The Emperor Tarot Card Meaning - Upright, Reversed & More

The emperor upright

The Emperor At A Glance

Keywords: Quick action, structure, routine, maintenance, paternal care, strength, divine masculine, self-discipline, too rigid, cold, emotionally shut down
Season: Summer
Zodiac/Planet: Aries

The Emperor Tarot Card Description

The Emperor is the fifth card within the major arcana and is numbered as 4. In the RWS (Rider Waite Smith) system of tarot which most modern day tarot cards are based on The Emperor card depicts a regal king sitting upon a throne built of stone and carved with the head of at least 4 rams, the symbol of strength.

His crown and septa are both gold and he is dressed very decadently suggesting his riches have been earned by his steadfast determination. The throne is sturdy and shows what a life time of structure and routine can achieve.

Under the beautiful clothing of The Emperor we can see his armor showing he is not about the pomp and ceremony of royalty because he is willing to fight and die to protect his empire.

The Emperor Upright Meaning

When The Emperor card is in its upright position (the art work is right side up) it can mean that now is the time to dig our heels in and stick to the course.

We know the plan for our specific goals and we just need to practice self-discipline in order to bring that plan into reality. This card says we must lean into our divine masculine (both masculine and feminine exist within each of us regardless of our gender.)

The masculine traits within us look like determination, sticking to a routine adding efficient action to our plans. We must be strong like The Emperor and stubborn like the rams that are carved into his throne.

“Your habits will determine your future.” - Jack Canfield

The Emperor Reversed Meaning

The emperor reversed

If The Emperor card appears reversed (the artwork is upside down) then it has a slightly different meaning. The Emperor card when reversed is still about structure and routine but unfortunately it refers to the dark side of routine: unrelenting control and abusing the power and privileges we may have. There is a thin line between structure and excessive control.

This card being reversed suggests that we are on the excessive side of this line. Sometimes we control situations/ourselves out of fear and feel like we can remedy the problem with more and more structure but this ultimately makes us feel even worse. We need to let go and completely release control.

“A rigid mind is very sure but often wrong. A flexible mind is generally unsure but often right.” - Vanda Scaravelli

The Emperor: Yes or No

The Emperor is a no card. Or more accurately a ‘not yet’ card. It says that we need to prepare more before we can say yes and take this on. We must ensure our lifestyle and surroundings are completely in order. Our life must have adequate routine and structure in place before we can say yes.

If we analyze our life and see it is in order and we have the structure available to support this new venture then we can go ahead and say yes but only after this check has been done thoroughly. It is the same whether upright or reversed.

Let’s Break Down The Emperor In Our Lives

How The Emperor card applies to our lives and specifically within the different areas of our life.

The Emperor In Love

If the reader has asked a question about romantic or platonic love The Emperor card can suggest a presence of a person, male or female with a masculine energy may be coming into our lives soon.

They may show us a way out of a situation which we never would have thought of on our own. It can also mean we must lean on the strong and patient traits of The Emperor at this time, to protect others and ourselves.

Reversed it can mean we are preventing those we love getting close to us because we are aiming to control the date/meet up/relationship too much and we are actually sapping all the fun out of it and making it harder for people to show their love to us. We must learn to trust that others are capable and will be there for us if we need to lean on them for a while.

The Emperor With Money

If The Emperor card appears when a question about money has been asked it is saying now is not the time for dallying. We have a lot to do and there’s no time like the present to sit up and get on with it.

This card says there is great money and opportunity to be made but we won’t get it by changing our mind over and over again. We must stay the course and stick to the plan. Consistency of both plan and action will be very rewarding for us.

Reversed in money this card means we have been out of control with our spending and it’s leading us to have very little spare cash at the end of the month. It’s time to make a budget.

But we don’t need to make this budget be harsh, we can add some fun things in there too. If we budget for a few day trips or small treats then we can make sure we actually have the cash to do them. So even though we have a tight plan for our cash it’s more freeing because we are in control of it.

The Emperor At Work

When asking a question about a situation at work or about our careers The Emperor card can suggest we need to develop a plan or routine to chip away at this. Structure and routine may sound a little boring but by creating this we give ourselves a space for all the things we want to do and a chance to manifest our goals within those allotted times we have given. Structure and routine can actually be very freeing.

Reversed means we have been procrastinating at work or with our goals and feel unable to move forward. We may need to try another method instead of stubbornly plowing head first.

This card reversed says we have hit an immovable object, but we are human, not an irresistible force and we shouldn’t want to be because that scenario means nothing happens and we struggle for an eternity without moving forward (thanks for the heads up science.) Let’s put stubbornness to one side and use our ol’ big brains instead.

The Emperor With Others

If we are asking about our external world and we get The Emperor card it means we cannot control those around us or the world. This can make us feel unsafe. At this time it’s important to remember we are only responsible for our own actions. As long as we have tried our best then we can rest at night guilt free.

We must not allow others to attempt to blame us for their issues and problems. Unless we are literally at fault we have nothing to apologize for. We must have strength and stick to our own beliefs.

Reversed can mean someone close to us is trying to control us. We need to break out of this anyway possible. We must fire reclaim our own mental space so we can get clarity and think of a plan through this. We can turn to those we trust to help. We can have strength and determination and work with others as a team, we don’t have to do it all alone.

The Emperor With Self

The Emperor card relates to our internal world and asks us to be honest with ourselves in the areas of our life where we may have been slacking off. It’s okay to admit this, we’re all capable of this from time to time.

The Emperor says take a few moments out of our day to reacquaint with our plan, maybe even make a new one if we keep falling off it, but do not let ourselves fall into a habit of beating ourselves up. This is redundant. Use motivation and action, not guilt to further ourselves.

Reversed means when the world is difficult for us to navigate we can close up and repress our emotions. For a short time this works but long term it represses them until we completely disengage with them to the point where we cannot feel them at all and so we don’t enjoy all the best bits life has to offer.

We must let down our walls and let them in. It’s slow progress but that’s why The Emperor guides us to act little by little with patience and self love to manifest a happier self.

The Emperor As Feelings

The Emperor card feels like achievement and pride at a job we have done well. It is the feeling of pride because we were able to stick to a new action long enough to make it a habit.

The Emperor card can also feel like security because for example: we have a morning routine that supports us. In our lives it can manifest as the feeling of resting peacefully at night because we have the structure and support in our lives that we need.