Befriending the Emperor

I've never taken too kindly to the Emperor card. The sixth card in the Major Arcana, the Emperor represents masculinity, authority, structure, and paternalism-- in many ways it's the "father" card. Structure and authority aren't my favorite things, and I'm super into the feminine, so I've never made friends with this card before.

But Thursday morning, as I exhaustedly tried to get through an overwhelming week, I stopped at my altar before heading out the door and drew this card. I hadn't paid attention to the Emperor of the Fountain Tarot before, and I was surprised at how powerful it was and how strongly I connected to it in that moment.


In the Fountain Tarot's Emperor, we see a lone figure lifting a cube, performing a feat of strength (or that's how I read it, anyway). Unlike the classic Rider-Waite imagery, this Emperor isn't an old man sitting in a chair; the element of paternalism is gone. Rather, he's vital and strong, perhaps even heroic. The Fountain Tarot does keep the fiery coloring of the traditional card; it nods to the fiery masculine energy with its beautiful dark-red background. Usually I'm a water lady, but this deep rich red spoke to me-- it reminded me of the fiery energy I possess, even while tired. The word fortitude came into my mind. I'm tired, but I have fortitude.


The previous night, I'd had a dream where I was looking in a mirror and saw all the blue blood rushing through my veins. I felt weak, like I might fall over and faint, as I watched the blood swirl through me, but I knew that I wouldn't fall. I knew the blood was strong enough to keep me standing straight, no matter how weak I felt. I could literally see the reserves of strength coursing through me, keeping me from falling. I thought, in the dream, this is real. I can see this.

I took that feeling with me through my long day on Thursday, especially in the evening when I had to meet parents and speak at Parent Night (this is my first year teaching in a classroom). I was overwhelmed and exhausted, with a cold coming on, and had no idea how I'd find the strength to stand up for the evening and make a good impression on parents. 

And yet, somehow, I did. I remembered the image of blood fortifying me in my dream, and I remembered the image of fortitude on the Emperor card. I remembered that I have reserves of strength, that I have ample solidity to call when I need it. Even when overwhelm makes me feel like a wispy, wilting dandelion, I can instead tap into that fiery strength, the fortitude of the Emperor standing tall and strong, performing feats of strength. 

And I did.