Tarot – The Emperor

The Emperor: The Authority of the Initiate

In the world of Tarot deck publication we are besieged with a potpourri of designer decks from non-initiates with one fetish or another. At best, they popularize the medium and at their worst, they promulgate ignorance. Either way, they are an abomination that confuses the Western Mystery Tradition with the profane world of consumer culture.

The Golden Dawn codified much of that tradition and Aleister Crowley modified some of their work to suit the nature of his own initiation. The serious student of Tarot quickly discovers the relative importance of Qabalah in its relationship to these mighty cards of the spiritual art. And it is by study of the Hermetic Qabalah that we come to the core of the Western Mystery Tradition.

Crowley is one of very few initiates to have designed a deck in modern times. This would not be published until almost 40 years after his death. In the Emperor the Master Therion presents the first card that shows the dynamic and organic nature of deep Qabalistic study. His placing of the Hebrew letter Tzaddi on the Qabalistic path of the Emperor (connecting Chokmah — the word — to Tiphareth — the higher self or Holy Guardian Angel) was profoundly inspired and a lengthy subject for study beyond the scope of this article.

But know that Tzaddi is derived from Sanskrit roots meaning Head and Age and is found in such modern words as Senate, Senior, Tsar and Caesar. The idea presented is the swift creative energy that seeds the flowering of illumination. By title, this card represents the ideation of paternal power — a power that descends from Chokmah (creative wisdom) and is exerted below the abyss to Tiphareth (the illumined being).

In divination it represents a martial energy entering into the spread due to the card’s association with Aries (ruled by Mars). This energy is either paternal and authoritative or corrupted and obfuscated by irrational impulses dependent upon dignification. What it asks is whether or not the individual is fortified and prepared to receive the higher creative impulse. If not, the creative energy from Chokmah is totally destructive. If so, the querent may be advised to proceed with a strong confidence in the matter at hand.

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