The Empress

Alt names:
Keywords: Fertility, productivity, ripeness, nurturing
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Range of meanings

Light: Nurturing yourself and others. Bearing fruit. Celebrating your body. Bearing literal or figurative children. Reveling in luxury. Mothering those around you in positive ways. Enjoying your sexuality. Getting things done.

Shadow: Overindulging. Being greedy. Smothering someone with attention. Debilitating someone by being overprotective. Inhibiting productivity by obsessing on productivity. Being overcome by addictive behavior.

Questions to ask

  1. What do you have dominion over?
  2. How might themes of comfort or indulgence impact your situation?
  3. In your situation, what outcome struggles to be born?
  4. What would a concerned and capable mother do?
  5. What can I do that would emphasize growth?
  6. How can I celebrate my own sensuality and sexuality?


Personal Growth: Your attitudes toward women (and your insights into your own feminine qualities) are likely rooted in early experiences. How can you emulate the best female role models you’ve encountered? How can you transcend female influences that harm or hold you back?

Work: Now is the time to get things done. Wrap up projects. Ask for resources. Meet deadlines. Move ahead. During this time of growth and expansion, be sure you have the skills and training you need. In the meantime, don’t mistake a headlong rush for focused, verifiable progress.

Relationships: Without going overboard, revel in your sensuality. Take care you don’t produce more than you intended; the moment is pregnant with possibility. Be lavish with demonstrations of affection. Watch for what a friend or partner needs, and then supply it in abundance.

Spirituality: Women are the figurative and literal door to this world. This moment, too, can be a door for you—a threshold you cross into a new awareness. Watch for physical ways to express your spiritual insights. Reconnect with nurturing, feminine images of divinity, including nature.

Fortune-Telling: Pregnancy is in the cards. An opportunity to be involved in luxurious sexuality is coming. Beware a tendency toward addiction.


Planet: Venus

Hebrew: Daleth/Door/4

Archetype: The Mother

Religions: Gaia, Mother Earth, Ishtar, Demeter—mature, reproductive female divinity in every form. Also Aphrodite and Turan.

Fool's Journey: A motherly or nurturing figure reminds the main character of the core values that are the essence of his or her character.

The Number 3: Getting Results: expression, productivity, output.

Venus: The familiar planetary symbol for Venus often appears in illustrations for the Empress, stressing the her association with domesticity, motherhood, and female sexuality.

Scepter with Orb and Cross: The Empress’s scepter is a symbol of authority. It's topped by a cross and an orb, a sign of earthly dominion.

Crown: In RWS-influenced images, the Empress wears a diadem of 12 stars, suggesting her dominion over the circle of the year.

Rushing Stream: Unlike the vast, still, reflective body of water often shown behind the High Priestess, the Empress is often seen near a rushing stream or waterfall. Her energy is actively rising.

Pregnancy: A universal sign for fertility is pregnancy; in many decks, the Empress is pregnant, emphasizing themes of fertility and productivity.

Content generously licensed from Mark McElroy via