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The Emperor

Tarot Card Meaning

  • Upright Keywords:

    Authority, Structure, Control, Discipline, Leadership, Stability, Power

  • Reversed Keywords:

    Tyranny, Rigidity, Domineering, Inflexibility, Lack of Discipline, Weakness, Authoritarian


As a symbol of authority, structure, and control, The Emperor represents leadership, discipline, and stability. This card embodies the power of a ruler who creates order and enforces rules, but it can also warn of tyranny, inflexibility, and potential abuse of power.

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What Does The Emperor Tarot Card Mean?

As you can see, The Emperor depicts an old man on the throne. His face is that of an authoritarian ruler, and there is unshakable determination in his expression. The general meaning of the Emperor tarot card is authority, structure, and control, but the specific angle can be positive or negative.

Depending on the context and the position of the card (that’s why it’s better to have a professional tarot session), The Emperor can represent a wise mentor who knows most things in life and is worth listening to or a domineering authority figure you need to remove yourself from to finally feel free. As is always the case with tarot readings, your question, the focus of the reading, and other cards in the spread affect the card’s meaning.

The Emperor Upright Tarot Card Meaning

The upright Emperor tarot card is known to act as a fatherly figure for the other tarot cards. Simply put, The Emperor represents acts of a disciple, hard work, ambition, and integrity. Also, it can stand for an individual who you would look to for counseling.

Alternatively, The Emperor in an upright position can stand for a period of stability and structure in your life; it might be trying to encourage you to take control and enforce your own rules. If you are looking for a sign that you are a good leader who deserves to be in a position of power, the upright Emperor is that sign.

The Emperor Tarot Card Meaning: Love & Relationships

In the context of love, The Emperor tarot card represents a relationship with older men (as long as the person who wants to engage in the relationship is single and interested in men). If there is such a person in your life, and you are interested in him, go for it. Also, the upright Emperor often represents a stable and protective influence and might suggest that the “protector and provider” you’ve been waiting for is coming your way.

The Emperor Meaning: Money & Career

If you draw the upright Emperor tarot card, it means that the hard work and effort that you put into your career will soon pay off. You just need to stay focused and keep your eye on the prize. Discipline is key at this point of your career, and so far, you’ve been good at it.

When it comes to finances, The Emperor suggests that you should manage your money responsibly. Trust your gut and spend where and when you deem appropriate, but don’t be overly generous. Also, if you keep working hard and stay disciplined, you might soon achieve success that will drastically improve your financial standing.

Upright Meaning: Past

The Emperor in an upright position might be pointing toward a situation in your past when strong leadership and practical decisions on your part led to stability and success. The deck is telling you to keep up the good work and continue putting in the effort with diligence and consistency. Your hard work won’t go unnoticed, and it will once again pay off soon.

The Emperor Reversed Tarot Card Meaning

The reversed Emperor card is the exact opposite of its upright version. It represents laziness, procrastination, misuse of power, and inappropriate behavior. The reversed Emperor might be pointing to an overbearing or tyrannical approach or, on the contrary, the lack of structure and control.

If you draw The Emperor in a reversed position, you might need to reassess how you exert control and authority (if you are in a position of power in any way). Chances are, you aren’t as democratic and open of a leader as you think you are, and your methods are limiting your followers’ potential.

The Emperor Tarot Card Meaning: Love & Relationships

In tarot readings about love and relationships, the reversed Emperor means that there is instability within the relationship. Moreover, there might be a misuse of power of some sort, which leads to an unhealthy and unhappy relationship. Think of both your own and your partner’s behavior (as The Emperor can be pointing toward any of you). Make sure that neither of you is being overly domineering or, on the contrary, unnecessarily submissive.

The Emperor Meaning: Money & Career

When The Emperor card is reversed in the career context, it means that you (or the person you asked your career-related question about) are not putting in the work and effort to achieve the desired goals. The main problems are likely procrastination and inconsistency. If you want to achieve success, you need to reassess your work ethic and work on your discipline.

Reversed Meaning: Past

If you asked the deck about your past and got the reversed Emperor, it means that the deck wants to remind you of the situation where there was either a lack of authority or an abuse of power. Examine your past decision-making to make sure you avoid making the same fatal mistakes again in the future. If you haven’t worked on this aspect of yourself yet, it might be the right time to reevaluate and improve your leadership skills.

Is The Emperor a Yes or No Card?

Upright Emperor Meaning: Yes or No

When drawn as a response to a yes or no question, The Emperor in an upright position is a yes. It suggests that with structure, authority, and discipline, the outcome of what you are asking about will likely be favorable. Don’t be afraid to take on a leadership role—you’ll be good at it!

Reversed Emperor Meaning: Yes or No

In contrast, the reversed Emperor is typically a no. The cards are trying to tell you that there may be obstacles related to misuse of power or lack of structure in the situation you are asking about. If you are already in a position of power, reconsider your methods. If you are thinking of taking on a leadership role, it might not be the best idea, at least not yet.

Reading The Emperor in a Spread

Let’s explore how the other cards you draw in a tarot spread together with The Emperor affect its meaning.

The Empress. When drawn together, The Emperor and The Empress represent the balance between masculine and feminine energies. The Emperor’s structure and authority complement The Empress’s nurturing nature and creativity perfectly.

Justice. Next to Justice, The Emperor suggests that the big decision you will soon have to make will require a strong sense of justice and integrity. Don’t neglect those, even if you are hoping for a massive personal gain.

The Hierophant. The pairing of The Hierophant and The Emperor represents adherence to established systems and beliefs; it emphasizes the value of order and discipline. The cards warn you against breaking the rules in any way, at least not in the situation you’re asking them about.

The Chariot. Drawn together, The Chariot and The Emperor symbolize control and determination. The Chariot’s drive and ambition, paired with The Emperor’s leadership and authority, will bring you success and help you achieve your goals.

The Fool. The painting of The Fool and The Emperor represents tension between structure and spontaneity. The Emperor’s love for structure and order is the complete opposite of The Fool’s free spirit. Make sure you find a way to balance the two if you want your plans to bring you success.

The Emperor Tarot Guide

The Emperor Tarot Card Meaning