The Empress

Birth of the Triumvirate

"The word, the triad, plentitude, fecundity, Nature, generation in the three worlds.  Symbol, THE EMPRESS, a woman, winged, crowned, seated and uplifting a scepter with the orb of the world at its end:  her sign is an eagle, image of the soul and of life.  She is the mystical quintessence of the triad; she is spirituality, immortality, the Queen of Heaven."
-Eliphas Levi, from The Doctrine and Ritual of Transcendental Magic, 1854

Niki de Saint Phalle, Niki de Saint Phalle Tarot, France/United States, 1987
Emerging as one of the premiere female figures in the male dominated Pop Art movement of the 1960's, the multidisciplinary Saint Phalle worked in a multitude of mediums, from sculpture to performance art.

The Empress is the third key associated with the Major Arcana.  The Element of the Empress is Earth and the Planet is Venus.

Qualities of the Empress are Fertility, Creativity, and Abundance.  Alternate names for the Empress are Isis and The Queen.  Symbols are Twelve Stars, The Crown, The Throne, and The Shield

In German The Empress is called Die Herrscherin, Die Kaiserin, and Die Konigin.  In French, L'Imperatrice.  And in Italian, L'Imperatrice.


The Empress, in most decks, represents fertility, creativity, and divine feminine power.  She is crowned by 12 stars, marking both her connection to the mystical realm, to the zodiac, and to  the seasons -- a star for each planet and month of the year.  She wields a scepter in one hand and a shield (or sometimes an orb) in the other.  From her throne she rules over nature, creativity, and growth.  Many occultists attribute her crown and throne to the ancient worship of the goddesses Venus and Aphrodite.  In older decks, her shield bears the image of an eagle, the heraldic emblem of the Roman Empire.  In others, this shield is heart-shaped and emblazoned with the symbol of Venus.  At times, representations of Venus also appear within the stitching of her cushion or in her necklace of pearls.  Her luxurious red robes are ornamented with pomegranates (like the High Priestess's veil), symbols of fertility and rebirth.  The Empress is usually depicted surrounded by rich and fecund nature:  a verdant green forest, a winding river, swaying shafts of golden wheat.


The Empress is the cosmic mother, pregnant with life, ideas, and desires.  Her feminine power is expressed in all forms, boundlessly sexual, creative, and nurturing.  Her energy flows unbridled. She exudes abundance, beauty, and the glorious pleasures of the senses.  She points to the exquisite splendor of the natural world, the sunlit leaf, the ink-black night.  She rules over both the body and the mystic mind.  She demands connection and attention paid to the gifts of taste, touch, scent, and sound.  She calls forth for joyous birth and evolution.  Creation, in all its expressions -- the child, the rosebud, the symphony -- are all in her domain.

Sebastian Haines, Tarot of the Golden Serpent, United States, 2013
Working in oil on canvas, the contemporary artist Sebastian Haines created the paintings for his Tarot of the Golden Serpent series between 2009 and 2013.