Tarot: The Empress

The Empress

Tarot: The Empress

The Empress card embodies bountiful creation, success, and enjoying the fruits of your labor. Seeds of love, fertile ground, and gentle guidance have allowed you to manifest your greatest desires. Use this plentiful harvest to nurture and enrich the lives of those around you.

The Empress shares her wisdom freely and understands that the true nature of leadership means empowering others, rather than fostering dependence. The third card of the Major Arcana connects you to the regenerative quality of the earth and nature’s abundance. This card appears when it’s time to connect with gratitude, generosity, and the power of creation.

The Empress Reversed

The Empress reversed in a tarot reading symbolizes a temporary disruption in nurturing and creative energies. It may suggest a period of neglect, whether in self-care or in relationships, leading to potential stagnation or disharmony. This card encourages you to reevaluating your priorities, address emotional imbalances, and tend to the neglected aspects of your life. While this card position signifies challenges, it also represents an opportunity to restore equilibrium and rediscover the abundant, nurturing qualities within.


“I am a powerful, nourishing, and creative force. I embrace the fertile energy of the natural world to cultivate abundance for myself and others.”

Major Arcana Symbolism

Tarot Card NameThe Empress
Traditional Card ImageryA seated woman in regal attire
Traditional SymbolismIsis Unveiled, creativity, nature or the material world, the mother, sensuality
Card NumberIII, 3
Classical ElementEarth
Influencing ElementAir
Traditional Upright MeaningDivine feminine, nurturing, abundance, love, beauty, motherhood, nature, sensuality, fertility, creativity
Traditional Reversed MeaningCreative block, overbearing, negligence, smothering, nosiness, dependence, emptiness, insecurity, lack of growth, lack of progress
Archetype In NatureThe natural world as source, surrounding, inspiration, and landscape
Astrological CorrespondenceVenus, Taurus, Libra
Yes or NoYes
Crystals and StonesEmerald, Olivine, Moldavite, Fluorite, Peridot, Aventurine, Morganite, Zoisite, Bloodstone, Rose Quartz, Chrysolite, Pink Calcite, Jade, Prehnite, Pink Spinel, Malachite, Unakite, Rhodonite
Tarot: The Empress

Tarot Through the Ages

Tarot was originally invented as a card game in the mid 15th century. French occultist Jean-Baptiste Alliette, also known as “Etteilla”, was the first to assign divinatory meanings to the cards in the late 1700s. Many others have followed in his footsteps, bringing their own unique interpretation of the cards. In our exploration of the Tarot, we weave together contemporary insights with the timeless wisdom of the past. This blending of past and present perspectives offers a more holistic view, allowing us to connect with the evolving narrative and lineage of wisdom that has shaped our understanding of each card over time. Let’s dive into some of these historical interpretations…

Allegory of The Empress

I felt the breath of the spring, and accompanying the fragrance of violets and lilies-of-the-valley I heard the tender singing of elves. Rivulets murmured, the treetops rustled, the grasses whispered, innumerable birds sang in choruses and bees hummed; everywhere I felt the breathing of joyful, living Nature.

The sun shone tenderly and softly and a little white cloud hung over the woods.

In the midst of a green meadow where primroses bloomed, I saw the Empress seated on a throne covered with ivy and lilacs. A green wreath adorned her golden hair and, above her head, shone twelve stars. Behind her rose two snowy wings and in her hands she held a sceptre. All around, beneath the sweet smile of the Empress, flowers and buds opened their dewy, green leaves. Her whole dress was covered with them as though each newly opened flower were reflected in it or had engraved itself thereon and thus become part of her garment.

The sign of Venus, the goddess of love, was chiseled on her marble throne.

“Queen of life,” I said, “why is it so bright and joyful all about you? Do you not know of the grey, weary autumn, of the cold, white winter? Do you not know of death and graveyards with black graves, damp and cold? How can you smile so joyfully on the opening flowers, when everything is destined to death, even that which has not yet been born?”

For answer the Empress looked on me still smiling and, under the influence of that smile, I suddenly felt a flower of some clear understanding open in my heart.

-The Symbolism of the Tarot by P.D. Ouspensky (1913)

The Empress (III)

The Empress (III)

The Empress is the inferior Garden of Eden, the Earthly Paradise, all that is symbolized by the visible house of man. She is the fruitful mother of thousands. Aspects of The Empress have been described as desire, the woman clothed with the sun, as the transitory delights of the world and the veil of the divine realm.

She is above all things universal fertility and the outer sense of the Word. There is no direct message given to man like that which is conveyed by woman; but she does not, herself, carry its interpretation. The card of the Empress can also being interpreted in another way: She signifies the door or gate by which an entrance is obtained into this life, as into the Garden of Venus.

The Empress symbolizes the way that leads out of this life, into that which is beyond. The secret knowledge of the High Priestess is communicated by The Empress to the chosen few. She is the imparter of divine knowledge.

-Modern Translation of The Pictorial Key to the Tarot by A.E. Waite (1910)

The Empress Card Imagery

A seated woman appears on The Empress card. Dignified, and clothed in royal robes, she is a daughter of heaven and earth. Her sovereign crown is made of twelve stars gathered in a cluster. The symbol of Venus is emblazoned on the shield at her side. A field of corn is ripening in front of her, and beyond there is a waterfall. Her scepter is topped by the globe of this world.

The Empress often appears in full face, while her correspondence, the Emperor, is in profile. There has been a tendency to ascribe a symbolical significance to this distinction, but I do not believe this detail carries any inner meaning. The Empress has been connected with the ideas of universal fertility and in a general sense with fruitful activity.

