Margarete Petersen Study - III - The Empress



Guess what, guess what! I went into the Berlin Bookstore "Adhara Büchertempel" (temple of books) and there hanging on the wall was the original painting of this card, signed in pencil in the left bottom corner by MP. (It wasn't there before, it is a new acquisition)

It is the size of a large poster, and to my surprise, the colours are very much more subtle than those on the printed card. The printed card shows the center "thing" in fiery colours, the original painting shows it in gentle shades of purple and pink, almost pastels. It looks sort of like a water colour, and certainly much more suggestive of the interior of a delicate flower than a ferocious vagina dentata. I notice for the first time the lovers in the upper left corner of the image.

I asked the lovely bookstore owner about the meaning of the image, and why the vagina dentata thing, and she said it is Kali, and Lilith.

So there we have it, this empress is Kali -- a goddess sometimes ferocious?


That is so exciting Firemaiden!
I wonder why the colors were changed for the cards?
From your description it sounds like I would like the original painting much better than the card.


As I look at these cards, the more it seems that words are too much. The naked female figure balances what appears to be the centre of a flower, though this image could have a thousand other meanings. It could be the mouth of a womb in which all beauty is born. It looks deep, fathomless, and everything around is like this too.

I continue to see figures in the clouds and don’t know whether others see them too. In the top left part of the image are two figures embracing.


I see it too, now. Quite clearly.


My first impression of this card was much different than others'. I immediately saw the opening to the vagina. The secret cave of passion and love. I see the fruits at the bottom, perfectly ripe and juicy. I think this card is incredibly beautiful. I think the woman's body is incredibly beautiful. This cards reminds me of how beautiful I feel when I make love with my boyfriend and he gazes on me and tells me how beautiful I am.

What appear as the thighs opening up are also sides of a valley. There are natural stairs in the stone that climb to the top of the mountain. Pictured in the mountain are couples making love. Beautiful passionate love.

The Empress is at the base of all this. There are roots at the bottom near where she sits. These spoke of the root chakra to me that keeps us grounded and feeling secure here on Earth. The fruit is at the peak of ripeness. So juicey and sweet. One more day and it will be too much, but today it is perfectly ripe and sweet.

The opening to the vagina looks soft and velvety to me. It reminds me of the sea animal that has all of the long legs and looks more like a plant. All of these legs swoosh back and forth with the tide inviting the fish to come in where they will be devoured.

This card would read to me beauty, passion, love, ripeness, welcoming, birth, and life in general. It is also about sensations and feeling.


Anyone familiar with Georgia O'Keefe?

I've just recently acquired the Petersen deck (the maroon bordered one!) and have begun to study it. This study group has been a wonderful resource; I can't tell you how much I appreciate it. However, when I got to the Empress, I really thought all I'd find would be about six lines containing a phrase something like. . ." a striking composition using all the elements of modern feminist iconography." Which it does.

As near as I can tell, the central object is a pomegranate flower representing the central idea of the Empress much better than a Sheila. (Georgia O'keefe's paintings of flowers are sometimes just flowers. Other times they very closely resemble female genitalia. Well, think about what a flower really is, after all.) ;)

The rest of it's pretty standard: hills representing legs (terraced for agriculture farther back) and mountains for breasts at the top of the picture. The seated woman seems to be gathering a little of the nectar from the flower for herself (I guess each of us do) and her hair rises up to blend with the fertile hillsides. Red hair, red earth. Then rising from the deep, black earth are two more flowers (yes, they look like pomegranates but looking closely you can see that they have pistils and stamins) making a total of III. The central flower is placed where a very pregnant belly usually is usually found in pictures of this sort.

See Genetti's Wheel of Change, the Judgement card, and Daughters of the Moon "Celebration" card for other examples of the type.


Thanks for the suggestion to put the card upside down. I can indeed see the fallopian tubes, the ovaries and of course the vagina. But this would mean that the Empress herself IS the uterus (womb). And indeed, if I compare the card with a classical representation of the uterus, like this one: (turn it upside down), I notice that the outline of the sitting woman (Empress) has almost the same shape as the inside of the uterus itself.


Gosh, how wonderful to have someone posting to this thread. Welcome Aduki.
I don't know what it means, I would find it odd to say that she IS the vagina, perhaps more like the principal of the creation (and destruction if it is Kali ) of life. What do you think ?


Sorry I didn’t respond any more.
I don’t know what it means either, but I find it fascinating. Some decks represent the Emperor as the phallus (like the Intuitive Tarot & Tarot of the Crone), so why not represent the Empress as the womb itself. The womb as ultimate symbol for creation.

I want to thank you for this study group. I bought the Margarete Petersen a few years back and once in a while I study a card. When I do that, I often turn to this study group to read other people's thoughts about the card (but most of the time I don’t reply). So even after all these years, it is still very useful. Thanks a lot.


aduki, I was looking for the "like" button to say I like your post, have gotten so used to fb. Anyhow, thank you popping in. Would love to hear if you use this deck for reading.