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Learn to Read Tarot Card Combinations: 10 of Wands and the Emperor

Rebecca is an experienced tarot reader whose mission is to use the cards to help others increase their levels of personal development.

If you want to learn to give professional-quality tarot readings, whether to paying clients or your friends and family, you'll need to learn the magic of tarot card combinations.

If you want to learn to give professional-quality tarot readings, whether to paying clients or your friends and family, you'll need to learn the magic of tarot card combinations.

Want to Give Professional-Quality Tarot Readings? Read Your Cards in Combination!

I've always read tarot cards in combination with one another, but I never realized quite how important this method is until recently. While I consider it an advanced skill to read a single card in isolation, many new readers are discouraged from reading card combinations. And even experienced tarot card readers sometimes struggle to learn how to interpret tarot card combinations!

Tarot cards in combination can entirely alter the meaning of a single card, changing a card from a positive framework to a negative framework, or vice versa. Once you know how to read cards in combination, your confidence in reading for yourself and others will increase, and your results will improve measurably.

The purpose of this article is to help you learn how to interpret cards in combination with one another, and to build your confidence in reading tarot cards as parts of spreads.

Ready to get started? Today, we're going to be talking about the combination of the 10 of Wands with the Emperor. I'll demonstrate how different card orders change the potential meaning of a card combination, as well as how this combination may be relevant in a spread you could be reading for a client or querent.

Getting Started: What Do These Cards Mean in Isolation?

Before we get to talking about what these cards mean in combination with one another, I want to start out with what each card means alone.

If you're learning tarot from one of the big online brands, chances are you've been encouraged to look at cards individually, maybe even trying out one and three card spreads instead of tackling more advanced work. Where this is the case, you may have already learned the meanings of these cards.

Please feel free to skip this section if you're already comfortable with the Ten of Wands and the Emperor.

The Ten of Wands from the Everyday Witch Tarot by Deborah Blake with artwork by Elisabeth Alba.

The Ten of Wands from the Everyday Witch Tarot by Deborah Blake with artwork by Elisabeth Alba.

What Is the Meaning of the Ten of Wands?

By itself, the Ten of Wands indicates a situation in which you (or your client/querent) are carrying a heavy burden. In many (if not most) of these cases, the burden is one which rightfully belongs to others, indicating a person may be carrying a weight which is not their own.

In practical terms, the Ten of Wands may reference a person's physical pain, often centered in their shoulders or upper back (just like if you were carrying a load of sticks up a hill).

Sometimes this card may also indicate a client/querent has accepted responsibility for their own actions and must now deal with the consequences of their poor choices.

For those clients/querents seeking to further develop themselves, this card may indicate they now continue to live with a lack of forgiveness, and must therefore address within themselves the need to forgive others and themselves for past actions.

This is a card of holding onto "dead weight" which must be released if a coaching client is to move forward from the burden they continue to carry.

Keywords: responsibility; burden; weight; back, neck, or shoulder pain; completing a burdonsome task

The Emperor from the Everyday Witch Tarot by Deborah Blake with artwork by Elisabeth Alba.

The Emperor from the Everyday Witch Tarot by Deborah Blake with artwork by Elisabeth Alba.

What Is the Meaning of the Emperor?

By itself, the Emperor (key 4 in the tarot) indicates the presence of a strong masculine energy. This energy is often benevolent and generally has the best interests of the querent in mind, but be warned! This card is also the zodiacal trump of Aries, and the Emperor can therefore possess a hot temper and a need to control every situation in which he finds himself.

A representation of earthly masculine authority, the Emperor also possesses a note of power. This card can indicate that a client/querent must learn to control their own impulses, or that they have begun to lose control of themselves or their situation (depending on the context of the question).

This card could also represent the querent's father, or a paternal energy surrounding them.

It always carries a sense of authority. Whether this authority is dominant or domineering depends on—you guessed it—the surrounding cards.

With that in mind, let's take a look at how the Ten of Wands and The Emperor influence one another in a typical tarot spread.

Keywords: Aries; energy of authority; energy; paternal energy; fatherly energy; rulership; energy of control; energy of earthly (political) power; temper/angry energy

In this example, the Ten of Wands comes before the Emperor.

In this example, the Ten of Wands comes before the Emperor.

10 of Wands + Emperor (When 10 of Wands Comes First)

First, let's look at how the two individual meanings influence one another.

The Ten of Wands indicates a situation in which the client/querent is struggling under the weight of some kind of burden. The Emperor is a grounded, paternal energy of authority. So let's look at some keywords and combine them.

Burden + Authority - This could indicate a querent who is burdened by the authority they themself possess. Their position of authority has become a burden and they are no longer able to fulfill their duties.

Responsibility + Father - This could indicate a querent who has become responsible for a person they think of as their father. It may be their father or a person they think of in a paternal role.

Responsibility + Temper - This could indicate a querent who has taken responsibility for their temper or anger and is beginning to grow into a state in which they can manage their emotional fluctuations.

In this example, The Emperor comes before the 10 of Wands.

In this example, The Emperor comes before the 10 of Wands.

Emperor + 10 of Wands (Where the Emperor Comes First)

These two layouts look the same, but they're not. Similar, of course, but the order of the cards can change their meaning (depending on how you choose to read tarot cards, which aren't always laid out in a linear fashion).

Let's look at how the keywords influence one another now.

Fatherly Energy + Responsibility - This could indicate fatherly responsibility. In a predictive reading, it could indicate the querent will be expected to take on more responsibility with their children, particularly in the respect of roles typically assigned to the father (discipline, work environment, and so on).