-Modern Translation of The Pictorial Key to the Tarot by A.E. Waite (1910)

The Empress Meaning

The Empress Meaning

A woman seen full face. The human being becomes corporeal in the womb of a woman. This woman is represented with wings, or in the center of a radiating sun. The idea of the spirituality of the animating force of all beings. She holds an eagle in her right hand. The eagle is the symbol of the soul and of life (Holy Spirit). In the left hand she bears a scepter forming the astrological sign of Venus.

The scepter is held in the left hand to indicate the passive influence, which Nature, Venus-Urania, or the woman exercises in the generation of beings. She wears a crown with twelve points, or twelve stars. This represents the diffusion of the animating force throughout all the worlds, the sun, and the Zodiac.

-Modern Translation of The Tarot of The Bohemians by Papus (1892)

Significations of The Empress

  • Equilibrium of the Father and of the Son = God the Holy Ghost, Horus, The Universal Vivifying Force
  • Equilibrium of Adam-Eve = Adam-Eve, Humanity
  • Equilibrium of Natura Naturans and of Natura Naturata = The World

-Tarot of The Bohemians by Papus (1892)

The Empress Card

The Empress Card

The Meaning of the Empress Card Throughout History

The Tarot deck is a beautiful synthesis of esoteric thought and archetypal imagery. The journey of the deck, shaped by the events and values of each era, has continued to evolve and take on new significance as it adapts to a larger cultural story. Often a tarot card will have a variety of names and meanings. Exploring the historical interpretations of each card will create a deeper understanding of this powerful method for divination and self-discovery.

Various Names for the Empress Card

Tarot de Marseille (1650)The Empress
Court de Gébelin (1781)The Queen
Etteilla (1783)Night / Day
Paul Christian (1870) Isis-Urania
Golden Dawn (1888)The Daughter of the Mighty Ones
Papus (1892)The Empress
Rider-Waite (1910)The Empress
Thoth (1943)The Empress
The Daughter of the Mighty Ones

Card III: The Empress

A winged and crowned woman seated upon a throne, having in one hand a sceptre bearing a globe surmounted by a cross, while she rests the other upon a shield with an eagle blazoned therein on whose breast is the cross. She is the Symbol of Action, the result of the union of Science and Will.

Upright: Action, Plan, Undertaking Movement in a matter, Initiative
Reversed: Inaction, Frittering away of power, Want of Concentration Vacillation

-The Tarot by S.L. MacGregor Mathers (1888)

Support Independent Bookstores With These Tarot Selections

Support Independent Bookstores With These Tarot Selections

Bookshop is an online bookstore with a mission to financially support local, independent bookstores. Their mission aims to strengthen the fragile ecosystem and keep local bookstores an integral part of our culture and communities. We have put together a collection of some of our favorite Tarot items. The deep symbolism of the Tarot can be used to access a wellspring of inner wisdom and guidance. This method of divination is also an incredible tool for accessing your own powerful intuition.

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The Pictorial Key to the Tarot

The Empress (III) - The Illustrated Key to the Tarot published 1918, public domain
The Empress (III) – The Illustrated Key to the Tarot published 1918, public domain

This guide by Arthur Edward Waite, the designer of the most widely known Tarot deck and distinguished scholar of the Kabbalah, is the essential Tarot reference. The pictorial key contains a detailed description of each card in the celebrated 78-card Rider-Waite Tarot deck, along with regular and reversed meanings. Contents describe symbols and secret tradition, ancient Celtic methods of divination, and wonderful illustrations of each Tarot card. This book is the perfect complement to old-style fortune telling and also serves to make the Tarot entirely accessible to modern-day readers. The Pictorial Key to the Tarot is the classic guide to the Rider-Waite deck and to Tarot symbolism in general.

Crystal Tarot

The Empress (III) - Crystal Tarot by Elisabetta Tervisan © 2001 Lo Scarabeo srl. All rights reserved, used by permission.
The Empress (III) – Crystal Tarot by Elisabetta Tervisan © 2001 Lo Scarabeo srl. All rights reserved, used by permission.

As rich and complex as life itself, the Crystal Tarot blends the look of stained glass with art nouveau style to gracious effect. The use of patterns within patterns gives depth to the traditional pictures of the Tarot. Influenced by both the Rider-Waite and Thoth Tarot decks, this modern Tarot is an exquisite blend of the old and the new. The familiar images are all there, while the details–executed in brilliant and unusual colors–invite viewers to linger, to search, to make sure they miss nothing–an effective trait in a tool of self-examination.

Tarot Art Nouveau

The Empress (III) - Tarot Art Nouveau by Lo Scarabeo © 2000 Lo Scarabeo srl. All rights reserved, used by permission.
The Empress (III) – Tarot Art Nouveau by Lo Scarabeo © 2000 Lo Scarabeo srl. All rights reserved, used by permission.

These cards are alive with movement. The delicate curves, sweeping lines, and bright yet gentle colors all serve to draw the mind into the imagery of each card. These cards effortlessly weave a story and there is plenty of beauty for the eye to feast on. Tarot Art Nouveau is a work of art and serves as a powerful divinatory tool.

How will you Harness The Transformative Power of The Tarot?

We invite you to walk into a cosmic narrative in which we are all a unique element in each other’s story. Humanity has long used sacred tools for awakening the soul and illuminating our path toward enlightenment. The Tarot is simply an instrument. These cards amplify your inner wisdom and empower your highest truth.

What aspects of The Tarot can serve you as you walk through your own Mystic Doorway?

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What you have read is only the beginning…

Mystic Doorway is always gaining new insight into the rich symbolism of Tarot. We are looking forward to sharing with you as we continue to expand our knowledge of this divinatory tool. Check back with us soon to see what we’ve added to our Library.