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Pulled The Emperor In A Tarot Reading? Here's What To Know

Sarah Regan
March 8, 2023
Sarah Regan
mbg Spirituality & Relationships Editor
By Sarah Regan
mbg Spirituality & Relationships Editor
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, and a registered yoga instructor. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from SUNY Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.
Image by mbg creative
March 8, 2023
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Tarot readings can give us insight into the past, present, and even future—so long as we know what the cards mean. In the case of the Emperor, it's the fourth Major Arcana card in a traditional tarot deck, and it relates to power, authority, and influence.

Pulled it in a reading? Here's everything to know about the Emperor card in life, love, and more.

What does the Emperor card mean?

Generally speaking, the Emperor card is all about leadership, power, authority, and success in the material world, according to author of The Modern Witchcraft Book of Tarot Skye Alexander.

The Emperor is the fourth card of the Major Arcana, with these cards being particularly complex and significant. Their appearance will often influence the entire reading, so if you pull one or more Major Arcana cards in a multi-card pull, you'll want to pay close attention.

In the case of the Emperor, Alexander tells mindbodygreen that artists often depict him as a mature man seated on a throne, or as a soldier bearing a shield and sword. "He's a symbol of responsibility, intelligence, and courage," she explains, adding that this card can sometimes represent a real person in your life.

"If he's an actual person," she says, "he may be a corporate executive, a political leader, or a respected warrior in the military or another arena. He also represents the archetypal father figure."

Emperor keywords:

  • Leadership
  • Power
  • Authority
  • Influence
  • Material success
  • Responsibility
  • Intelligence
  • Father figure

What does it mean for love & relationships?

When pulled upright:

If you pulled the Emperor upright in a reading about love or your relationship, Alexander says it can indicate a person who is strong, protective, and responsible toward loved ones "but who tends to be rather cold or detached emotionally."

She notes this person may think that showing their feelings is a sign of weakness. "He likes to be in control and may prefer a traditional structure in his personal/family life, where male-female roles are clearly defined and he's the head of the household," she explains.

When pulled in reverse:

When pulled in reverse, Alexander notes the Emperor in a love reading can describe someone who is immature in their attitudes about love and relationships or who has trouble with commitments or loyalty.  

What does it mean for professional & financial matters?

When pulled upright:

If the Emperor appears upright in a reading about your career or finances, Alexander notes he's showing up to remind you that you have the skills and determination necessary to achieve your goals.

"It’s a good sign of success," she explains, adding that it can also signify that you have the ability to lead others, and can head up a project, captain your team to a big win, or produce something of lasting value. And even if you're not the boss right now, "the Emperor may urge you to play a bigger role in your workplace or to strike out on your own," Alexander notes.

When pulled in reverse:

In reverse, according to Alexander, the Emperor in a career or money reading suggests you may not have the knowledge, training, or confidence to accomplish your objectives at this time or to handle the challenges you're facing. "He cautions against going forward with big investments that may not be stable or profitable," she adds.

What does it mean for challenges ahead?

When pulled upright:

Sometimes we'll ask our tarot cards about a challenge we're currently facing or may face going forward. The Emperor upright in this case indicates you're more than able to handle the challenges facing you.

"Rely on yourself and your own knowledge and skills rather than deferring to others," Alexander suggests, noting that you may have to work hard and take on extra responsibilities—or step up to the plate and assume a leadership role in order to overcome obstacles.

But the good news is, the Emperor is encouraging you and reminding you that you can do it. "Success may depend on establishing a firm structure and following traditional methods rather than trying something new," Alexander adds.

When pulled in reverse:

In reverse in a reading about challenges, the Emperor suggests you may be conflicted about a situation—or feel at odds with the status quo—Alexander tells mindbodygreen.

In this case, "Indecisiveness or fear of failure can block your success or leave you vulnerable to adversaries," she says, adding that sometimes this card also shows losses due to inadequacy, vacillation, lack of imagination, or stubbornness.


What is the Emperor card in relationships?

The Emperor in the context of love and relationships can relate to an actual person who may be less emotionally expressive and more traditional but protective and stable nonetheless.

Is the Emperor a good card?

The interpretation of cards largely depends on the context of the reading, but yes, generally speaking, the Emperor is a "good" card that represents power, authority, and influence.

What is the Emperor personality?

The personality of the Emperor card is an authoritative and influential figure, often male but not always. This card represents someone who prefers structure, tradition, and material success.

The takeaway.

How you interpret the Emperor card will largely depend on the context of the reading, but generally speaking, this figure is all about authority, success, and leadership. So when you pull it, if nothing else, consider it an invitation to take the lead.

Sarah Regan author page.
Sarah Regan
mbg Spirituality & Relationships Editor

Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, a registered yoga instructor, and an avid astrologer and tarot reader. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from State University of New York at Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.