Esoteric Tarot Course

Lesson 4

  • 78 Card Deck of your choice (required)
  •  Your Tarot Journal (required)
  •  “The Tarot Trumps and the Holy Grail,” by Margaret Starbird (buy if you can afford it)
  •  “Tarot Journeys,” by Yasmine Galenorn (buy if you can afford it)
  •  “Tarot in Ten Minutes” by RT Kaser (buy if you can afford it)

Supplies you will need:


3-The Empress

In this lesson we will be studying the Empress. This card is one of beauty and nurturance. This card is missing from the Gringonneur deck. In “The Tarot Trumps and the Holy Grail”, Margaret Starbird points out her gown is similar to gowns worn by Mary Magdalene in numerous medieval paintings. She states that the gold brocade is significant. According to Psalm 45, gold brocade is the raiment of the bride of the reigning sovereign: “All glorious is the king’s daughter as she enters; her raiment is threaded with spun gold. In embroidered apparel she is borne in to the king.” If you have this book read the section titled “The Empress” on page 26.

Go to your journal now and start a new page with the words ‘The Empress  —  3’ at the top. Take the Empress card out and look at it. Again you may want to step into this card and see if the Empress has any messages for you. What do you see on this card? See if any of the following are on the card: color, figures (both human and animal), shapes, landscape, vegetation, heavenly bodies and symbols.

Now write in your journal what this card is showing you. Be sure to do this before continuing with the lesson.



A woman reclines on a sumptuous red couch, a scepter in hand and crowned in stars. Foliage and a waterfall adorn the background, wheat at maturity spreads over the foreground. A heart shaped shield with a Venus symbol rest at the side of the couch.

T H E   S Y M B O L S

This card has the number 3 on it which symbolizes a trinity. The union of the 1 and the 2 to make a 3rd. The 3 is the number of creativity: creative expression, and the ultimate creative force – motherhood. The red of the Empress’s reclining couch and the white robe of purity with roses of red, represent lust, fertility and desire. The wheat is a symbol of fertility and life. The “grain-near-a-waterfall” motif was a Gnostic symbol of fertility later used by Freemasons to symbolize earth and sea fertility. The Empress is crowned with stars, and when counted with the stars at her necklace, the number is 21 — the precise amount of numbered Trumps, minus the questing Fool. Venus, the symbol of love and womanhood, is on the sofa and repeats again on the black cushion behind her. An Oak tree is the only standout behind her, a symbol of ancient truths. The pillows are orange which represent creativity, and the yellow sky shows illumination.


• fertility

• creativity

• growth

• new beginnings

• mothering influences

• fruition, repose

• luxuriousness

• love or self-love

• sometimes doubt


• over indulgence

• over smothering or over protectiveness

• lack of comfort

• struggles

• false companionship

• too much dependence on material comforts

• public rejoicing

• the unraveling of complicated matters

GUIDED MEDITATION:  If you have the book, “Tarot Journeys” by Yasmine Galenorn read the Meditation for The Empress starting on page 53. This is an excellent book and brimming over with insights. Notice, too, that it suggest using this meditation any time you need extra vision or energy for a creative project, or when you want to enhance your personal fertility or creativity.

Let’s Play a Game

This time we are going to add the Empress to the cards. So take out The Fool, The Magician, The High Priestess, and The Empress. Set the rest of your deck aside. Shuffle these cards. Fan them out in front of you keeping them face down. Now, pick one up. Don’t peek at the card. Feel this card’s energy. The more you practice this the easier it will become.

Reading The Tarot

Now that we know how to do tune-in reading we are going to learn how to do a Celtic Cross Reading. You need at least the 22 trumps and the 16 court cards. You can use the whole deck if you want. Shuffle and riffle the cards. Remember to concentrate on what you are asking the cards. You need to think about how you phrase the question. If someone says “I have a promotion if I move to Spokane, Washington. Should I move to Spokane or should I stay in Charlotte, North Carolina?” We can’t ask the cards this way so we need to rephrase the question. The simplest way to do this is to say something like “What will the outcome be if I move to Spokane, Washington?” or “What would the outcome be if I stay in Charlotte, North Carolina?”

