The Emperor & Security Structures
Have you ever thought about your favorite tarot cards? I never actually did until a few days ago. With seventy-eight options, it’s actually quite difficult to choose a favorite card. Many tarot readers though purchase new decks based on one card or another in particular. The card holds special meaning to them, despite otherwise having no significance. But what if we had to pick a favorite card based on artwork and divinatory meaning at the same time? This process is an interesting one, highlighting cards that would otherwise escape our notice. Whatever our favorite card turns out to be, there’s plenty of exploring to do. Usually we tend to explore card meanings or their significance, but this challenge allows us to take another look at what just feels right. So, here’s my favorite card, and we’ll explore it across quite a few decks.
As you may have guessed, here’s the question for today:
What is your favorite card, both in terms of the deck’s artwork and divinatory meaning?
When I took a look at possible favorite cards, I was struck by how they all had one thing more or less in common, The Emperor. The cards I naturally gravitate toward include the 3 of Pentacles, 2 of Wands, 4 of Wands, and 6 of Wands. Personally, this is an almost exaggerated amount of elemental fire cards. But I can’t help it, I love the symbolism of each of these cards. These cards are often called The Lord of Material Works, The Lord of Dominion, The Lord of Abundance, and The Lord of Victory. For me, these are all traits or concepts I try to embody in my everyday life. Strangely enough, many of these cards have a root commonality of either Mars or Aries. That 4 of Wands, Venus in Aries, hits right on my natal chart. But is there something more going on?
Trying to decipher why I like The Emperor isn’t actually all that difficult. I do embrace many aspects of the stereotypical Venus in Aries dynamic. To make this even worse, I happen to have Mercury in Aries as well. I’m opinionated, stubborn, and confident in myself. When I looked for a partner, I probably needed an embodiment of The Emperor. For me, there’s just a tad bit of strong recognition of that fact. I crave structure and strong-willed men, and, while it’s not for everyone, it’s for me. The Emperor on a larger scale embodies the structures many of us work within, or the sense of authority that guides us. There’s just so much I love about this card, and it is now, officially, my favorite. But what deck depicts my all time favorite Emperor? Well, that’s really tough to answer.
Whenever I try to pick out a particular favorite card, I also consult Rider Waite themed decks first. I don’t know why I do it, but I just do. Here we have three extremely popular decks, two of which I own myself. Out of these three, I particularly like the Hanson Roberts Tarot’s version of The Emperor. To me, this card depicts Julius Caesar, and I’m all about the historical significance of this. The Morgan Greer deck is a close second. To me, that Emperor is an embodiment of Zeus. I just have problems connecting to Zeus on some levels. Making matters worse is the fact that Mars is the planetary ruler of Aries, and Zeus is connected with Jupiter, which rules the Wheel of Fortune card. The Rider Waite deck just doesn’t have a very nice Emperor, at least to me personally.
The next set of tarot decks I look into are that of the Golden Dawn. There’s quite a few of these, and so far I only own the Golden Dawn Magical Tarot. Strangely enough, it is my least favorite Emperor. The art style of the deck just makes everything seem so comical. I’m also torn between The Emperor in the other decks, leaning toward the Initiatory Tarot of the Golden Dawn’s version. To me, The Emperor has the experience of protecting his kingdom, and quite honestly, The Golden Dawn Tarot’s looks inexperienced in this area. He looks more like a high priest than a battle ready king. The not so subtle phallic themes of the Initiatory Tarot of the Golden Dawn’s throne for The Emperor is also a plus. If you could mix the Hanson Roberts Emperor and this one, I’d be quite happy. All in all, I like the art style of the Initiatory Tarot better than that of the Hanson Roberts.
Of course, I have to take a look at my favorite deck and those based on it, the Thoth Tarot. Personally, I prefer The Empress to the The Emperor in this deck. But, what really stands out to me is the Tabula Mundi’s Emperor. I recently order this deck, and I can’t wait for it to get here! The themes of this card alone make me fall in love with the deck. I’m curious as to how the deck describes some of the Masonic themes within this Emperor card. All in all, I think the card captures everything I love The Emperor for. While I never thought of including a bee hive in the card’s symbolism, it does fit quite well, exceptionally well. The eagle behind the square and compass bothers me, but I get why it is there. It’s almost a neat nod to the past in my opinion. Yeah, the Tabula Mundi’s Emperor just became my absolute favorite.
Despite finding my favorite Emperor card, I still like to explore other decks. For example, I love Ciro Marchetti’s artwork. The cards are always so stunning, and I’m greatly torn between his Gilded Tarot Royale and Tarot of Dreams depictions of The Emperor. To me, the card quality has always been the reason I don’t pursue these decks more often. But, I do love the artwork and it’s a great way to contrast themes of The Emperor across one artist. I personally think I love the Tarot of Dreams best at the moment. The king merges into his own city, and I relate to that theme best. I do have The Gilded Tarot, and I enjoy the way Zeus is depicted on that card in particular. But the color within the Tarot of Dreams is another interesting choice that resonates well.
Before concluding, I always like to take a look at Egyptian themed tarot decks. This is mainly due to my interest in Ancient Egyptian history and the myths surrounding the origins of tarot itself. The Ramses Tarot of Eternity is a deck I’ve debated getting many times. The themes of The Emperor here are subtle, and greater the more history you know. The Pharaoh here wears the Khepresh, or War Crown capturing many of the previous themes of defense, or authority. Interestingly, the wall behind the Pharaoh also depicts prior accomplishments in battle. While highly inaccurate and a bit strange, the card does a fantastic job of embodying The Emperor. The Cleopatra Tarot is just strange in its symbolism. Without the accompanying guidebook, I won’t speak for it. But, Clive Barrett’s tarot is by far my favorite. The symbolism here is unique and interesting, though it isn’t my favorite version of The Emperor.
Lastly, I want to share one of my favorite Emperor cards with you. Novelty decks have a mixed opinion in my view, but they can really showcase some wonderful interpretations of tarot symbolism. For some reason, I just absolutely love The Housewives Tarot’s Emperor. There’s something about this Emperor that brings a certain fondness to mind. The card is hilarious, but in that hilarity there’s also a certain focus on only the positive connotations of this card. On the other hand, The Zombie Tarot has an almost opposite perspective. There’s a protectiveness theme for The Emperor, and yet, an inescapable novelty feel to the deck. Both cards combine to give a feeling of protection, authority, and family. The structure themes are almost glossed over, but that’s the beauty of novelty decks at times. As a runner up, The Housewives Tarot’s Emperor always makes me smile.
So, what’s your favorite tarot card and its deck representation?