The Emperor. The Father figure. Good or bad, depending on your life experience with your own father. He has two sides and the smart Emperor knows when and how to apply both. He is the human male archetype. The realist, the logic driven personality. The protector. Where the Empress is art in the abstract, the Emperor is the architect – beauty in the linear. Both have their merits but one cannot be permitted to exclude the other and both attempt to do just that, in their shadow manifestations – their dark sides, if you will.
The Emperor may be telling us to think with our heads and not our hearts. This is applicable in life, love and the work environment. Perhaps our job is pissing us off in lumps and our instinct is to tell the boss “Take this job and shove it.” The Emperor warns us that this is never a good plan. A good plan is based on planning – perhaps stockpiling some money away so that should we decide that we’ve had enough, we won’t end up at the food bank. Scruples are necessary to life but so too, is eating.
Order is his watchword – perhaps the individual has too many pokers in the fire. He tells us to pull a few out and concentrate on one. Jack of all trades but master of none is not his purview. He is of the mind that if you choose a job, you do it properly, you do it well. You should never be ashamed to attach your name to it. He is security and structure. Stability and continuity. Responsibility and a trustworthy character, a courageous leader.
This card is the logical brain speaking when placed in a positive light; again, the interpretation is reliant upon the Emperor’s relationship with other cards in the spread.
The shadow or dark side of the Emperor is the authoritarian parent who brooks no argument, no compromise. He sees the world as being an attacking force on his, carefully, constructed existence and will fight to the death, even when, quite obviously, wrong. He can’t see the other side of the coin, particularly if it is of the emotional or creative bent. He can be despotic in his relationships to others. His logic, his linear line of being can become a prison. He is of closed mind.
He can represent a point of view – unbending, unable to compromise or “walk in someone else’s shoes.”
In a more creative interpretation – the Empress is the natural world, the tree hugger and the Emperor is necessary industry. They can work together but it takes much compromise and empathy from both.