Celtic Cross Reading




5 1-2 6




Let’s talk about the first card. There are different ways to do this. You can turn over the first card and lay it down in the #1 position. Or you can use the key card for the person being read. Remember in “Tarot in Ten Minutes” reading #1? If you need to refresh it starts on page 23. You can also use a significator. This is a trump card or a court card to represent the person. What sign are they born under? Which element would that sign represent? That is the suit you would use. Then would they be a King, Queen, Knight, or Princess?

Card 1: Your current situation.

Card 2: Influence, obstacles or challenge you face.

Card 3: Goal or destiny. What is possible.

Card 4: Distant past.

Card 5: Recent past.

Card 6: Near future.

Card 7: Your current attitude. The role you play.

Card 8: Outside influences or how others see you.

Card 9: Emotions, inner hopes and desires.

Card 10: Final result. Outcome.

Now let’s do two Celtic Cross readings on yourself. In the first reading you should ask a specific question. In the second, please do a life overview reading for yourself.

Specific Question:

Your Question for the Cards:


Write each position and the name of the card in that position.

Overall Life Reading:


Write each position and the name of the card in that position.

Email your answers to: with ‘Tarot 4 Celtic Cross Reading’ in the subject line.

Tarot In Ten Minutes

Now it’s time to get out your “Tarot in Ten Minutes”.

“Wands Are About Work”

Complete each of these readings.

  • Reading #6, What Is the Work Climate?”
  • Pages 53 to 62

Extra Credit

  • Reading #7, What Is the Business Outlook?”
  • Pages 63 to 66

Extra Credit

  • Reading #8, How Am I Doing At Work?”
  • Pages 67 to 78

Extra Credit


1. Describe the Empress card. Did she have anything to say to you? How close were your impressions to the standard meanings?

2. How are you doing on the game? Were you able to tell which card you were holding most of the time? Do you feel like you are becoming more in tune with the cards?

3. If someone asked you what type of occupation they should be in and drew the Empress card, what would you tell them?

4. How did you feel doing the Celtic Cross reading? Was it easy or difficult? Explain.

5. In the Celtic Cross Reading which position represent your dreams?

6. If we have a question about work which suit would we use?

Email your answers to: with ‘Tarot 4 Answers’ in the subject line.

Now try this spread.

The Empress Spread

This spread is useful in issues of family and friends, in helping you figure out the relationships you have to the people around you.

Shuffle the deck and lay out per the diagram above.

Card 1: This is your self, you alone.

Cards 2 and 3 represent your family (literal and figurative), the early influences that have made you what you are.

Card 2: This card represents how your family strengthens you, the positive things that have gone into you. Can be the aspects of yourself that are similar to the rest of your family, or how you fit in.

Card 3: This card represents conflicts with your family, where you don’t agree; things you just don’t see eye to eye. Can be differences between your family and you.

Cards 4 and 5 represent specific people you are dealing with in this situation, family or friends. Pick as many cards as you need here. You can be as specific here or as vague as you need: you can pick cards for specific people, or let the cards decide who is who.

Card 6: This card represents the opinions of others and how it affects you; can be approval or disapproval, or peer pressure.

Card 7: This card represents your view of things, your opinion and the way you see things, the direction you need to go whether they agree or disagree.

Read this article on the Empress Card and answer the following questions (by Sophie2U):

1) What is the Empress’s domain?

2) What essence does the Empress represent?

3) What is one of the most important aspects to remember when interpreting the Empress card?

4) What does the reversed position of the Empress card represent?

5) What symbols stick out for you in the Empress card?

Tarot Study Hall |  Mystery School | Top

Text of article in case it ever disappears from online.


By Cal Garrison

In the Rider-Waite Deck, The Empress is depicted as a beautiful, blonde,earth-mother — and there is no doubt that she is, indeed, ‘The Goddess’.Wearing a gown patterned with flowers that appear to be a cross between redroses and the Venus symbol, she sits upon a red-cushioned throne. The landscapethat fills up the rest of the image tells us that nature is her domain. Inthe background we see a forest of green trees against a yellow sky. On theright a blue stream flows out through the trees into a waterfall that appearsto be watering a field of wheat in the foreground. The Empress presides overthis scene. It is obvious that she is the queen of the natural world andeverything that emanates from it.

