastered.
  • A sign of praying for someone else, mercy and conformity. The Priest governs over matchmaking, he has a lot of wisdom but not the same power that the Emperor has. He represents humility and faith, and how we combine understanding with wisdom. In the Chinese Tarot he is known as the Heavenly Master, and represents the first great teacher of Taoism, a healing Magician who provides protection from misfortune.
  • This energy asks you to analyze your relationship to rules and structure and how you might follow existing traditions. It shows that you need to make your own rules instead of blindly giving in to cultural or religious or gender-based traditions. You are reminded that rituals matter now and exchanging vows is favoured. Also, it’s important to understand that setting rules creates the safety which allows things to flourish.
  • The Hierophant represents number 5 which is indicative of change. Develop your inner guidance, fine-tune it and share it with others. You hold the keys to your own becoming, by committing to a daily spiritual practice in order to enact long-lasting change.
  • The Hierophant portends that we will experience the boundaries of ourselves through a crisis or a challenge. He represents benevolence, spiritual leadership, fate and compassion. He walks with you during your dark night of the soul and helps you tune into yourself. At the end of your inner journey he baptizes you and you are reborn; you transcended the good-evil duality and reconciled the Black and White horses of Plato’s Chariot (from his ‘Dialogue to Phaedrus’) and you are now setting the emotional grounds for Union (the Lovers card follows after this card). Connect to someone else to broaden your consciousness.
  • Look beyond conventions to find the truth. This Priest is a bridge, a mediator between what is above and below, what is and what will be. You are encouraged to rely on ancestral knowledge to bring an ideal into practice. But act prudently because power corrupts, as you are blending the sacred with the profane.
  • In the Gaia Tarot, the Hierophant is associated with The Father (fulfil your obligations but allow others their autonomy; reflect on what have your parents have taught you).

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear but the triumph over it. The brave man is not the one who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.

Nelson Mandela
A 4-minute video I created describing this card my YT channel ‘The Spiritual Social’

Now, you might have noticed that I did not include the meanings of reverse cards. This is a conscious choise I made, based on my personal understanding of tarot reversals as simply blocked energy. In my view, each of the 78 tarot cards which comprise both the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana has a significant meaning, and when the card is reversed I do not see this as gaining a different meaning, but rather it is a sign that the energy of the card is temporarily blocked. As tarot readers, I believe we can understand and manipulate energy, and therefore we are able to unblock it and help those who seek our spiritual support.

With universal love,

Lexi ❤

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Photo by Shunsuke Ono on Unsplash

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