The next step on our journey to awakening is The Emperor. He is the Father and embodies the principles of authority, power, order and reason. This is card number 4 which stands for organisation, order and laws.
The Emperor is the consort of The Empress and also represents creation, but his is the creation of the will, not feelings. He signifies the use of power rather than love.
The Emperor represents the Father archetype and is related to the distant sky gods of the patriarchy. He holds a sceptre (which looks suspiciously like an ankh), the symbol of his masculine potency and the energy he uses to build his empire. In his other hand is a golden orb which represents his rational understanding of the laws of the physical world. It is his rationality which allows him to organise the world and make the laws and rules by which others must live.
The Emperor imposes his will to create order out of chaos, but behind the throne can be seen a barren landscape. This signifies the danger of this approach. In a purely masculine world based on power without love, nothing can grow. The sterility of the Emperor must be balanced by the fecundity of the Empress. Perhaps this is why he holds an ankh sceptre – the ankh combines the masculine tau cross with the feminine hoop or circle.
This stage of the journey is about mastering the physical world using the mind. To achieve freedom the hero must battle the adversities of life using discipline and willpower. But this is just physical mastery, not spiritual – hence the barren landscape on the card. The Emperor has mastered his world but not himself. His logic and rationality are only based on what he can know with his senses – the ultimate materialist. Restricted to what he can figure out based on what he can touch, the hero is out of his depth with anything more subtle or complex. He has a long way to travel.
Keywords for The Emperor:
- Rational thought
- Head over Heart
Next step on the journey to awakening: The Hierophant