Episode 2 of the Tarot Table Talk Podcast

The Emperor

You can listen to Episode 2 of the Tarot Table Talk Podcast—Observing The Emperor—by clicking here, or you may read the transcript below. A complete listing of the Tarot Table Talk Podcast episodes may be found on the Tarot Insights website.

Episode 2, in MP3 format is 13.5 MB and approximately 10 minutes long.

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Welcome to Episode 2 of Tarot Table Talk. I’m Susan Gold. This podcast provides hands-on exercises for experienced tarot enthusiasts as well as those who are new to the cards.

In addition to various exercises to deepen your understanding of individual cards, there will be a series of episodes that demonstrate ways you can use the tarot to inspire both personal and creative writing. There will also be another series of self-reflective exercises to help you celebrate the Celtic holidays.

Today I have an exercise to guide you into The Emperor from the Rider-Waite deck. In the last episode we looked at The Fool, who has always been a favorite of mine. I have to admit that I’ve never been a fan of The Emperor. Intellectually speaking, I do appreciate the stability and security he represents, the ability to be assertive and take control, but the father archetype pushes buttons for me, and I’ve never been big on power and authority.

Interestingly, after writing this exercise, I felt my feelings for The Emperor shift a bit. I developed some empathy for him, and I hope you will get to know him as a more multi-faceted character as well.

This exercise is similar to a creative visualization except that it will not be a personal self-reflective journey. Your primary role in this exercise is as an observer.

I will begin by describing the card in detail and then suggest scenarios and possibilities for you to imagine. Hopefully stories will emerge. If you like to write fiction, you might want to have a pen and pad of paper nearby to jot some notes. You might choose to have The Emperor in front of you, or you can close your eyes—if you’re not driving—and simply listen.

If you don’t usually work with the Rider-Waite deck, no worries, you may think of this as a comparative study.

* * *

Here we go.

The Emperor is dressed in metal armor underneath his red robes. He has a golden crown or skullcap with stones, white hair that runs past his broad shoulders, and a white waterfall of a beard. He doesn’t look as old as his white hair might suggest. There’s nothing frail or ashen about The Emperor. He is as stolid as the gray throne on which he sits. And speaking of his throne, those rams’ heads that adorn the armrests and back of the throne send a less-than-subtle message to those who approach. Watch out for The Emperor’s disposition. He’s all Aries.

If you do get the courage to approach him, The Emperor faces you squarely, his expression somewhat stern, or is he squinting because of the sun? In one hand rests a golden orb, and in the other he grips, rather tightly, a golden scepter that looks much like an ankh.

The Emperor has had his throne brought outside his castle, with much trouble, I imagine, so that he can sit in the desert. Behind him are rocky, barren mountains and a thin stream. The sky is oddly reddish orange. His throne rests on a thick platform. Can you hear his footsteps as he crunches through the sand?

The Emperor’s posture does not reveal much about what he is thinking. It is hard to imagine him cracking a smile or bouncing a child on his knee, but he is human, and to find out more about him, we need to look into his past and pry into more private moments.

How far back should we go? Let’s start by imagining him in boyhood exploring the desert lands that surround the castle. Does he go hunting for snakes and lizards? Rock climbing? If he comes across what he suspects is a geode, does he kick it aside? Rush home to his father with it, or does he crack it open with a hammer and gather the pieces for a box he keeps under his bed?

Take a moment to imagine The Emperor as a boy.

Now let’s move into adolescence. What activities do you suppose he got involved with in high school? Was he in The History of War club? The guitar club? What was his favorite subject? Would there be any pictures of him in the yearbook? Can you imagine The Emperor playing hacky sack with the guys? Or is that all wrong? Football, maybe? Would his classmates have voted him mostly like to become The Emperor? What did the inside of his locker look like? His backpack?

Take a moment to imagine The Emperor’s teen years.

And how about The Emperor’s family? What do you suppose his mother was like? His father? Does he have siblings? And what has their relationship been like? Does The Emperor have a child with The Empress? Or a step-child? If so, what kind of father is he? Can you see all of them sitting down to a family holiday meal?

Take a moment to imagine The Emperor’s family.

And what about The Emperor in love? Was there someone before The Empress? Can you see him playing Frisbee with a girlfriend in the park or taking her in his embrace? Or maybe The Emperor is bisexual or gay. Has there been a special man in his life? Or is The Empress the love of his life? Imagine them together in some private moment. Is there affection there? Respect? Love or lust?

Take a moment to imagine The Emperor in love and/or marriage.

Now let’s get to the basic human side of The Emperor. Can you see him stooped over, clipping his toenails or flossing his teeth? How about in the car of a roller coaster? What is The Emperor’s laugh like? Does he yell when he gets angry? Or does he get silent? Imagine him tucked in bed in the middle of the night.

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Think about something that has been weighing on your mind. Explain it to The Emperor. What does he say to you?

The transcript for this journey with The Emperor is posted at tarot-table-talk.com. I invite you to write in with any discoveries you made about The Emperor. Big thanks to my husband, Jared Simpson, who created the theme song for this podcast. He’s titled it, “The Tarot Shuffle.”

Stay tuned for the next episode of Tarot Table Talk, and thanks for listening!

One Response to “Episode 2 of the Tarot Table Talk Podcast”

  1. Carole Says:

    I’m not usually a fan of the Emperor either, and my best impression of him comes when I identify him with King Arthur, a man of strengths and flaws. Through this exercise, I found pictures forming in my head of a contemporary Emperor type guy going through his backpack and locker, eating and talking at his dining room table, flossing in front of the bathroom mirror. I got a strange sense of how my stereotypical notion of the Emperor could morph into a more fluid idea of a regal but human character. Still powerful, but having to work at it. I now see in him a vigilance that comes from vulnerability and experience, something I would like to feel myself when I have a difficult job to do, or when I feel threatened. I liked this exercise, it really gave me new insights, and while I don’t exactly feel an affinity for him, I can say that I would like to cultivate in myself the Emperor’s determination to stay grounded and to keep my territory in order.

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