The Empress is the archetypal Earth Mother, the Anima, the Feminine Principle, Demeter, Freyja and the Goddess of Fertility. Ruled by Venus, the planet of love, creativity, fertility, art, harmony, luxury, beauty and grace.
The main feature of this card is the Empress herself, a full-figured woman with blond hair and a peaceful and calm aura about her. On her head she wears a crown of stars, showing her connection with the mystical realm of angels and fairies. She is dressed in a patterned robe of pomegranates, symbolic of fertility and is seated upon a luxurious array of cushions and flowing red velvet with the symbol of Venus emblazoned upon it.
Throughout this card, our Empress sits on the precipice of sharing the wealth and being too spoiled to think about others. While the mighty scepter is a symbol of royal power throughout history, hers is a mere bauble, as if the power of her position is yet another trinket. The crown of twelve stars represents the twelve signs of the zodiac and her mastery over anyone of any sign, a power of seduction. Her hand on her knee is idle, indicating plenty of time to be immersed in the joys of life and the pursuit of pleasures. Some Tarot decks illustrate her holding a flower in this hand, also representing this tendency for casual engagement with the niceties of life. The shield nearby is a metaphor of protecting herself with her beauty. If someone were to break her heart she would deflect the hurt by being able to find yet another man of her dreams. The wheat at her feet indicates that the basic needs in life are taken care of. The things over which most people struggle are not even a concern for the Empress. She can be immersed in the good life while most other people are busy earning a living.
Meaning in Past, Present and Future Positions
Every Tarot reading is different but the patterns of the reading are the same. Cards land into three specific sections: past, present and future. Where a card lands can greatly change its meaning.
When The Empress appears in the past position, you are being confronted with some diva-like behavior in the recent past that has caused the tumult in your interpersonal relationships. If things are not too chaotic at the moment, this card represents coming from a background of being taken care of by your family. Growing up a little princess has its benefits.
If the present position is occupied by The Empress card, you are likely in a great mood, perhaps even satisfied with life to the point that you wonder if there may be something you should be doing. Is boredom setting in? Is your Tarot reading just another diversion like a day at the beach or a weekend in Las Vegas? There is a superficial streak running through The Empress card and you may be enjoying the casual glow of a glittery partnership instead of a deep and committed love that would ultimately satisfy you.
Looking into the future position, The Empress card foretells good things when landing here. This is the fairy tale happy ending. When the future holds as much promise as The Empress represents, you can know that a symbol of hope is becoming more real with each passing day. The card here can be an indicator of becoming wealthy or of finding a person who loves and appreciates you as their definition of beauty. The former is true if your reading has been fixated with economic and career questions. The latter is true if you sat down for a soulmate reading.
As the cards are laid out in your Tarot reading, each card informs and influences the cards nearby, and every card is simultaneously under the spell of those very cards they touch. The circle of influences assures you of receiving a unique Tarot reading that is as individual as it is unrepeatable.
For a woman receiving a reading, The Empress card represents her in relationship to other cards. When paired with The Emperor card, your relationship with your father or a lover becomes the subject of the entire reading. When The Empress is in a reading with The Devil card, you will be oblivious to some hurt you cause a person. This will lead to a situation where the person seeks revenge. The closer these two cards are in your reading the more you are advised to avoid gossiping and casual dismissals of the efforts of others.
Another intense card combination with similar results is when the Tarot card Death appears alongside The Empress. This means a longtime relationship will end because of a perceived grievance you have delivered to the other person. So much of The Empress card revolves around not realizing the effect you have on others as your pursuits of pleasure take you out of the daily struggle just enough to lose touch with how the world conducts itself. Death is numbered 13 in the Tarot, a higher echo of the number 3 held by The Empress. Both of these cards signal detachment. Death has no relationship to what came before or what ill comes after; it simply moves through with impunity, ending one chapter before another begins. The Empress is detached from having to worry about day-to-day affairs. She can get by on her looks and coast on her money, and she usually does.
The Empress paired with The Hermit card indicates a woman who is alone because she has not developed enough skills to succeed in life when her youthful beauty begins to fade.
The core attributes of The Empress can be found individuated in the Minor Arcana cards that are numbered 3: The Three of Wands exemplifies the material success enjoyed by The Empress, while the The Three of Swords underscores the constant alienation that her obliviousness creates. The Three of Cups shows that her nurturing of relationships can find a healthy outlet if she forgoes selfishness and works to enrich the aspirations of those around her. The Three of Pentacles is the card of teamwork – reminding us that The Empress is where she is through efforts of others beyond just herself.