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The Empress

By Erica Adams, Office Manager

I’ve been reading tarot for 11 years, and use it as a tool for self-examination and personal development. I find the archetypes represented by the cards to be a never-ending source of wisdom. The Tarot itself comes from the Middle Ages; it was originally a card game with imagery based on the spiritual viewpoint of the early Renaissance. Most historians believe it was not used for divination (“fortune-telling”) until the late 18th century.
One of my favorite cards is the Empress – this card is numbered 3 in the Major Arcana (arcana is latin for secrets). The tarot is divided in two parts: the major arcana, with 22 cards, symbolizing big energies, overarching themes, issues dealing with character and destiny. The minor arcana, with 56 cards, has more to do with the everyday: how those big themes effect your circumstances or behavior. Like modern playing cards, they are divided into 4 suits.
The Empress – being one of these “big theme” cards— is the embodiment of sensuality, fertility, and feminine power. Her power is drawn from the earth and her physical body. The imagery on the Rider-Waite deck shows a reclining woman: she wears a loose robe covered in pomegranates, surrounded by lush vegetation. She has a crown and staff, suggesting she is the queen of her earthly kingdom. Next to her is a female symbol on heart-shaped shield; that symbol is also the sign of Venus/Aphrodite. A waterfall flows from the field behind her to underneath her throne. 
She appears content – completely present and accessible.You’ll notice that she’s by herself. Her energy is utterly self-contained; her power comes from her own life-force energy, not other people. To me that’s the key to her fecundity. It raises the important question: how often do we find ourselves seeking strength through our personal interactions? Where do we get our nourishment from?  What feeds our spirit? 

When we embody the archetype of the Empress, we realize we have our own personal kingdom to draw from. We are present in our bodies, we take time to appreciate nature, and we understand the cycles of life. Just as the moon waxes and wanes, we connect ourselves to the rhythms of the earth. We slow down; we listen to our bodies. We pause before we give; we pause before we commit ourselves to anything. We know that we as women – in all cycles of our lives – hold the keys to creation, and that is a responsibility: to have the wisdom to say no, to know when to retreat, when it is time to nurture ourselves. We make ourselves a priority because we know that it is for the greatest good: we cannot give to others unless we give to ourselves first.

The Empress embodies fertility; she is fertile precisely because she is able to take time to be present, to appreciate and enjoy her body (represented by the nature around her). She ensures her personal kingdom is well-cared for.
If our bodies were the earth, what would your body look like? Would it be a field, ready to be planted? Would it be seeking new soil, nutrients, water, or light? Would it be the woods, private and contained? I think of my body as deep woods, meadows, and mesas. In my body there are places bursting with life: wellsprings of creativity, physical energy, vitality and light. There are also areas that could use more sunshine, water, and attention – I meditate on these places and imagine giving them what they need. Closing my eyes, I see the soil grow dark, moist and rich. The clouds move away from the sun.
Like the Empress, I pause. I give gratitude for the bounty my body and the earth gives me.