Poetry of the Tarot: The Emperor

The Emperor

In golden crown and white beard
the Emperor sits upon his throne.
In his right hand the crown of life,
in his left he decrees self-mastery.
All father, he governs and guards,
ruling with rock hard domination.
Yet we kneel with solemn thanks,
for only the Immortals rest above.

As a sound, long-standing leader
he valiantly creates eternal worth,
showing the poet how to achieve
true individuality in the universe.
Willing to lead rather than follow,
the poet writes with new purpose.
He who has been there, done that.
He who wears armour to prove it.

Fallen, we see the boy, not a man,
who blatantly refuses to grow up.
A puerile Peter Pan soaring high,
missing all control and discipline.
Childlike, lazy and full of himself
he still clings to his mother’s skirt,
where this rebel without a reason
becomes the bullying tyrant he is.

The Earthly laws are essential, for
even Heaven holds strict mastery
in order to bring stability into life.
Clearness of soul awaits each poet
who holds dear the blessed realm.
So all can be wise and enthralling,
the ego must encounter surrender
to bring the Hierophant into light.

Copyright © Deborah Gregory 2016

10 thoughts on “Poetry of the Tarot: The Emperor

  1. Another powerful and beautiful poem inspired by your Tarot deck, dear Deborah. Thank you for holding the Archetypal context. In the United States, this energy is upside down and misguided. The catastrophe of having power with no self-mastery. The Emperor/King so easily becomes a tyrant as Shakespeare (and you) taught. Here, we watch as the earthly laws get a shake-down from a mis-guided child with an Emperor Complex. May the higher law of the Hierophant hold.

    1. Thank you so much Elaine for your rich, insightful reflections and wonderful comment on my poem. I feel that the Archetypes shadow close the Tarot, as there’s so much inner knowledge for us, as we step into each tarot card. You hit the nail on the head with, ‘the catastrophe of having power with no self-mastery’ as the world holds its breath, waiting to see what the upturned child-Emperor will unleash next on his people. I often feel torn between laughing and crying at this state of affairs, desperately trying to hold faith that this time must be necessary for the light of the Hierophant to return. Blessings always, Deborah.

  2. Theoden King of Rohan in Lord of the Rings reminds me of the Emperor, after of course he has overcome the influence and poison of Saruman, when he became a warm but strong leader full of self-mastery. Sadly, the first person who comes to mind as the Emperor reversed is Donald Trump – a tyrant who is apt to throw his toys out of the pram!

    You describe the opposites so clearly within the poem – as a series they are a wonderful way of learning the influences of each card. I first came across the tarot in my teens, initially I found them quite mysterious but was frowned upon by my parents. I forgot about them until I was about 30 when I bought a set and now, having worked with them for nearly 30 years I still find that there is so much to learn. So I’m looking forward to more learning with the Hierophant!

    1. Thank you so much Sophia for sharing your thoughts on ‘King Theoden’ and wonderful comment on my poem. I’m a huge LOTR fan and have the same opinion, Theoden’s qualities remind me of The Emperor. Courageous, and warlike, he cared so much about his people, more than anything. A deeply honourable leader, to whom people loved dearly. Oh just talking about LOTR makes me want to watch all six ‘Hobbit’ films again!

      The tension of the opposites can be found within all the tarot cards, each and every one. After I’ve finished the Major Arcana poems I would love to (in time!) write poems for all 78 cards. Hmm, that would be a very long project. Looking at both sides of each card is absolutely necessary, they couldn’t be read only in their upright position.

      I was fascinated the first time I went for a tarot reading with Clarissa, and wrote a blog about it … if you’re interested in reading more about my tarot journey follow this link: http://theliberatedsheep.com/journey-of-love-the-poetry-of-the-tarot/ Wow, thirty years of working with the Tarot! You must be deeply intimate with the cards, for even after 10+ years I’m still learning, still feel like a beginner most of the time. Blessings, Deborah.

  3. I love how you present both sides of the coin so graphically Deborah. As above so below, all according to the law. The eye that can see beholds deeper wisdom. Blessings on your dear soul.

    1. Thank you so much Susan for your rich reflections. In accordance to the natural laws that govern us, both sides must be viewed to enable the Fool (this poet!) to learn how to further integrate, and hold the tension of the opposites within. My journeying with the Tarot is opening the eyes of my heart even wider. Blessings always, Deborah.

  4. Sunday evening with a glass of red wine and Deborah’s poetry. Perfect combination! The emperor in reverse, and a certain you know who “trumped-up” leader comes to mind. You put your own stamp on tarot, love it!

    1. Thank you so much for your lovely comment Anna, I’ll be raising a glass myself when I get home. Yes, “he” also came to mind when I started to write about the reverse nature, followed by other Puer Aeternus’, child-gods. I’m learning so much on my Tarot journey. Many thanks for your visit today. Blessings, Deborah.

  5. Such a profound vision on the manifestation of this part of the animus. The King in all his glory, willing and able to lead. The tyrant, mean and merciless. The boy dependent and unwilling to take responsibility. They are all part of our possible behaviour patterns. I like the way you have attached the energy of the King to the energy of the poet who will be able to achieve true individuality in the universe.

    1. Thank you so much Susanne for your gift of truly, rich intuitions! It’s always delightful to meet another to whom the Tarot speaks profoundly. Working with the Emperor card this past week has been such a pleasure, with many lessons learnt in self-mastery. The energy of the poet will be ‘circling the Soul’ all the way through this Tarot journey … where next Sunday, hopefully she’ll be meeting ‘the light of the Hierophant.’ Until then, blessings always, Deborah.

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