The Empress is the fourth card in the tarot deck's Major Arcana. The number associated with her is three, as at her core level she is the point at which the sequence of the tarot begins to deal with the relationship between the spirit, mind, and body. The Empress herself can be said to represent the last of these three - the body, as well as the world of the physical at large.
As a matter of fact, we can go one step further than saying that the Empress represents the physical world. In many ways she actually is this very world and all that makes it what it is. She is wealth, sensory pleasure, and prosperity in all their many forms as well. The world she lives in is our world exactly as it was meant to be - ideal, beautiful, and bountiful. As such, she is also said to be a representation of motherhood, nature and the creation of life. She is, quite simply, abundance in all its many forms.
The figure of the Empress is traditionally portrayed as a young, beautiful woman reclining in a natural setting that is the very picture of the fruitful earth she is meant to represent. Her attire is regal in nature - very much the vestment of an Empress - and includes richly embroidered robes, a diadem, and a scepter. Next to her couch rests a shield bearing the symbol of Venus, highlighting her connection to the concepts of desire and love. Behind her, a field full of corn is ripening and becoming golden in the sun while a waterfall flows in the distance to represent fertility and life force. In some tarot representations, the Empress is also very appropriately depicted as pregnant.
The Empress is often described as someone who derives her royal status through being the daughter of Heaven and Earth and all of the symbols included in her tarot portrayal support this. She is the very heartbeat of the earth and of all life. She is the divine potential represented by the cards that came before made real and tangible.
When the Empress makes an appearance in a tarot spread, she is relatively easy to interpret. When representing someone other than the querent, she is almost always going to stand for a mother figure. If she's not the actual mother, then she is very likely someone who plays a similar role for the querent in one way or another. If the Empress is situated in such a way that she represents the querent herself, then it should be taken to mean that she is at a point in her life when she's feeling somewhat maternal, although this does not have to be in a traditional sense that revolves around children. She may also be feeling protective or "motherly" in regards to a new business venture or a new relationship.
When the Empress decides to make an appearance, the message she sends is to take into consideration all the lessons that she teaches. Whether the situation in question involves a new business, a life change, or an actual baby, the Empress reminds us - whether we're male or female - that if it is to thrive, it must be cared for, tended carefully, and nurtured until it reaches that next stage. However, it's also important to note that it's perfectly possible to be too protective. Too much care, attention, and nurturing could smother the potential of the project in question before it ever has a chance to realize its potential.
Lisa Ray is the creator of the Ultimate Tarot Trainer, an easy-to-use software program that helps beginners learn to read tarot cards.
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