III - The Empress
The Empress is a rich card that illustrates the power and plenty that can spring from wholehearted engagement with the world. Think what can be born out of passion either literally – pregnancy & birth – or figuratively – creative projects, art, etc.
She represents the creative power of the feminine. Since we’re dealing with the archetypal here, leave the baggage of the femininity/masculinity duality by the wayside (what a relief.) Rather than using the terms to call up gender as a social construct, tarot uses them to name and express characteristics that can be applied to any gender. As a result, the qualities of The Empress can apply to any person.
The card depicts a scene that’s both luxurious and pastoral. The empress lounges confidently on a pile of cushions, a symbol of Venus inscribed on a heart at her feet. Clearly a person of power, she holds a scepter in one hand and wears a crown of stars on her head. Her face appears relaxed and welcoming. She has none of the stern energy of The Emperor, and yet she does not seem like someone weak or easily swayed.
Her setting, too, is unique. Her throne is in the middle of a field of golden wheat with a lush forest behind her and a stream winding downhill to her left. She represents the power that we can draw from being close to nature. The Empress does not need a grand castle to symbolize her power. By placing herself amongst nature, she symbolizes a worldview where we are a part of the world and supported by it. This is complementary to Strength, where a woman is gently coaxing a lion. The Empress represents a gentle power that works in conjunction with nature instead of against it.
Because of this, The Empress is a decidedly sensual card. She enjoys life and gains strength and wisdom from pleasure. Appreciating beauty in all forms comes naturally to her and she encourages us to use our senses to engage with the world. Her appearance in readings tells us to look up and see, touch, taste, feel, and hear what’s around us. Enjoy a fine meal, use our bodies, see and create beautiful art, listen to music or birdsongs. These aren’t distractions, but pleasures that can center us and provide us with inspiration.
At her most literal, The Empress refers to motherhood, children, and pregnancy. She is a divine mother who nurtures life. As such, she can apply to a person’s role as a mother or their mothering qualities. And to go beyond, she also applies to the ways we mother ourselves, our passions, our careers, and our friendships.
Abundance, fertility, creativity, sensuality, confidence, encouragement, cultivation, nourishment, wildness, connection to nature, calm control, sense of home, nesting, sexuality, romance, community, coming into one’s own, feeling rooted, “femininity,” beauty, motherhood
A passionate romance, pregnancy, buying a home, decorating one’s living space/nesting, hosting community gatherings and bringing people together, creating a welcoming space for others, getting a new pet, gardening, “birthing” a creative project, getting in touch with nature, caring for oneself, enjoying sensuality (food, sex, finer things, etc.), practicing self-care, enjoying life’s pleasures
Warm, nurturing, powerful, present, productive, self-confident, charismatic, untamed, comfortable, in control, sexually confident, assertive, healthy boundaries, ability to delegate, sense of humor, love of life, natural host/hostess
Hot temper, overly luxurious, unadventurous, potential for stagnation, caught up in lives of others, potential for resentment