The Empress is mom. Mother Earth. The primal goddess.
On the card we see a woman on a thrown. It is a rich seat. Not the simple square of the priestess. The Empress enjoys the pleasures of the world. Physical comfort are important.
In front of her we see grain. This connects her to the deities of the past. Ancient mothers like Isis, Venus, Ishtar. Grain is so important to humans. The Empress is the source of grain. The source of life.
At her feet is a shield. We begin to get a hint of something else. With the advent of grain man made more wars. The Empress is a ruler. Not just a mother. Or rather a mother ruler. She is willing to fight to defend what is hers. The shield shows she is prepared for battle. But she doesn’t have a sword. Her intentions are not to conquer, but the defend.
Venus is the goddess we think of relating to love. She arose from the ocean after her father’s penis was cut off. Like Athena she comes to the world fully formed. Male dominated cultures did this to explain older deities. The cults of the goddess are ancient. On the shield of The Empress is the sign of Venus.
But like The Empress Venus was a warrior.
This card has the number three. It isn’t just about the mother. But also the child. The primal third. We are her children. And she is our mother. Our protector and guide.
On her head is a crown. This crown shows her right to rule over her creation. The words mater, material and mother have the same root.
In the background we see evergreen trees. This shows the eternal nature of the life of The Empress. But it also shows her perennial giving. The mother gives all.
And there can be a problem with a mother giving all. A mother who always protects. Because mothers need to let go. Children need to grow. They need to be able to take care of themselves. And to be able to defend themselves. Children need to grow away from mom. And sometimes she makes it hard.
One more shadow side of the card is death. As the giver of life, she gives death. We see this on a narrow scale. But she sees the big picture. Where there is no death. The stream shows the flow of life. It always brings life into the world. And takes it away.
This card can have a range of meaning. Are you the mother? Do you need a mother in your life right now? What is your relationship with your own mother? With the earth? Or your body?
A mother figure may be entering your life. Or you may be taking on a mothering role. Either way remember the blessings of the role. But also take heed of the limits. Mothering has its place. We need the love of our mothers. It supports us as we grow. Gives us courage. It is what we use to believe in ourselves. Before we know how to believe in ourselves.
You may not be mothering a child. It could be a pet. Or a project needing a lot of your attention. And maybe a project you need to let go. Or to share with others. So you aren’t so burdened by the work. It takes a village to raise a child. The mother doesn’t have to go it alone. Unlike The Priestess she has a partner. We meet him next.