Symbolism notes and some observations
As far as the LWB's interpretations, I get the most out of these when applying them to the specific question or spread (kind of like a mantra, and whatever sticks in my craw tends to be the focus for interpretation). Trying to understand what they're meaning just based on the card is maddening at best.
Here are a couple citations concerning the dove/pigeon and some other observations I've made about this card. Sorry for the long winded quotations, but I felt it best to give the information I found in its entirety and let people pick through what makes sense to them, instead of limiting the meanings to just a few words. Some food for thought at least.
Keynote: Return to the Love and Security of Home
“The term dove and pigeon are now interchangeable, so a study of both would be warranted to understand the symbolism. Because of it’s extraordinary homing sense it is able to find it’s way ‘home’ no matter the distance needed to travel… can then be associated with the need to return home and security, they can help us find our way back when we feel lost. They are reminders to us to remember that which has positively affected us from early home life. Have we forgotten who we are? Are we falling into old patterns we vowed to remember and change? Have we forgotten our basic foundations, the heritage we have passed on to use through home and family? These include morals, the behaviors and attitudes, etc. Draw upon them and use them…. Sacred symbols of fertility gods and goddesses. They reflect the fertility of home and family that can occur when they are around. Pigeons will huddle together during a storm. If there are storms in your life, huddle with your family - biological or otherwise. There will be safety and security in that activity.”
Keynote: Feminine Energies of Peace, Maternity, and Prophecy
“Tremendous wealth of lore and legend surrounding this symbol, most of it centering around all of the traditional feminine and mother symbols. In the Greek tradition, Aphrodite was born from an egg brooded by a dove. The Oracles of Dodona which Alexander sought were founded by a dove. To the Slavs, the soul would become a dove at death. To the alchemist, it was a symbol of sublimation. To the Christians, it is a symbol of peace, while to early pagans it was a symbol for the yoni or female sexual organs. I has been associated with many goddesses, it was considered the embodiment of the maternal instinct. “The name dove has been given to oracles and to prophets.. The prophet sent to Ninevah as God’s messenger was called Jonah or the Dove…”
It is believed that the mournful song of the dove stirs emotions, the internal waters. The song of the dove is considered the rain song. Out of its mourning, it invokes new waters of life. Its song should remind us that no matter what our life conditions, new waters and new life are possible. Although it’s song is heard throughout the day, it seems more distinct at dawn and dusk. These are the “Between Times” - a time in which there is a thinning of the veils between the physical and the spiritual, the past and the future. The dove can help you to use these times to see the creation process active within your own life. The song of this totem tells you to mourn what has passed, but awaken to the promise of the future. It is a bird of prophecy and can help you to see what you can give birth to in your life.”
Animal Speak by Ted Andrews
It is interesting to note that the dove does appear to break through the stain glass window. On closer inspection of the window I see remains of wings, as though an angel of some sort was depicted within the glass prior to being shattered. Nothing, not even a window, could keep this dove from coming ‘home’ and the Empress is not at all disturbed by the ruckus behind her for she looks in the other direction - to the future perhaps?
The observation made that the Empress looks like she’s listening to something might go along with the mention of the Throat Chakra and the color blue, as would part of the symbolism of the dove and it's song. There is a balance established between talking and listening, mainly if you do as much talking as you do listening that you feel calmer, more centered, and have a better understanding of your environment.
One last thing in the image I *think* I see, is in the body of the closest armrest in the picture. Right behind the cat’s head the stone changes color and I noticed a landscape image within the rock - as though a mountain is in the distance with a river flowing across it. Does anybody else see this? In the traditional pictures of the Empress card there is a river in the picture, symbolizing the constant force and flow of life, always changing, never the same - and the mountain - stability??
I’m not sure if her hair is braided or if it’s just coiffed into one of those ‘hair nets’ used in the middle ages. So her hair then is bound, restrained sexuality or sensuality? Could this be why she looks so dissatisfied?