Legend: The Arthurian Tarot - The Emperor



I have not been able to find an obvious linking card that would fit to the right of the Emperor card from within the Majors. I have not studied all the Minors yet, there may well be one in among them. So I don't know where the door leads, which also seems to be the source of the strong breeze blowing the torches. Well, the obvious answer is that the door is from Arthur's unconscious, but what I mean is that I haven't noticed a card yet that expresses this link.

Of course I looked at #5, the Hierophant, Teliesin, whom one could imagine attending Arthur at court. But of course his card has quite different imagery from Arthur's.

Using the principle that the Majors can be broken down into repeating groups of seven, in #11, Justice, The Lady of the Lake, Arthur does appear in this card, and this time he is actually kneeling in the water before the Lady (ah, that's better). But that's another card and another story.

In the third cycle of seven, #18, The Moon, Morgan Le Fay is in later days portrayed as Arthur's antagonist, but again I cannot see an obvious link in imagery.

It interesting to note that the Fool's Journey of the Majors is strongly associated with Arthur. He appears in the Emperor, The Chariot, The Wheel of Fortune, Justice, and Judgement. Arthur is also strongly associated with Temperance. Of the other characters in the Majors, none appear more than twice. The Priestess and Morgan appear in their own cards and in the Judgement, Percivale appears in the Fool and dreams Strength, and Gareth and Lyones appear in the Lovers and are implied in the Hanged Man.


Maybe it is the door to his emotions then...tightly shut, no one knows what he really feels then.


Oh, I just had another look at the card. I think the door I saw was in my own unconscious, not Arthur's! I thought there was a door just to the right of Arthur's throne as we look at the picture. I took the sconce that holds the right-hand torch as being the top of the door frame. By the vague greyness below the sconce I felt it was an open door. But now I see that it was just part of the wall - how disappointing.

So the only real door we can see is at the back of the throne room, a door which is slightly open, perhaps in the background of Arthur's past, like Uther, the King of Shields. The source of the breeze blowing the torches is still a mystery.


Perhaps the flames are moved by "spirit" (Greek and Hebrew words use the same word for spirit as they do for "breath" or "wind"). I was just thinking that the Emperor is generally Aries - the "I Am" or the power behind what is. Arthur's function is leadership and decision making, his word is final - that is his power. Our individual spirit, the conscience, challenges us, convicts us, produces achievement - we cannot see spirit, it is not contained - the king's solemn vow is to the spirit of the land, to protect and do what is best for her.

Doors offer protection from both the elements and enemies. We can enter or exit a situation through them. We do not know what lies beyond this door, and at this point it is probably not a criteria - what we see, is what we need to know for the present to make logical decisions.


Hi Lyones

Yes, I think its logical to conclude that if there is no obvious symbolic outside source for the wind which is disturbing the torches, it is Arthur himself. Arthur is the centre of an energy vortex though which his spiritual strength manifests in the pneuma fanning the flames of insightful reason and masculine passion.

I know you are in the majority on this, but I prefer to see the Emperor as an expression of Capricorn as the Authority, with the keyword "I Rule". I put the Chariot in Aries as the Victor, with the keyword "I Am". I think we end up seeing the Emperor archetype in a similar way, just from a different angle.

In the negative, I put the Devil in Capricorn as the Possessor and the Tower in Aries as the Destroyer (I repeat some astrological correspondences since there are only 12 signs for 22 cards).



When you open a door, it can draw wind out, as well as send wind in. So I'm wondering if the open door isn't drawing the flames toward it? Which would mean that Arthur's spirit is drawn to the world outside the court, to the land and people.


Hi RedMaple. I think I like your metaphor better than my spontaneous Arthurian vortex! Those castles were draughty enough that there would always be a source of air to supply the outgoing draw of an open door. :)


Just thought I'd add the image we've been discussing.


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