The Emperor Tarot Card Meanings


4 is the number of The Emperor.  4 is a number a number of a trustworthy traditionalist.  The energy of the 4 prefers its solitude but is capable of defending its territory when needed. A benefit of the 4 is the ability to channel creative energy into a stable structure. Often times this number shows up as a sign of working hard and keeping an attention to detail!.  The bottom line about the numerology of the number 4 is its focus on hard work and accomplishment.


Often times the Emperor tarot card has 4 rams heads which obviously reflect the number of the card as well as a symbol for Aries, the Astrological sign of the card. In the right hand is the ankh, an Egyptian symbol of rebirth and virility. Its position in the right hand represents those qualities being offered to the seeker.  Resting on the other hand is a golden apple which represents receiving love and sexuality. Finally, we turn our attention to the armor which shows strength, defense and action. 

Upright Meaning of the Emperor

While many typically take this card at face value and say it depicts a powerful man, this is a very narrow interpretation.  Usually what this card is showing is strength, power and structure which are associated with male energy. This energy isn’t relative to any specific gender but is inherent in all living things. Other meanings of this card include emotional stability, self confidence and ambition.  A few of the potentially less appealing aspects of this card are its need for conformity and sometimes rigid focus on structure.

Reverse Meaning of the Emperor

When you get a reversal of this card it shows someone who has become power hungry.  As opposed to the gentle leadership of a virtuous character the energy shifts to that of a tyrant, dictator or despot.  These characteristics are often behavior that is domineering, controlling and at times even cruel. The bottom line on the reversal is ego fueled control by fear or force.

Self Reflection

The Emperor is asking you to consider the following questions:

  • Where can I benefit from more structure?
  • What is the benefit of doing so?
  • How can I show more confidence?
  • Who can I help with benevolent guidance?

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