04 The Commanding EMPEROR


If I had to choose a religion, the sun as the universal giver of life would be my god.
– Napoleon Bonaparte


800x1200-napoleon-bonaparte-crowningIn 1804, Napoleon crowned himself Emperor of the French by grabbing the crown out of the Pope’s hands, signifying his power over the Catholic Church. Soon after, he crowned his wife Josephine as Empress as well.

The Emperor archetype is always associated with a strong ego. As we will see further, the Emperor is marked by the zodiac sign of Leo (the lion is the animals king) of which the Sun is the ruler. For Napoleon Bonaparte, whose sun sign is Leo (he was born on August 15, 1769), the Sun is above all humans and religions. His quote above says it all about the Emperor archetype.

While showing little resemblance with Napoleon himself, Ingres painting above shows his crowning with abundant imperial symbols. (1) The Emperor is seated in a sumptuous, elevated, wide throne (stable and maximum power), (2) Of which each armrest ends with an ivory (purity) ball (courage, “to have the balls”), (3) He holds Charles V (Emperor) scepter (regal authority) with his right (active) hand, (4) And the hand of justice (legal power, code Napoleon) with his left (receptive) hand, (5) Charlemagne (Emperor) coronation sword (warrior, conquests) stands on his left side, (6) A laurel wreath (Caesar Emperor) covers his head, (7) He wears the great collar of the “Legion d’Honneur” (highest French merit award), (8) Over an ermine hood (royal attribute), (9) He wears a gold-embroidered satin tunic and an ermine-lined purple velvet cloak decorated with gold bees (kings pageantry), (10) He also wears white (purity) shoes (materiality) embroidered in gold (royal color) resting on a cushion (comfortable connection with the material world), (11) The carpet under the throne displays a huge imperial eagle (the birds king) (12) And some zodiac signs (cosmic power).

The Emperor arcana and Astro Tarology “Flower of Life”

Before detailing the Emperor symbols in the four previously selected tarot decks, let’s look at the Fool (#0), the Magician (#1), the High Priestess (#2), the Empress (#3) and the Emperor positions in the Astro Tarology “Flower of Life”. That structure works for almost all tarot decks major arcana. We selected the Tarot de Marseille (TDM) where the Traveling Fool is called “Le Mat”,  the Initiating Magician “Le Bateleur”, the Incubating High Priestess “La Papesse”, the Seducing Empress “L’Impératrice” and the Commanding Emperor “L’Empereur”. All five can be seen at the image bottom.


The Emperor represents the link between Jupiter (abundance and success) and the Moon (imaginary world). Jupiter gives the Emperor his imperial aura and the Moon the illusion of invincibility.

Let’s now observe the four different Emperor arcana

Tarot de Marseille (TDM)

320x660-emperor-jodoUnlike the static Napoleon comfortably seated on his overwhelmingly consecrated authority, the TDM Emperor has a more dynamic demeanor. He is half seated (established authority) half standing (ready to move), seen side-on (not seeking any viewer’s ego validation, self-confidence, like the kings in a standard playing deck of cards) holding firmly (determination) his scepter (ready to act) with his right (active) hand in the air (no need for body support, secured strength). His seat is more an armchair than a throne (ready for grounded activities). The TDM Emperor represents a powerful father figure, that in some cases could be associated with a deity.

(1) The Emperor is marked by the number four (IIII), which in numerology symbolizes stability (like a table four legs), (2) Attached to his yellow (gold) laurel necklace (winner), the yellow oval pendant (his own ruled world) is divided in four quadrants (the four life functions: material, emotional, creative and intellectual) meaning that he is in full authority of his own universe, (3) The number four appears also in the square shape (material grounding) between his legs, (4) His head is crowned with a yellow helmet (intelligence) bordered with red (life) triangles (sun rays) and surmounted by a compass (the four cardinal directions, stability, order), (5) A red curvy shape (life flow) links his yellow helmet (intellectual knowledge) with his sky blue hair and beard (spiritual wisdom), (6) His left (receptive) hand is smaller than his right (active).

To reach a higher awareness level, the TDM Emperor needs to be ready to act in the world with strength, authority and self-confidence.

Empresses are from Venus and Emperors are from Mars

Each arcana is a letter of the tarot alphabet. By combining two letters we will get a syllable. Let’s illustrate with the couple Empress – Emperor.


(1) While the TDM Empress holds her scepter leaning on her pubis with her left (receptive) hand, the TDM Emperor holds his in the air with his right (active) hand, (2) The cross at her scepter’s end is orange (intellectual) while his is red (life), (3) While the eagle in her shield is unfinished (see its right wing), his eagle is completed, (4) His eagle sits on a  white egg indicating that it is a female (the small receptive yin part in a strongly active yang personality = Jung anima) and her Adam’s apple symbolizes the reverse (a male eagle = small yang part in a strongly yin personality = Jung animus). More about Astro Tarology and Yin-Yang.

