The Emperor puts in place structure and rules, confident in his authority. He rules as a father figure, a protector and guide. He is more remote, more severe.
The Empress and Emperor represent mother and father in their archetypal roles.
In its best form, the Emperor represents a stable society where the people are free to go about their business within a fair structure of law. At worst, it can be a society where the law has been corrupted, rules become supreme, or like a dictatorship.
In the card, the Emperor appears cold and stiff. His remoteness means he has lost touch with his inner soul, the river, so abundant in the Empress is narrow and struggling.
In the journey to higher enlightenment, the Emperor is a test. Many of us struggle with the rules of society, yet we must absorb them and find our own way to our own code of conduct. This means neither blind obedience nor continual breaking the rules. Both of these behaviours are really carried out when one is bound by the rules.
In readings, the Emperor signifies an encounter with regulations or the law. Whether good or bad depends on the context.
Reversed, his severity and remoteness are reversed, but hopefully not too far or it will descend into immaturity.
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