Fatherly Energy + Pain - This could indicate someone who is feeling stressed about a situation in which they have a paternal role (stress tends to collect in the muscles of the shoulders or back). It could also indicate a person who has injured themself while performing the duties of a person of authority (such as a person in management).

Energy of Power/Authority + Burden - This could indicate the querent isn't happy in their current role at work, particularly if they work in management, and they feel burdened by the responsibilities which have been assigned to them in this role. It may be time to take a break and change career paths.

But Wait! There Are Other Ways to Read a Tarot Card Combination!

So far I've addressed how to read these two cards in combination with one another in a linear way. What I haven't addressed is how these cards can be read within the context of a spread.

When you read tarot, you're looking to answer a question. (When I read tarot, I am looking to answer a question about myself, my blocks, and my hurdles.)

Some spreads (the best ones, in my opinion!) often have a card which is CROSSED by another card.

But what does "crossed" mean?

I'm glad you asked!

"Crossed" means that the essence of one card in some way blocks, inhibits, or otherwise counter-balances the card beneath it. The "crossing" card represents something which challenges the energy, situation, or person described by the first card.

What does that mean with our 10 of Wands and Emperor cards? Let's find out!

Here, the Emperor "crosses" the Ten of Wands. See how it's laid across its companion?

Here, the Emperor "crosses" the Ten of Wands. See how it's laid across its companion?

Ten of Wands Crossed by the Emperor

Now we're looking at a very different scenario, and keywords may not be enough.

First, you're going to need to have a handle on the first card—the one which is being crossed by the other. It will help if you fully understand your client's question and situation. If you are reading for a querent for the first time, this is a good time to ask questions for clarity on their situation.

The bottom card describes the situation or atmosphere the querent is dealing with.

You will want to know just what the Ten of Wands means in the client's situation before proceeding to read the Emperor. It could be they feel burdened by responsibility for something they've chosen, or it could be they have taken on a role which is better delegated to someone else.

Most probably the querent is struggling with negative emotions, such as guilt or shame, and struggles to overcome them because they have taken responsibility for something which isn't theirs.

The top card describes what is preventing the querent from progressing, or what is making the situation worse.

Like with the bottom card, you will want to know what the Emperor means to the client. Use your intuition and feel free to ask questions to see what resonates. Remember: The Major Arcana cards are major energies surrounding the querent's situation.

As a crossing card, the Emperor could represent earthly authority (such as politicians, father figures, teachers, government, etc).

There are two ways to interpret the crossing card.

  1. The crossing card is preventing an event described by the bottom card from happening.
  2. The crossing card enhances the energy of the bottom card, making its effect on the querent stronger.

In most spreads, the top card in a cross is an opposing force, as in interpretation one.

So, what does it mean when the Emperor crosses the Ten of Wands?

Let's look at the ways to interpret a cross listed above and apply the Ten of Wands + The Emperor to these rules.

  1. The querent has taken on too much responsibility at work, but their boss is working to relieve their burden. They may be fighting the relief.

    OR

    The querent is struggling with stress and a person with a fatherly energy is attempting to help them through the stressful experience.

  2. The querent is stressed because their boss is putting too much pressure on them and forcing them to take on new responsibility.

    OR

    The querent has taken on a lot of responsibility because an authority figure is putting too many demands (or restrictions) on them.
Here, the Ten of Wands "crosses" the Emperor. This is a classic "cross" in tarot.

Here, the Ten of Wands "crosses" the Emperor. This is a classic "cross" in tarot.

The Emperor Crossed by the Ten of Wands

Major Arcana cards describe the energy surrounding a situation, so the Emperor in this scenario is an underlying energy.

This card indicates that the situation at hand requires the client to take a practical point of view toward a situation, or may mean they the situation requires the querant to take charge and be the person who is in command of their life.

Discuss with the client how this energy affects them, and get an idea of where it applies to their situation. (I support discussing the reading with a querant as you read. While some would consider this "cold reading," bear in mind the cards have already given you information. You're just clarifying it!)

Minor Arcana cards describe actions and situations which are part of everyday life.

Therefore, the Ten of Wands likely describes either a situation or a problem for the client.

This means that an "energy" (a major arcana card) is being blocked by a situation the querant is experiencing in their life. Can you see how it makes this an entirely different reading than the one posted above?

In this case, the energy represented by the Emperor is being blocked in some way by the situation described by the ten of wands.

For example: The client wishes to follow the rules and get along with other people (energy of authority), but they feel burdened by the weight of those same rules.

Always Trust Your Intuition When Reading Tarot Card Combinations

Although I had been inspired to create this article previously, the drive to write about this particular card combination came about due to a reading I observed in which these two cards arose together.

My instant intuition when observing this reading was "This person is attempting to control the situation."

Whenever you read a spread, be sure to trust your "gut feeling" (your intuition) about the cards you've drawn. Apply them to the situation the querent is dealing with, ask questions if necessary, and remember to apply the cards to the specific question the client has asked!

It can be difficult to learn to read tarot card combinations, even for experienced readers! Here, we'll study four ways the Ten of Wands and the Emperor can be combined with one another and how to interpret these combinations.

It can be difficult to learn to read tarot card combinations, even for experienced readers! Here, we'll study four ways the Ten of Wands and the Emperor can be combined with one another and how to interpret these combinations.

If you like the look of the deck used in this lesson, I highly recommend it. It is called the Everyday Witch Tarot, and is one of my favorite decks to work with. The rich imagery will test your intuition and open your eyes to the possibilities. Don't let its "cartoonish" appearance deceive you. This deck packs a powerful punch and has given me some of the most remarkably accurate readings in my 25 years of tarot experience!

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.

© 2018 Rebecca Rizzuti