Tarot: The Empress Picture

The Empress is a creator, be it creation of life, of romance, of art or business. While the Magician is the primal spark, the idea made real, and the High Priestess is the one who gives the idea a form, the Empress is the womb where it gestates and grows till it is ready to be born. This is why her symbol is Venus, goddess of beautiful things as well as love. Even so, the Empress is more Demeter, goddess of abundance, then sensual Venus. She is the giver of Earthly gifts, yet at the same time, she can, in anger withhold, as Demeter did when her daughter, Persephone, was kidnapped. In fury and grief, she kept the Earth barren till her child was returned to her.

The Empress has had a rather uneventful five centuries. Waite and other occultists are responsible for the starry crown, the emblem of Venus, the waterfall, and the vegetation and wildlife. The Hermitage informs us that in historical decks the Empress sits on a throne, almost always holding a shield or orb in one hand and a scepter in the other. The shield typically

bears an eagle as the heraldic emblem of the Holy Roman Empire.

The Empress may also represent the Object of Desire. Most obviously, the love of the beloved, the love and approval of parents, especially (but not solely) mothers. While this may be healthy, over attachment to the object (or to the idea of the object) can be a danger sign.

If the Empress is the Object of Desire, the Hanged Man (or a Hanged Man substitute from the Minor Arcana) is the one who desires. This can inspire Great Works, or trap the Querant in pathology. Attachment can lead to death, metaphorically or otherwise. When The Empress kills (again, metaphorically or otherwise), it is usually by consuming, suffocating, or poisoning.

My own imagery stems from a fleeting reference to Chinese mythology gained from my model for this card. The interpretation here is much closer to my intuitions on this card.

Guanyin (Quan Yin) is the bodhisattva of compassion as venerated by East Asian Buddhists, usually as a female. She is also known as the Chinese Bodhisattva of Compassion. The name Guanyin is short for Guanshi'yin) which means "Observing the Sounds (or Cries) of the World".

It is generally accepted that Guanyin originated as the Sanskrit Avalokiteśvara, (which is her male form). Commonly known in the West as the Goddess of Mercy, Guanyin is also revered by Chinese Taoists as an Immortal.

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Tarot: The Empress
Blargharath 10-6-09