- Mountain/River - Like the Fool card, the harsh mountains may
suggest the long treacherous journey ahead. This is the second river from the Garden of
Eden. The mountains and river may also suggest that the Emperor rules over more
austere aspects of nature, to complement the reign of the Empress.
- Ram on shoulder and throne - This card is assigned to Aries in the
Golden Dawn system. The color of Aries is red and may explain the scarlet cloak.
- Waite probably associated the Emperor with the alchemical King, depicted
as a bearded man enthroned with scepter and orb (Fig 9, The Book of Lambspring
from Waite’s Hermetic Museum). This is reinforced by the white and red stones in the
crown - white and red being the fundamental, antithetical ingredients in alchemy
(Waite: The Alchemical
Writings of Edward Kelly, p 51).
The same theme of red/white is seen in the roses and lilies on the Magician card.
So this may be another hint toward the Rosicrucian/Alchemical
underpinnings of Waite’s system.
Based on original research by Robert V. O'Neill. To add to this collection of information, please email
Robert V. O'Neill.