4. The Empress
Tarot reading revolves around the belief that the cards can be used to gain insight into the current and possible future situations of the subject. This kind of practice can be known as cartomancy. While it may be possible to make fortune reading through other kind of cards, like poker decks, the usage of tarot cards is the most common way to perform fortune telling. Some of the practitioners believe that they are guided by a spiritual force while others believe that the cards help them tap into a collective unconscious or their own creative, brainstorming unconscious. The divinatory meanings of the cards are derived mostly from the Kabbalah of Jewish mysticism and from medieval alchemy.
Then, let's proceed on the topic of the essay. After the Priestess, the second Arcanum of the tarot deck, the third Arcanum or the third trump card is the Empress. It can be considered as a 'matured' form of the Priestess. While the Priestess symbolizes knowledge and female instinct, the Empress is more to mothering and fertility (another take of feminism).
Just like how the Priestess symbolizes knowledge and intuition, the Empress symbolizes sexuality, prosperity, creativity, abundance fertility and motherly comfort, while helping maintain peace just like what an ideal mother would do. The Empress carries the image of an ideal mother as a benevolent mother figure. The Empress is a mother, a creator and a nurturer. In many decks, she can be shown as pregnant. She can represent the creation of life, of romance, of art or business. The Empress can represent the germination of an idea before it is ready to be fully born. The Empress is often associated with Venus, goddess of beautiful things as well as love, and indeed the Rider-Waite-Smith deck brandishes her symbol upon a heart-shaped bolster. The Empress is also often interpreted to be Demeter, goddess of abundance. She is the giver of earthly gifts, although at the same time, she can be overprotective and possessive. In anger she can withhold, as Demeter did when her daughter, Persephone, was kidnapped. Due to her fury and grief, Demeter keeps the Earth cold and barren until spring when her child is returned to her.
In the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, the Empress is depicted as a woman who sits on a throne, wearing a starry crown while holding a scepter in one hand. The scepter in her hand is a representative of her power over life, her crown has twelve stars representing her dominance over the year and her throne is in the midst of a field of grain which represents her dominion over growing things.
Then, let's move on to the interpretation of the card. Just like what being mentioned above, the Empress comes after the Priestess as the third trump of tarot deck. Some of the interpretations can be motherly affections, fertility, sexuality, abundance, nature, beauty, satisfaction and health. The presence of the Empress Arcanum is relevant for the Fool's Journey, in which the Fool is depicted to receive a motherly treatment after making certain choices through the Magician and the Priestess. In this context, the motherly treatment means that the Fool has overcome the first obstacle of his journey.
In fiction, the Empress can also be applied on characters, usually for female characters that have authority. Usually, the Empress can be seen on the characters that are the queens or mother figures. As a benign rulers or mothers of their people or children, they show their affections and love while still being looked by those who are under them with high regards. This applies on some characters like Princess Zelda from the Legend of Zelda, Queen Padme Amidala from Star Wars, Queen Titania from A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland. They are depicted as the rulers of their people.
While the Empress in upright position means someone caring about one being with motherly love and assuring the enjoyment of life, the reversed position of the Empress means someone selfish and hedonistic. It means that someone with the trait of the reversed Empress is a person who is considered as a ruler of her people and yet she chooses to be a selfish, heartless ruler who will not give a damn about her people below her. This quality of a character with the trait of the reversed Empress can be seen in the character Queen of Hearts from Alice and Wonderland. She is depicted as a bloodthirsty queen who executes her people over slightest provocations. This kind of quality also applies for some evil queen characters in fairy tales like in Snow White.
The Empress Arcanum may be required to create a character who is a motherly ruler of her people like queens and empresses. You may create your own characters based on the quality. More depictions will be made in the future. Until then, have fun writing.
The Next Arcanum: The Emperor