Every few weeks I take a class at an art gallery in Minneapolis, MN. The class is geared toward people who want to explore tarot and each class so far as followed some kind of theme, this past one was about the cosmos, astrology, and the heavenly bodies depicted in the cards and what they mean.
I brought with me the Wild Unknown Tarot and as we went over the cards, sorting them out, I noticed the Emperor and the Empress. In the cards they are depicted as trees with a moon featured in each.
In the Emperor we see this moon covering the sun in a solar eclipse, and the message is rather clear, the thing sun which nourishes the emperor is his power and when that is cut off, the emperor is simply like all others around him. An apt metaphor in the current American political climate. When we begin to depend on our power it is in that moment we lose connection with everything around us, we lose a sense of our humanity—to be reminded that that power can be taken away is something to learn from, indeed, and is not something we should be pinning our humanity on in the first place.
The Emperor has always been focused on the material, the physical, while the Empress has been his counterpart, dealing with the metaphysical, supernatural, and organic. In the Steampunk Tarot by Aly Fell and Barbara Moore she's even shown with some odd magical energy sparking between the fingers of one hand.
But here's the thing, the Empress isn't being shown in the Wild Unknown Tarot alongside an eclipse like the Emperor, she's paired with a waning moon.
The associations I made with her followed the line of thought that she had power but not only did she known it was terribly impermanent but also depended on the knowledge she had, the support she had to give others. The outer branches of her tree are red, while the rest of her is a stark white, and this to me is the knowledge of sacrifice, that power cannot be hoarded.
To be really successful, there needs to be some conscious knowledge that what we give up isn't power, when we give to others, we are empowering, rather than being overpowered. It reminded me of how, through the use of a network of fungi, trees can send nutrients to others. (link)
I think this is a brilliant facet to the relationship in the Emperor and Empress cards and one that can be used in relationship spreads or personal dynamics spreads as well as personal empowerment spreads or ritual work.
I could be rambling about something that was obvious to other people but for whatever reason, the image of the eclipse as a way of cutting away power structures made me geek out like a little boy. What cards do you find share relationships and power dynamics in a different way? Discuss!
Also, check out the Light Grey Art Lab, they have awesome prints and tarot cards for sale! And if you're in Minnesota, then definitely check them out in person! (link!)