Tarot Tales: The Empress

The Empress is all about femininity, creativity, fertility, and abundance. Astrologically, she’s deeply linked with Venus – the planet of love, beauty, bonding, and harmony.

Her energy is nurturing and compassionate. She encourages growth and fertile creativity. It’s not uncommon to meet the Empress if you have an idea brewing, or you’re beginning a new project!

In the Rider Waite Smith deck, she’s shown as a healthy woman seated on a throne, surrounded by lush greenery and a field of grain. She wears a crown of twelve stars – her connection to the twelve months of the year, and the twelve zodiac signs. This shows us she’s a human representation of the universe’s natural rhythms. In one hand, she holds a sceptre – her power and authority – while the other hand rests beside her newly pregnant belly, budding with creation.

Her robes are adorned with pomegranates, a connection to the maiden goddess Persephone. The fields of wheat around her are a connection to Persephone’s mother, Demeter, the goddess of agriculture and Summer. The Empress’s relationship with the Persephone-Demeter dynamic further shows her as a figure of sensual motherhood, or ‘Mother Nature.’

In the Fool’s Journey, the Empress follows the High Priestess. She’s the shift from the High Priestess’s inward journey of self-discovery, into the outward expression of creativity and abundance. She’s deeply feminine, but this doesn’t just mean she’s only for ‘women.’ Rather, she’s more focussed on connection and bonding, and balancing the feminine or masculine in all of us, regardless of our gender expression or identity.

The Empress card in the Thoth deck is a bit different from the traditional Rider Waite Smith deck, but still carries her powerful symbolism and meaning. She’s also considered ‘the Druidess.’

In the Thoth deck, the Empress is the Great Mother. She’s the symbol of the divine feminine principles of receptivity, intuition, and of course, creativity. This is a figure of devotion, who is looking for the balance between ‘a mother’s endless love’ and her own autonomous sexuality.

Thoth’s Empress (or Druidess) indicates birthing something new, by integrating the inside with the outside. It’s about finding the connection between these worlds, and nurturing it towards creation. This is the Great Mother after all – the one Goddess of all creation, and the elemental authority!

In her right hand, she holds the lotus flower – sacred to Isis – and a dove and a sparrow at her head-level. At her feet are another two birds – the pelican, and a white eagle on a shield. The pelican appears to be feeding her young with her heart’s blood – showing divine endless love – while the eagle symbolises the Alchemist, the archetype of transformation and forward change.

When the Empress card is drawn, it may suggest a fertile time is here, for new ideas and projects. Things will bloom and come to fruition. Trust in your creative abilities, and nurture your dreams and desires, just as a loving parent looks after a child.

The Empress Reversed

There’s likely a need to nurture yourself, or someone else in need. But the Empress will always ask you to focus on your own self-care first. This will nourish your body, mind, and spirit, and make you capable of sharing your abundant energy. When reversed, she can also highlight control. Try to fix the balance between giving care, and being over-protective!

A reversed Empress could also mean a creative block. Are you stuck in a rut? Are you pent up, or needing release in some way? The best antidote is to connect with the natural world. Head to the beach, go on a bush walk, or just lie in the sun. This is the domain of the Empress, and where you’ll heal.

Feel the sunlight. Touch the water. Taste the grain. Hear the birdsong. See the beauty.

Because just as the High Priestess is about intuition, the Empress is about the senses. She’s sensual, sexy, exploratory, and fecund. She’s the ultimate in fertile love, balance and bonding, and natural growth.

In short? She’s a total babe!


Polly is a practicing witch who primarily works with Persephone, Brigid and the Cailleach. She's the High Priestess expert on seasonal Australian practice and archetypal symbolism, and is a teacher at Witch School.