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The Empress Card in Tarot and How to Read It

Andrea has a background in astrology, Myers Briggs, and pop culture with expertise in relationships and dating.

The Empress is often represented with the color red. Red signifies maturity, womanhood, and an age appropriate for pregnancy.

The Empress is often represented with the color red. Red signifies maturity, womanhood, and an age appropriate for pregnancy.

The Empress Card in Tarot

The Empress Tarot card is ruled by earth. She acts as a mother to all who is nurturing, caring, and a provider. She is the counterpart to both the High Priestess (II) and the Emperor (IV). The Empress focuses on one's physical needs while the High Priestess cares about one's spiritual needs. The Empress is the mother, while the Emperor is the father.

The Empress is the third trump of the Major Arcana, which has 22 cards. Tarot is considered the Fool's journey, and the Empress would be one of the characters the Fool meets on their quest.

Description

The Empress sits on a throne wearing a crown with twelve stars or points. She holds a scepter in one hand, which represents her power in feminine affairs.

In the background, there is a field of grain, a forest of tall trees, and a stream of flowing water. The Empress represents the Mother Earth archetype and has power over all physical things that grow. She also represents the manifestation of the subconscious, and the seeds from the subconscious are what fuel her.

The Empress is a representation of growth, fertility, motherhood, and what one believes from the heart. She represents moms, maternal influence, and matriarchs.

CategoryInfo

Number

3

Planet

Venus

Element

Earth

Represents

Motherhood, maternity, femininity, pregnancy, growth, new ideas.

Comparisons

Aphrodite, Venus, Mother Nature, Demeter, Eve

Upright

A new opportunity, abundance, growth, fertility, maturity, motherhood, femininity, family, home life, nursing, parenthood, health, nourishment, support, maternity, nurturing traits, pregnancy, steadiness, life, practicality, positive earth energy.

Reversed

Domestic problems, financial issues, unhealthy, stagnation, unwanted pregnancy, miscarriage, loss of a child, abandonment, neglect, avoidance, infertility, unsteadiness, unease, deep pain, narcissism, egotism, strict mom, grouchiness.

The Empress wears a crown of 12 stars, she wears a dress with a pattern of pomegranates, she has long flowing hair, a shield, a scepter, and the symbol of Venus.

The Empress wears a crown of 12 stars, she wears a dress with a pattern of pomegranates, she has long flowing hair, a shield, a scepter, and the symbol of Venus.

History of the Empress Card

A great deal of the symbolism attached to the Empress card comes from the Rider-Waite Tarot deck. Waite (and others) added the starry crown, the emblem of Venus, the waterfall, and animals.

In older decks, the Empress sits on a throne. She holds a shield or orb in one hand and a scepter in the other. The shield had an emblem of an eagle, which relates to the Holy Roman Empire. The Empress was seen as both a protector and provider, a defender and an opponent, an authority and a friend. She is both a shield-maiden and a mother.

The Empress is often compared to Aphrodite or Venus. (The figure is called Aphrodite in Greek mythology and Venus in Roman mythology.)

Aphrodite was the ancient goddess of love, fertility, and beauty. She was widely worshiped as a goddess of the sea and of seafaring. She was also a goddess of war in Sparta, Thebes, and Cyprus.

The Empress (III) is also connected to the Death card (XIII). She is bound to life, death, and rebirth. The Empress is a mortal. She represents the physical body. She recognizes that her body is a vessel that will perish.

The Empress exemplifies traits of the Garden of Eden. She is the fruitful mother with thousands of descendants. She is universal fecundity. She is the force that nurtures, sustains, and feeds others. Because of her sacrifices, many more will live.

The Empress card may also relate to a Taurus, Virgo, or Capricorn in the querent's life. The Taurus, Virgo, or Capricorn would likely be female.

In many decks, the Empress appears pregnant. The card doesn't necessarily suggest a physical pregnancy; it could reveal the development of a romance, art, skill, or business. The card can represent the germination of an idea.

The Empress in a reading encourages receptivity to change. Go with the flow of the Universe and not against it. When you go against it, you will be off track. If you feel like you're always going uphill and it's a fight to get anywhere, this is a good indication that you're on the wrong path or putting in the wrong effort.

Read More From Exemplore

The Empress encourages you to look around at your surroundings. The card encourages you to think outside of yourself. Be more cognizant of nature and in turn you will be more aware of your mind.

The Empress encourages you to look around at your surroundings. The card encourages you to think outside of yourself. Be more cognizant of nature and in turn you will be more aware of your mind.

Symbols

Crown With 12 Stars

The 12 stars on the crown represent the 12 planets, the 12 months, and the 12 astrological signs. Maternal cycles are bound to the seasons. There is an expected end date for a pregnancy. The Empress has power from the the 12 signs. She uses knowledge from all 12 zodiacs to make her decisions.

Robe With Patterned Design:

The Empress's robe has a pattern with pomegranates on it. The pomegranates represent femininity and fertility. The same design is in the High Priestess card but as the veil separating Solomon's Temple entrance from commoners. The Empress embraces the mortal life.

