The Emperor

 

Barbara G. Walker’s Emperor, shown above, is a confident man with a long beard, which is a sign of masculine maturity, tights not withstanding. The fact that the beard is black shows he is in the prime of his virility. His eagle-blazened shield symbolizes his honor and nobility.  His orb and scepter illustrate his kingship.  The mountains and broad sky behind him show the reach of his power and possibility.

Robin Wood’s Emperor also has the full beard of maturity and virility, but it is shot with gray to temper that virility with wisdom. It is also gold, like a lion’s mane, to show his regality. He is crowned with the laurel leaves of a philosopher king, and clothed in the red of fire-y power and the purple of royalty. He’s got the whole world at his feet, and his arm rests have ram’s heads, a symbol of sexuality and power. His codpiece also has a ram’s head ;).
His animals are also important symbols.  His head is flanked by two birds. I see these birds as ravens, and they remind me of Odin’s ravens, Huginn and Muninn. Huginn means “thought” and Muninn means “memory.”  They are Odin’s loyal servants, who keep him informed.  Thus, the Emperor in a spread may indicate that the questioner must know who their friends are, and whom they can trust to be honest and true. It also may be telling the questioner that they have intuitive powers and shamanic prowess.  This is underscored by his silver-y armor. This isn’t just brawn; it’s brains too. A real man embraces the Feminine.  Sometimes, the Emperor may want to remind a powerful questioner of that fact.
Sometimes, the Emperor reminds me of Odin in his sacrificial aspect. One important thing about Odin is that he gave himself over to great pain to obtain knowledge of the Runes and give it to the people. Sometimes, the Emperor is there to tell us that the ultimate manly act is to sacrifice oneself–either to gain knowledge, or, even better, to help others.

Mary Guinan’s illustration for Julian De Burgh’s Celtic Deck shows the Emperor in a state of meditation, even melancholy. Did he see something in his orb that has brought him to this state? Or is he simply weary?  What has him so worried?
Or, is he thinking of a solution to a problem?
Has he forgotten that, as The Emperor, he has the power to solve the problem, and the wisdom to find a solution? Is this what the card is trying to tell the questioner?

While I mentioned that The Emperor may remind the questioner that real masculine power must also have elements of tenderness, The Emperor may also want the questioner to embrace power, action, and force, no matter what gender.  Kris Waldherr, creator of The Goddess Deck, chose Freyja, the Norse goddess of beauty and love.  Freyja, a member of the peaceful Vasir, was given in marriage to broker peace between the Vasir and the war-loving Aesir.  She balances action and rest, strength and gentleness. Waldherr writes, in her companion book for the deck, “Freyja becomes the link between the old world–before iron tools–and the new, where power was often expressed in violence instead of through diplomacy and tolerance. She shows that true power lies in the ability to discriminate between aggression and passivity–and the ability to choose between them at the correct time” (Waldherr 26).
Power comes from balance between opposites.

If the Emperor does not represent the questioner, he (or she, in Freyja’s case) may represent someone in the questioner’s life, usually a figure in power, typically a father figure, or another male presence in the questioner’s life, or a woman with traditionally “masculine” attributes. This person is a good leader, someone who is kind and powerful.

Reversed, The Emperor may indicate someone who is either too weak, and is being used as a doormat, or someone who is aggressive and bullying. It may also indicate a person who is simply incompetent, especially in a leadership position. Knowing the situation will help you figure it out.

This post is dedicated, with love, to Jim Carmody–1922-2012.

A lion with the sun for a mane

Leo energy is associated with the lion, which is very apropos.  Leos are loyal, royal, and confident.  This energy is proud and bright, just like the sun that rules the sign.  Leo energy can be happy, whimsical,  and childlike (the sign traditionally rules children), like a marmalade- colored kitten, or noble and majestic, like the lion.

Leo is the sign of the Performer, of those who shine out from the crowd with personalities larger than life.  This energy instills a self-esteem that makes the bearer feel like a typical house cat, preening and luxurious.  After all, the sun is the center of the solar system, and that is where Leo feels most comfortable.  The sun is the spring board of creation, of life on this planet.  Leos are the lives of the party, the stars of the show, flamboyant and exuberant.  If out of balance, they are demanding and pouty, and throw colossal temper tantrums, just like Ishtar, the Babylonian goddess of love and war.  Ishtar was so angry that the hero Gilgamesh turned down her sexual favors that she had a wild bull sent to kill him.  When Gilgamesh’s companion, Enkidu, slays the bull and tosses the bloody hide into Ishtar’s temple, she kills Enkidu (MythAstrology 152-153).  The pride of this placement, and of those who have this energy, is not to be trifled with.

