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A Foundation for Greatness: The Emperor and Aries

Updated: Dec 28, 2022

“Do you wish to be great? Then begin by being. Do you desire to construct a vast and lofty fabric? Think first about the foundations of humility. The higher your structure is to be, the deeper must be its foundation.”

-Saint Augustine

Welcome to the new year on the Wheel of the Year!

We are now in Aries season, whose card is The Emperor. In my personal evolution with the Tarot, my relationship with The Emperor has been more intense than any other single card.

It began soon after I first became dedicated to studying the Tarot. While spending a weekend in the country house-sitting with a dear friend, I explained to him the meaning of each card. He told me which cards he thought represented his current state of mind, but I explained that it’s actually when we pull a spread and view the cards together, that we can really draw insight.

When I gave him his reading, he stood up from the table and walked into the other room. He didn’t like what I was saying. I don’t remember which cards came up, or what the message was, but it wasn’t what he wanted to hear. It wasn’t anything negative, it was a confronting truth that made possible an evolution.

If we hadn’t been such good friends, I wouldn’t have pushed him to see the message. Did I mention he’s an Aries?

Then, it was his turn to read for me. He’s not a Tarot practitioner, but he’s a shaman in his own right. We challenge each other for the better, and this reading was no different. I forget the entirety of the spread, but when The Emperor showed up for me, I too was ready to stand up and walk away.

I said, “No, that can’t be right.” Intensely, I tried to refuse this card. He made me sit with it, and because he knows me so well, and because he understood what it meant to embrace this card with love, he got me to see how I embody The Emperor.

You can probably see why anyone might feel resistance towards this card at first sight.

Seated on a ram-adorned stone throne, The Emperor’s legs and feet are clad in pointed armor. Another ram, the symbol of Aries, is seen on his red robes, which flow beneath his long white beard.

Behind him, giant barren mountains stand tall. His crown is regal, his expression is humorless. He grips his ankh-shaped scepter in one hand and he seems to withhold the golden globe in his other hand.