In the above sequence III-IIII (as opposed to IIII-III), the couple looks at each other offering them a greater completeness. While the Empress without Emperor would be very active and idealist, the Emperor without Empress would become too realist and might lack actions. Combining her receptivity (yin, Venus) and his activity (yang, Mars) will complement each other and help them reach a higher level of united consciousness.

Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot (RWS)

350x600-emperor-waiteSitting on a square (four) stone (stability) throne, the RWS Emperor is also a symbol of the father archetype. His beard shows his mature wisdom while the armor (strength) under his red  (life, energy, action) robe indicates his physical vitality ready to fight to protect his realm. Astrologically, the Emperor in his palace is marked by the glorious sign of Leo (ruled by the Sun), but when he is outside battling the warrior is marked by the sign of Aries (ruled by planet Mars, the Roman god of war = Greek Ares). The RWS Emperor arcanum shows four (again) ram’s heads (like Khnum an aspect of Ra, the Egyptian Sun god).

(1) In his right (active and giving) hand, the RWS Emperor holds a solid yellow (gold power) Ankh scepter (Egyptian symbol of virility), (2) And in his left (receptive and receiving) hand a golden apple (feminine goodness), (3) His multi-faceted crown (power) is associated with self-reliance and higher self, (4) The rocky mountainous background symbolizes security, (5) His throne is higher than the mountains (domination), (6) A small river in the bottom indicates that there is life and room for growth under his leadership and (7) the sky is color orange and yellow (fire and spiritual quest).

To reach a higher awareness level, the RWS Emperor needs to be a leader who provides his realm with protection, stability and security.

Mythic Tarot (MT)

358x600-emperor-mythicThe MT Emperor is associated with no other than Zeus, the Greek god of all gods and humans. Zeus was born from Titans Rhea and Cronos. After a prophet had told Cronos that one of his children would overthrown him, he decided to kill all his offsprings at birth. And so he did by swallowing the first five children. When she was bearing her sixth child, Rhea fled secretly to a cave and gave birth to Zeus. She then tricked Cronos by wrapping a stone in lieu of the baby, which he swallowed like the others. Zeus now a grownup tricked his father to drink a sickening potion which made him throw up the five unharmed children and the stone. Zeus then lead his siblings to overthrow Cronos, fulfilling the initial prophecy and establishing his unconditional power on Mount Olympus.


(1) The MT Emperor sits on and fills a squared (stable number four) golden throne (regal) on the top of a mountain (material and spiritual heights), (2) The background shows snow-topped mountains (aloneness at the top) emerging above a soft blue (light of the day) sky itself over a navy blue (darkness of the night) sky, (3) His right (active) hand holds thunderbolts (power, sudden light, vision), (4) And his left (receptive) hand a world globe (imperial ruling), (5) An eagle stands on his left (receptive) shoulder (neck level = link between physical body and intellectual head) looks to the right (future). Because it can fly higher than all other birds and is the only animal able to look at the sun, the eagle rules the flying birds (air) as the lion the mammals (earth). Both are emblems of ultimate leadership.

To reach a higher awareness level, the MT Emperor needs to embody the father figure of legal, moral, ethical and spiritual integrity.

Symbolon Tarot (ST)


(1) The ST Emperor sits on a stable square-shaped (number four) gold throne (regal), (2) In front of a huge sun (power, ideal, ego), (3) backed by a yellow sky (consciousness). (4) His right (active) hand holds a golden scepter (regal power), (5) And his left (receptive) hand holds a blue sphere (sky) with golden ornaments (spirituality) surmounted by a cross (deity), (6) He receives his power from above (sky, left hand) and gives the benefits to below (earth, right hand), (7) The arcanum left side (past) shows a community living in tents (transient and temporary homes), the right (future) is showing a solidly build village (stable and permanent homes), (8) The throne legs (stability) are made of sphinx-like faces (Egyptian sphinx is a solar symbol, body = lion, strength, protection), (9) A red and orange (solar fire) carpet leads to the elevated throne (superpower).

In the corners we see the astrological symbols of the Leo (king, sex, ego) zodiac sign and its ruling Sun (power, creativity, ideal). Those celestial analogies appeared all along from Napoleon to each of the four tarot Emperor arcanum.

To reach a higher awareness level, the ST Emperor needs to express his identity and live his own life regardless of others’ opinion.


In a summary, we can say that to reach a higher awareness level, the Emperor needs to (1) be ready to act in the world with strength, authority and self-confidence, (2) be a leader who provides his realm with protection, stability and security, (3) embody the father figure of legal, moral, ethical and spiritual integrity and (4) express his identity and live his own life regardless of others’ opinion.

As a practical simple advice, your inner Emperor recommends that you show strength and integrity in your commanding leadership.



Click on 2 for the EMPEROR Practical Exercises

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