Learning to read tarot cards both upright and reversed can affect the meaning of a reading as its influence over an interpretation often changes. My personal experience has been to always allow the tarot to express itself, and in this way, I believe, we as tarot readers are encouraged to broaden, improve and develop our skills, insights and accuracy.
For comparison, I discuss images from the B.P. Grimaud, 1969. Tarot of Marseilles, France and Rider Deck Visual Oracle Lifetime License 16.3.28. Both representations are exquisite and creative; lending themselves to a very satisfying continuous study of meaning and guidance.
The Empress III in the Major Arcana is depicted almost invariably as a female figure of grace, self-confidence and productiveness. She manifests the physical, emotional and mental aspects of the Feminine Principles of wisdom, understanding, creativity, nurturing, abundance. The Empress III shows us which human drives underscore all balanced growth, both inner and outer harmony and are fundamental to our sense of well-being, as both individuals and as a groups. In a reading or in study, The Empress III delivers these valuable elements into the lives of all those under her influence; into the realms of our work and career, homelife and domesticity, artistic and leisure pursuits.
The Empress III: Upright.
In the illustration of The Empress: Marseilles we see as a wise, regal, authoritative, composed and mature woman. She appears confident of her position and station in life; she is both powerful and empowering; well-dressed and full-bodied she seems to pregnant with potential. The Empress: Marseilles appears in dynamic and bold colours of large vigorous shapes and patterns that are fundamental to interpreting The Tarot of Marseilles, symbolically and metaphorically.
The Empress: Rider is a graceful, genteel, youthful and sensuous figure who is seen completely at ease surrounded by and presiding over, nature’s teeming abundance; she is Mother Nature and symbolic of the well-spring of all physical life. She too, appearing full-bodied and perhaps pregnant, demonstrates with her raised Scepter the power she commands over her domain and communicates confidence, happiness, tranquility and glowing health that comes with empowerment.
The Empress: Marseilles is coloured in royal blue, red and gold. The dark royal blue tunic completely covers her torso, arms and thighs; her 1st, 2nd and 3rd Chakras are both influenced and protected by her station in life. Royal blue is, as it suggestion, of a person of exceptional breeding, unquestionable integrity, strength of character, exceptional intuition and owning great powers of observation. Royal blue signifies the capacity to work from the right brain and from the deepest levels of consciousness; suggesting a mind filled with deep knowing and creativity.
The under-skirt of The Empress: Marseilles is ‘fire-engine’ red suggesting that under her regal manner there lies a deeply passionate, energetic and exuberant personality. The red skirt falls gently over her legs and feet and covers the ground all around her; directly connecting her to the Earth’s energies. Red is also the colour of the 1st Chakra indicating her innate ability to connect to the processes of abundance and mature capacity to satisfy all her own basic needs, and to instinctively protect those in her care. The royal blue tunic enveloping the red skirt, serves to keep her fierier traits sufficiently under control. Her long, white hair flows freely from beneath the large crown, representing elegance, purity and goodness. The Empress: Marseilles is often portrayed as a Defender of the Rights of her People.
By contrast, The Empress: Rider wears a softly flowing white gown, often considered the colour of perfection, purity, wisdom and successful beginnings. The pomegranate-flower motif signifies life, marriage and rebirth. Her robe cascades softly about her form and falls to the ground. The fluidity of her robe seamlessly connects her to the ‘ebb and flow’ of the natural environment; it mirrors the movement of the waterfall and river to suggest the deeply nourishing effect of gracious and healthy emotions. And, we are reminded of The Rider Tarot’s The High Priestess II.
The Empress: Rider sits on sumptuous sofa surrounded by the abundance of nature; her throne and her domain. The red sofa-base represents the 1st (or Root) Chakra, relating to strength, determination, security, firm purpose and a sense of belonging. The orange cushion represents the 2nd chakra and is the ‘seat’ of the healthy emotions and relationships, sexuality and sensuality. The yellow-gold of the ‘sky’ and of her luxuriant hair implies a high mental vibration and considerable self-confidence.
The solid throne of The Empress: Marseilles, by comparison, is beige; a colour that implies conservative flexibility and dependability. Beige is not an assertive colour and takes away none of her force and presence. The back and sides of her throne look like the wings of some giant bird and imitates the Golden Eagle on her shield which she embraces securely at her side. Birds generally represent messages from spirit. The Eagle soars higher in the heavens than all other birds and is a symbol of wo/man’s connection with the Divine. Her neck-chain, cummerbund, crown, staff and the plant growing at her feet, are gold. Gold symbolizes wisdom, compassion, courage, magic and wealth. The Royal Crown is symbolic of her legitimate right to rule, power and virtue. Her Staff signals royalty and divinity.
The Empress: Rider wears a Triple-crown decorated with 12 sparkling white stars to represent the 12 signs of the Zodiac; while her pearl necklace signifies the 7 primary planets of our Solar System. Her Crown and necklace reveal her knowledge and skill of the astrological and astronomical arts and sciences – and of the cosmic world – and her understanding of how these influences impact the natural, physical world. The Venus the planet of beauty, love and sensuality and the glyph on her shield shows she is mistress of wise and physical love. The Empress raises her Staff high in her right hand, level to her Triple crown and directly above her heart-shaped shield of Venus, bringing attention to her influence over all three realms.
The Empress: Rider looks at directly at the reader and querent, as is typical of many of the figures in Rider Deck. Many of The Major Arcana in Tarot of Marseilles however, express subtle physical relationships, simply and effectively expressed through facial expressions and body language. The Empress: Marseilles sits contentedly on her throne and appears to be casting a loving look in the direction of her Emperor IV who looks candidly and devotedly back. In that exchange, we feel The Empress: Marseilles is protected and cared for; and knows her love is returned.
Thanks for visiting!
Martha Adams 2016 ©
Reading tarot for others (and occasionally myself) is exciting, inspiring and very gratifying. Over the years (decades) I have had the very good fortune to witness the timely insights, information and guidance, the ‘reality check’, answers or solutions that can bring ease and hope to my client.