This idea is supported by the presence of a plaque that leans against theleft side of her throne. On its surface we see the Venus glyph. The symboltells us that The Empress has something to do with love in all its forms.While we can take this to mean that she is an emblem for romance, the imagerygoes much deeper than that.

In esoteric astrology Venus is considered to be the main control panel forthis solar system. It sources everything that manifests on the earthly plane.Love is the binding force that Venus employs to hold it all in place —even gravity and magnetism are emanations of love. So what first appearsto be a pretty picture of a beautiful woman in a bucolic setting is reallyan image of the universal life force, or the creative urge that lives andbreathes inside everything.

On her head The Empress wears a crown made up of twelve stars. Accordingto some interpreters the stars represent the twelve signs of the Zodiac.While this is the most obvious conclusion, it’s also quite possible thatthey symbolize different expressions of The Goddess — ‘She’ has morethan one face, after all. Diana, Aphrodite, Athena, Isis, Sekhmet, Astarte,Kali, Shakti, Hera, Lillith, Gaia, and Demeter — each one of thesearchetypes is different, but each one is an emblem for a specific type ofGoddess energy. We can’t fully understand The Empress until we accept thefact that the Goddess has multiple personalities.


When The Empress appears upright in a layout her essential creativity isthe first thing the reader needs to think about. Very often she is thereto say, ‘nurture your creative gifts’, and it is usually the case that thequerent has talents or artistic abilities that they need to develop and bringto fruition. But her creative energy can also translate in its most literalsense, and it’s not uncommon for The Empress to show up to announce a pregnancy.

This card is also a strong indication of domestic harmony, happy relationships,and a warm, comfortable environment. There can be a general sense of innerand outer security, and an overall feeling of well being. The things thatmake us feel at peace with our selves and life are intangible and often fleeting,but when the querent is blessed in that way there is usually an awarenessof how fortunate they are. If you’re reading for someone and you sense thatthis aspect of The Empress is at the forefront, all you have to say is, ‘countyour blessings and be grateful for them. Times like this are precious’.

There is always a sexual element with this card. Unlike The High Priestesswhose sexuality leans more toward the sacred, The Empress holds space forthe earthier expression of that impulse. She tells us to enjoy ourselves,to revel in our physicality, and to experience more fully the sheer joy ofsex. In her upright position she is saying, ‘this part of our lives is asimportant and needs to be nurtured as much as everything else we do. Ourwholeness depends on it’.

As an emblem for the Great Earth Mother, it is impossible to read this cardwithout considering the idea of ‘mothering’. Sometimes The Empress showsup to say that we need to spend more time nurturing our selves and/or thoseclose to us. This can apply to situations as well as people. There are timeswhen we wonder whether we need to keep feeding a particular state of affairsor if it would be better to back off. The upright Empress is a signal thatthe situation requires more nourishment and that it won’t bear fruit unlesswe continue to fertilize it with more care and attention.

The image of the beautiful, blonde goddess can mislead us into thinking thatThe Empress is a benign, totally receptive, acquiescent creature. While shedoes at times express her self in that why she is by no means limited onlyto it — every face of the Goddess belongs to this card and any one ofthem may need expression at any given time. Part of interpreting The Empressinvolves knowing which aspect of the Goddess is in the driver’s seat.

Lillith’s rage at being subverted may be unacceptable to us, but her screechesand her refusal to be subservient have their place and are as appropriatein some situations as Aphrodite’s desire to love and be loved is in others.And Kali’s destructive force needs to be called up at times when ‘the Motherin us’ needs to be strong enough to terminate a pregnancy, or take someoneoff life support. Hera’s face may come to the surface every now and thenjust to remind everyone that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander— but if it’s Diana’s turn to express her self, the idea of equalityin relationships becomes totally irrelevant because that aspect of the Goddessdoesn’t even want a partner! Reading The Empress accurately requires notonly a thorough understanding of all of the feminine archetypes, it alsoinvolves having the ability to tell the querent which one is presenting itself based on the rest of the imagery in the layout.

In her reversed position The Empress suggests that the querent is involvedin a situation where they are being either overly nurturing or overly dependent.Someone’s ‘need factor’ has gone over the top. In the overly nurturing scenario,when we decide to take care of people the choice is usually made out of love— but if in our efforts to support others they become dependent on us,it’s not good for anyone.