Cushions

The cushions symbolize comfort, luxury, and earthly pleasure. The Empress isn't without a home. Her needs are met. One cushion features the symbol of Venus.

Red Velvet

Red velvet on the card represents maturity, passion, and romance. The Empress is a full-grown woman, not a child nor a teenager. Red is more appropriate for her than pink.

Beautiful, Lush Forest

Another symbol for fertility and growth found on the card is the lush forest landscape. The Empress connects to a positive agricultural setting. She isn't barren, she isn't represented by a wasteland, and she isn't ugly.

Winding Stream

The stream symbolizes the Empress's ability to go with the flow. She accepts that the Universe has a flow to it, and if she follows the flow it will be nurturing. The stream and the forest have a direct relationship. Water helps the flora grow. Earth gives water purpose.

Golden Wheat

Golden wheat signifies healthy soil and/or a sizable harvest. This card signifies surplus instead of famine.

The Empress knows and understands femininity. She is a great teacher on motherhood. She represents a strong woman, a powerful leader, and a great teacher. She has a charismatic voice.

The Empress knows and understands femininity. She is a great teacher on motherhood. She represents a strong woman, a powerful leader, and a great teacher. She has a charismatic voice.

The Empress Upright

The Empress in the upright position is a very positive sign in most cases. It means growth is on the way. There will be a physical manifestation to your hopes, dreams, and goals. It means you are entering into a season of health and positive vibes. You are in a good direction with your family, health, and/or wealth.

The Empress signals a strong feminine connection or presence. The card often represents someone's mother, aunt, or another maternal figure. Femininity in Tarot represents yin qualities whereas masculinity favors yang.

Femininity is expressed in Tarot by:

  • Curves
  • Waves
  • Elegance
  • Flowing water
  • Long dresses
  • Nourishment

The Empress calls on you to connect to your sensitive side. Put a pause on aggression and take time to look at the world around you. You need to spend time admiring and accepting beauty.

  • The High Priestess encourages you to look within.
  • The Empress encourages you to look outside of yourself.

Give Your Senses Priority

Connect with your senses through touch, taste, sight, sound, and smell. The Empress is about pleasure and relaxation. Treat yourself to a massage, go to the beach, or enjoy dinner at a fine restaurant. Pamper your senses rather than ignore them.

The Empress card invites people to develop a new hobby. Try out new skills so as to stretch your mind and heart. With more skills, you can better understand yourself and help people in their time of need.

The Empress is all about abundance, surplus, and plenty. She doesn't deny herself. She doesn't neglect her children. She is available, excited, and warm. This is someone who is excellent at teaching others about motherhood. She cares for her female friends and works to make sure they're supported.

The card encourages you to get into nature. A walk outside can do wonders for your mind. Work on your yard and develop a garden. Eat more vegetables and fruits. Go outside to take pictures of sunrises and sunsets.

By grounding ourselves in reality, we can actually open up more of our consciousness. The subconscious feeds off your experiences in nature. Your dreams will likely become more vivid as you engage more with your surroundings.

Signs of an Upright Empress

  • You may feel a stronger urge to nurture and care for others.
  • You'll develop compassion.
  • You'll enjoy spending time with younger people and guiding them.

The Empress often comes up in a reading as a pregnancy. This may be a desired wish or one that is in the near future.

The Empress Reversed

You need to make yourself a priority. Love yourself more. Care for yourself more. You may have neglected your own needs, so now is the time to consider yourself.

Get some rest. Eat food if hungry. See friends if lonely. Follow the basics for better self-care and to manage your mental health.

You may need to re-energize yourself in nature. Let the outside world heal you. If you've been cooped up indoors all week, then go outside and heal. You won't find a sense of growth unless you first focus on your own needs and wants.

Take a walk and get in some intentional movement. The Empress reversed is a wake-up call: you're living your life on the sedentary side and you're going stagnant.

Give back to nature. Plant trees and flowers. Invest more time and money into your garden. Look to see if your yard has been neglected. The condition of your yard is a symbol for your well-being.

The card can signify:

  • Setbacks
  • Losing touch with your inner child
  • Energy blocks
  • Fertility issues
  • A lack of creativity

Sometimes in order to grow creativity, we must keep our newest creations private. Only you should know about that book you want to make happen. Only you should have access to your new drawings. Be protective of your creative seedlings, so they don't get snatched up or neglected.

Recommendations of a Reversed Empress

  • Stop being your own worst critic.
  • Learn to love your body again.
  • Don't be afraid of curves, bumps, and lumps.
  • Rediscover yourself.

The Empress reversed may suggest a miscarriage or postpartum issues. Your body has taken on a heavy burden, so now you need to heal. You're not feeling a connection with your surroundings, your family, or the world. Things feel off, and if you ignore your self-care, you may become grouchy, neglectful, egotistical, and a worrywart.

Direct your thinking into a new path, reach out to a therapist or doctor if your despair seems too heavy to manage.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2021 Andrea Lawrence

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