Esoteric Tarot Lesson 5 — The Emperor

Supplies you will need:

  • 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)

4-The Emperor

Now it’s time to look at the Emperor. This card is the first card in the traditional sequence that has survived in the Gringonneur pack according to Margaret Starbird. He holds the scepter and the orb of his exalted office and two pages kneel beside his throne. In “The Tarot Trumps and the Holy Grail”, Margaret Starbird states “The usual number given this trump is four, which is ironic if these trumps were a catechism of the Grail faith. Read the chapter on pages 26 and 27 titled The Emperor. If you do not have this book let me know and I will get it to you. Be sure to look at the picture of the Emperor in her book.

Go to your journal now and start a new page with the word The Emperor at the top. Write beside the word The Emperor the number 4. Take the Emperor card out and look at it. Again you may want to step into this card and see if the Emperor has any messages for you. Be sure to write everything down in your journal. What do you feel, hear, or things that just pop into your head. This is great practice for your intuition. 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 in your journal write down what this card is showing you. Be sure to do this before continuing with the lesson.



The regal Emperor sits on his throne wearing the emblems of war (ram’s head and the planet Mars), with the Egyptian ankh in his right hand and the globe of dominion in his left. Everything about this card suggests power and authority, from his determined visage to his suit of armor. Behind him are mountains, pillars of strength, and his red robes and purple throne are the colors reserved for royalty.

T H E    S Y M B O L S

This card has the number 4. The number 4 symbolizes establishments, foundations, and stability. The Emperor is an appropriate card for the 4, which is about establishing a foundation for the self by setting boundaries, rules, and order. The beard is an ancient symbol of wisdom and endurance, the qualities of a great leader. The Emperor’s crown is reminiscent of a military helmet, linking him with Mars, the god of war.

In the Symbolism of The Tarot, P.D. Ouspensky writes:

Card IV

The Emperor

After I learned the first three numbers I was given to understand the Great Law of Four – the alpha and the omega of all.

I saw the Emperor on a lofty stone throne, ornamented by four rams’ heads. On his forehead shone a golden helmet. His white beard fell over a purple mantle. In one hand he held a sphere, the symbol of his possession, and in the other, a scepter in the form of an Egyptian cross – the sign of his power over birth.

“I am The Great Law”, the Emperor said. “I am the name of God.” The four letters of his name are in me and I am in all.

“I am the four principles. I am in the four elements. I am in the four seasons. I am in the four cardinal points. I am in the four signs of the Tarot.

I am the beginning; I am action; I am completion; I am result.

For him who knows how to see me there are no mysteries on earth.

I am the great Pentacle.

As the earth encloses in itself fire, water and air; as the fourth letter of the Name encloses in itself the first three and becomes itself the first, so my scepter encloses the complete triangle and bears in itself the seed of a new triangle.

I am Logos in the full aspect and the beginning of a new Logos.

And while the Emperor spoke, his helmet shone brighter and brighter, and his golden armor gleamed beneath his mantle. I could not bear his glory and I lowered my eyes.

When I tried to lift them again a vivid light of radiant fire was before me, and I prostrated myself and made obeisance to the Fiery Word.


  • Leadership
  • Problem solving
  • Male energy
  • LogicStrategic planning


  • Egocentricity
  • A need to dominate
  • Fixed opinions
  • Immaturity
  • Obsession with fame and fortune


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GUIDED MEDITATION: If you have the book, “Tarot Journeys” by Yasmine Galenorn read the Meditation for The Emperor starting on page 61. This is an excellent book and brimming over with insights. Notice too that it suggest using this meditation any time we need to empower our sense of self-assertion and self-confidence. Be sure to choose one of the exercises to do.

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Let’s Play a Game

Take out the Empress and the Emperor from your deck. Set the rest of your deck aside. Shuffle these cards. Place them in front of you keeping them face down. Hold your hands over it one. Feel this card’s energy. Which is female or male. Which is logical or intuitive. The more you practice this the easier it will become.

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Tarot In Ten Minutes

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

“Cups Are About Love and Emotions”

Complete each of the following readings.

Reading #9, How Do I Get Along With Others?”

Pages 79 to 84

Do Extra Credit

Reading #10, How’s My Love Life?”

Pages 86 to 94

Do Extra Credit

Reading #11, How Will This Relationship Turn Out?”

Pages 96 to 106

Do Extra Credit

Lesson Questions:

1. Describe the Emperor card. Did he 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? How did the female energy feel? How did the male energy feel?

3. What type of person would you use the Emperor to represent?

4. If we have a question about love which suit would we use?

5. After reading the chapter “The Emperor” in the book “The Tarot Trumps and the Holy Grail”, write a couple of paragraphs giving your take on it.

Email your answers to: The Mystery School with Tarot 5 Answers in the subject line.

Now try this spread.

Emperor’s Spread

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

The Emperor’s Spread is a general spread for looking at your situation, goals, maintenance, and general upkeep of your life.

Shuffle the deck and lay out the cards per the diagram above, face down, turning them over as you go.

Card 1: This card represents you in command, how you go about things.

Card 2: This card represents things you can control.

Card 3: This card represents things you can’t control.

Card 4: These are things to discard, situations or attitudes that no longer serve you.

Card 5: This card represents things to keep in a modified form, things to prune.

Card 6: These are things that need maintaining.

Card 7: This is the result or goal you would like to reach, your ideal ordered situation or world, or, where this is headed.

Card 8: This card represents an unexpected result, unforeseen or secondary consequences, something to be aware of.

Card 9: This card represents your willpower, your desire for this thing, which can overcome the odds.

Tarot Study Hall |  Mystery School