Telling someone that they need to stop babying a loved one is often met witha pile of excuses as to why it’s impossible for them to alter their behavior.There’s always an underlying issue here and it isn’t about ‘the baby’ —it’s about the querent and their need to be needed. Once you explain to themthat what they are doing is serving their interests and actually weakeningthe person they have come to feel so responsible for, they usually get thepicture.

In the overly dependent scenario, the reversed Empress can represent theidea that the querent is expecting life or others to take care of them. TheWelfare cheat, the kept woman, the ‘Toy Boy’, the man who at 40 still livesat home with Mommy (or some semblance of her) and relies on her to feed andclothe him — anyone whose lack of personal strength makes it impossiblefor them to put out any effort on their own behalf, can be sitting in frontof you when the reversed Empress shows up. Talking to them is usually anexercise in futility. After all, they think they have it made. The only wayyou can pry their eyes open is to ask them how fulfilling it feels to maintaintheir position and point out that they might as well be living in a playpen. If they want to grow and evolve they need to get a grip on their dependencyissues.

The healthy form of sexual energy that The Empress expresses so naturallyin her upright position gets twisted and exaggerated in a negative way whenshe’s reversed. Sex without love, sex used as a substitute for nurturance,promiscuity in all its forms — all of these behaviors exist as possibilitieswhen this card shows its dark side. They surface as symptoms of what isessentially a deep sense of loneliness and disconnection from life. If thequerent is too reserved to discuss their sex-capades you can address theissue by just saying that, ‘it would help you to remember who you are. Havemore respect for your life force and know that you are never alone. Go outinto nature and talk to God. This will remind you what you are connectedto’.

The reversed Empress can also show up when the querent has suffered enoughtrial and tribulation to warrant feelings of bitterness and doubt. Derailedby adversity they have lost touch with their joy and their sense of safetyin the world. As the reader, if you sense this is what’s going on, you canpoint out to them that the path to enlightenment and Truth is paved withdisillusionment. In cases like this the message is, ‘it’s time to grow up.Stop whining about your shattered illusions and try to figure out what allof this heartache is teaching you’.

Every face of the Goddess gets distorted when The Empress is reversed. Hermultiple personalities show up as whatever corresponds to their ‘Evil Twin’.Instead of expressing as a free-spirited woman, Diana becomes a rabid, femalechauvinist. Hera forgets about equal rights and turns into a domineeringfishwife. Kali’s destructive force goes haywire. She becomes a loose cannonwho maintains control by destroying everything in sight. Lillith gets revengefulto the extreme and uses third-party interference to seed scenarios of jealousyand competition — and Aphrodite morphs into a lazy, good for nothingparasite who plays off her looks and uses sex to get what she wants. Identifyingwhich ‘bitch’ is expressing her self requires a lot of tact and a well-roundedknowledge of each archetype. The rest of the cards in the spread and thedialogue you establish with the querent will help you to determine, ‘whichwitch is which’.

Most of the tarot literature does not address the deeper meanings of TheEmpress. My experience has shown me that she is much more the just a prettyface or a bland symbol for domestic bliss. In these times of change, as thepower of the female re-emerges to wake us up, her image calls us to understandmore about the true nature of creativity, the importance of trust, harmony,and peace, the essence of ‘mothering’ in all its forms, and the many facesof the Goddess. The Empress lives inside each one of us. Plumbing her depthsand allowing our experience to reveal every aspect of her expression in ourlives will teach all of us what we have yet to discover about both the darkand the light side of the Divine Feminine.

About Cal Garrison Cal Garrison

Cal is a writer with four books to her credit. ‘The Old Girls’Book of Spells’, ‘The Old Girls’ Book of Dreams’, andher latest book, ‘Witch On the Go’ were published by RedWheel/WeiserPress and are available in bookstores or on In addition to herown work, she also writes for Slim Spurling. Her first book with Slim,‘Slim Spurling’s Universe’ is being followed up by their secondbook together which, with any luck, will be out in 2008—2009.

A professional astrologer with 35 years experience Cal has cast over 6000charts and is one of the best in her field. She is also an expert on theTarot. When she’s not running the Spirit of Ma’at office, or workingon her books, Cal spends her time doing in depth astrology and tarot readingsfor people all over the country.

Tarot Study HallMystery School |Top