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4 - The Emperor - Tarot Card Meanings

Key Symbolism

 father figure,  authority, rules, structure, order, discipline, leadership, security, protection,  commitment, power, a solid foundation, logic and intellect over emotions, responsibility, reliability, wisdom gained by experience, expertise, guidance, protection, setting boundaries, husband.

emperor tarot card meaning, emperor love meaning, the emperor tarot

The Emperor - Description and Symbolism


The Emperor is depicted sitting on a throne that is made of stone. Behind him we can see bleak mountains, referring to rigid structures. His white long beard symbolizes age, experience and wisdom and his red clothing represents his drive, passion, strength and power. He holds an ankh in his right hand – a symbol of life force. The golden orb in his left hand represents his worldly power.

The Emperor - General Meaning

The Emperor has the number 4, which stands for stability and structure. He symbolizes the masculine principle, authorities, experience, leadership and father figures. The Emperor can appear in situations when we choose to listen to our head more than our heart when facing decisions or when we take on a role of leadership.


Since he represents father figures, he also is a symbol for security and protection. 


As an advice, he can ask you to get in control of a matter, to take the role of a leader, to put things into order, to set boundaries, to use your experience and to be more strict with yourself and with others.


The Emperor - Love Meaning


In a love reading the Emperor can indicate that one person has the control in the relationship and is ‘setting the rules’ or that they are taking the leadership role. This might not necessarily cause a conflict in the relationship.


The Emperor can also symbolize a committed partner that offers stability and protection, like a father figure or like a husband.

He can also be a hint to bring more order into your relationship or remind you to not only listen to your heart, when evaluating love matters and facing decisions.

The Emperor - As Feelings

If you ask how someone feels for you, the Emperor can indicate that the person in question is not very emotional at the time. They might want to keep their emotions under control.


If there were any conflicts, they will think about them rationally and try to find the right solution and make the right decisions.


Another meaning could be that they want to offer you stability and be there for you. They want to do the right thing. 

The Emperor - As a Person

When representing a person, the Emperor can stand for someone with authority. They might have a leading position in their job. They probably have a logical way of thinking and don't act very emotionally. Someone with the personality of the Emperor most probably likes to be in charge and is rather dominant.

The Emperor Reversed - Tarot Card Meaning

Key Symbolism

chaos,  inferiority, abuse of power, tyranny, recklessness, rigidity, 

lack of discipline, irresponsibility, immaturity, lack of control, stubbornness,

being too stern, emotional coldness, unreliability, irresponsibility

The Emperor Reversed - General Meaning

If the Emperor appears reversed, he can indicate that the attributes of the upright card are exaggerated or the opposite. He can indicate that you are too strict with yourself or too dominant in the way you treat those around you. He can also represent a tyrant or someone misusing their power.


The Emperor upright is also a symbol of power, order and discipline. When reversed, he can indicate chaos, weakness or a lack of discipline. 

The Emperor Reversed - Love Meaning

In a love reading the Emperor Reversed can indicate that one of the persons in the relationship is acting too dominant. They might want to be the one calling the shots at all times, and this might be causing trouble. 

Another interpretation is that there is chaos in your relationship. Maybe there is constant change in your relationship routine. One of the persons involved might be acting unreliable or unpredictable. 

Another meaning could be that someone is unable to express their emotional, softer side.

The Emperor Reversed - As a feeling

If you ask how someone feels for you, the Emperor reversed can indicate that, if they have been fighting or hiding their feelings before, they might now become more open to express their feelings. 

They might also feel like they can't be there for you and take care of you in the way they would like to.

Another meaning could be that they feel weak or oppressed by you. 

© Illustrations from the Radiant Rider-Waite 2015 reproduced by permission of U.S. Games Systems Inc., Stanford, CT 06902. c. 2015 by U.S. Games Systems Inc. All rights reserved.

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