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Jolanda / Swedish Witch Tarot - The Emperor IV

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Jolanda / Swedish Witch Tarot - The Emperor IV


The Emperor sits on his throne and he looks to be wearing a long garment on his lower half like The Empress, only his has fewer bees and lotus flowers. If his shield and the ram is part of his throne, obscuring it (shield) or is behind it (ram) is a little unclear at the moment, but they do echo the Thoth image.

I do like the mountains in the background - 4 is considered a very solid and stable number (a house has four walls, a table 4 legs and so on) and a mountain is, for the most part, a very solid structure. With all the greenery in the bamboo forest and the field he is sitting in I feel like this can embody some duality within The Emperor: he is not just hard and solid like a mountain but also capable of growth and lushness. I think this also pairs well with The Empress as I feel she is not just about nature's gifts but a ruler in her own right. She actually wields the sceptre and orb, more plant-like versions of them though, common royal processional objects (so I learned after googling), while the emperor has a ram-headed scepre and the orb has become part of his crown. This is opposite from the Thoth, where The Emperor holds both objects while The Empress is the one who has the orb as part of her crown. I'm not sure what this conveys. I'm also curious about the eyes on his sleeves - does he see everything in his dominion or are they for another purpose?

Colours play a big role in this card in my opinion. There are two colours that dominate, namely green and red, and those colours are opposite of each other on the colour wheel making them contrast against each other. Red on his upper garment, red eagles on the shield, red flowers and red mountains in the distance. Red is a colour I associate with love, war, blood, anger, it's striking, warm and highly energetic. Green is on his skirt, on the lotus leaves, the bamboo forest and the ground. It's a calmer colour than red and I associate it with lush greenery, healing, growth but also sickness and envy. In the card it's mostly just plants and nature that have this colour, so I feel it gives a different appeal than the Thoths fiery red/orange/yellow Emperor and the RWS where he is sitting in a mostly barren landscape.

The animals in this card are interesting. There is the ram and the eagle that you see often in tarot cards, but also the small lambs (I think they are at least) by the emperors feet. The ram that peeks out from behind the Emperor makes me think of fatherhood but also maybe animal husbandry since it might be the Emperor taking care of them? I'm not too familiar with how dedicated rams are to taking care of their lambs Also, could it be that the card is associated with Aries? The eagle is a large bird that has a long history as a symbol of power and freedom, and is on the shield. Shields are for protection so maybe the eagles give this shield some extra oomph?

The last and to me most mysterious animal is the sweet panda bear. I haven't seen a panda in the Emperor card before and I'm not familiar with its symbolism or significance. There is the bamboo forest in the background so I wouldn't say the bear is completely out of its element, even if it is hanging out with a human.

For now I'll leave it at that. The overall impression I get is of a friendly Emperor - he is not as stern as he can look in other decks I have. He has power, sure, but I feel like this card focuses more on his softer qualities.
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I wonder what your book will say, if anything, about the panda. The only thing that comes to mind are his colors -- the black & white checkerboard sometimes on cards to refer to duality and to the black, grey and white at the top of the Tree of Life. Like you said, there's all that bamboo for him to eat, so he's right at home.

Aries is the sign for the Emperor in Golden Dawn and Thoth, so she seems to be sticking with that. Thoth Emperor also has the lamb. Crowley refers to the Thoth lamb as a symbol of being tamed and made docile by government. The Emperor as social ruler (after the Empress as ruler of nature, as you were saying). Of course Rosie Bjorkman's book may share a different interpretation.

I see what you mean about the softer Emperor. The green being there and the lotus on this card instead of just a feminine symbol on the Empress. Plus he looks kind rather than stern.

It's interesting that she chose to have them facing the opposite direction as the Thoth. And the Empress the opposite of RWS. Set side by side in order they turn away from one another instead of towards. I'm probably reaching here... but I wonder if that could be commentary on civilization's relationship to the natural world. While the lotus and green on the Emperor could remind us that we're still part of nature even if we as a society turn our back to it.
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