Arcana In Balance: The Emperor

I was watching the special features on the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp version of  “Alice in Wonderland”  with my daughter. That’s one DVD I was happy to have her see. Themes of autonomy, individuality, empowerment…was pleasantly surprised by it all.

Even found an idea that fit right in with today’s card, the Emperor, believe it or not – “muchness”

I’ve written here about the Emperor card before, comparing it to historical Emperors and Leaders…contrasting the difference between power and leadership, like the difference between Napoleon and Lincoln…actually, looking back, I’ve written kind of a truckload about the Emperor. Put Emperor in the search bar to the right, and you’ll get lots of posts to browse if you are interested..

But getting back to today’s ‘arcana in balance’, where does the idea of “muchness” (mojo, getting your groove back, self-confidence, leadership) show us a point of balance in our lives?

I have a framed poster that has been on my wall for 15 years that says “there is nothing  so strong as gentleness and nothing so gentle as true strength”

The Emperor is all power, all leadership, yes. But the lesson of balance is one of personal power vs external power.

Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland gives great examples of this.

On one hand, there is the Red Queen…large and in charge, stamping about ordering beheadings at a whim.

On the other hand you have Alice who learns, becomes more fully herself, discovers her “muchness”. She leads the Mad Hatter and the others to slay the Jabberwokey and reclaim the throne for the White Queen. Alice’s strength keeps her kind and connected and learning through it all…no petulance, no stamping, no screaming, and no beheadings. Alice controls herself and chooses the path of personal power. The Red Queen chooses power over others and finds the path of fear, anger and loss.

It might seem a little gender-swapped to talk about queens in a post about the Emperor card. By citing women, you might think that this should be associated with the Empress card. The gender represented on the Tarot the card does not limit who can learn the lesson. Women can learn the lesson of  the Emperor as well as men learning lessons of the Empress. The cards are archetypal, and the lessons are for everyone.

Some may want to dismiss this card as not relevant since they don’t see themselves as being in a position of leadership…

We are all leaders of our own life. We all have our own inner power and Empire to claim…the card does not, at heart, have to do with power over others. It has to do with inner personal power and control. You don’t have to be President to learn from the emperor.  If you take control of yourself, as Alice did, then you can slay whatever Jabberwokeys come along. If you are a calm and competent leader of your own life, then you can solve whatever problems come along, whether it involves leading other people or not.

“Home is but within my skin,

Heart and mind a vast domain

Strength is the wind

And wisdom rain…”

excerpt from “Kingdom” a poem by Ronda Snow, all rights reserved




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