As the Performer, Leo brings joy to people by changing himself to fit his audience. His creativity is expressed by making people laugh, and by creating characters and scenarios. He is born for the stage, for the arts, for the microphone.  If Leo energy does not call its owner to act, it will push him to express his exuberance in some other way that enables him to interact with people. This can be as simple as being known for his friendliness and openness.

Balanced Leo energy loves an audience, but unbalanced Leo energy cannot live without one.  The unbalanced Leo energy causes its bearer to keep a mask on continuously, a mask that attempts to portray its wearer as perfect.  Underneath the cultured regality, and/or the perpetually sunny exterior, there may lurk a deep insecurity (MythAstrology 22).  The person may actually adopt Leo energy as a defense against these feelings of inferiority. This insecurity, instead of being handled in a healthy way, is a catalyst for an intense need to be the center of attention and narcissism.

When out of balance, the warmth of the Leo energy can be too encompassing. It can engulf and burn.  It can turn into rage–not the berserker rage of an Aries, but the sly, “catty” anger that can sneak up on its victim and slice him to ribbons.  It becomes a sense of entitlement, born from that hidden sense of insecurity.

On the other hand, when out of balance, the Leo energy can become cold.  Laughter fades, and creativity becomes fallow. Curiosity vanishes. The flip side of the Sun is, as we all know, the Shadow. Leo sadness is as cold and dark as Leo happiness is warm and bright.

Leo energy, when it comes to love, is pure and childlike. Since Leo is aligned with fire, the energy is passionate and active. Arien energy, also aligned with fire, is physical, competitive, courageous, and adventurous.  Sagittarius, also a fire energy, is philosophical, itinerant, blunt, and independent. Leo is glamourous, cultured, urbane, and charming.

A person with balanced Leo energy is friendly and inclusive, like the sun itself.  Its energy puts a spring or a slink in a step.  It seems to radiate from the person. Leos are full of curiosity and amusement.  The Leo, in allowing herself to be vulnerable, finds that her insecurity goes down.  In being open about her love for others, she will find that this wonderful Leo energy will grow and shine effortlessly, and she will find herself in her natural habitat–the spotlight.

Archetypes, People, and Animals associated with Leo:

Cats (especially Lions)

Actors, Comedians, Dramatists, and other Performers

The Diva

Sun gods and goddesses, especially Apollo, god of the Sun and Performance

Cybele–an Anatolian Mother Goddess who became the Greek “Mistress of Animals”, a Goddess whose worship included wild music, dancing, and performance

Ishtar

Colette–the 1920s French author and actress. Though she is an Aquarius (and has that archetype and energy) she is also very strongly a Leo.

How to bring in Leo energy:

1) Visualize yourself surrounded by the light of the sun. Imagine this sunlight pooling into your body, pouring into the top of your head (your crown chakra) and traveling down your spine into your heart. Feel your heart pump that warm brightness through your body. Let it relax your muscles. Feel your face muscles relax as you smile. Stretch like a cat.

2) Take a step toward being in the spotlight–tell a joke to a group of trusted friends.  Tell a story about an adventure you had.  If you ever had a craving to act, write, or make art, take a class.

3) If you are used to being in the spotlight, the next time you are with a group, encourage someone else to speak, and really listen.

4) Think about your favorite things to do as a child–fly a kite, run through the sprinkler, water color, put on shows.  Do one of those things soon. Note how you feel afterward.  Leo is the energy of children, and it will bring sunny joy into your life if you return to your roots.

5) Put on sunscreen and walk outside on a sunny day.

6) Meditate on your favorite animal.  What qualities of the animal would you like to assimilate into your own personality?  Carry a small charm or picture of the animal as your totem.  Leo is a strong animal energy–very pure and noble, like the energy of children. Think of the lion’s strength, the cat’s contentment, the grace of the deer.  How can you adopt these qualities?

By the way, MythAstrology is pretty much amazing and you should buy it.