Birth Card Notes:
Death / Emperor

Death / Emperor


Imagery — Things to Look at and Contemplate:

    Postures — riding / sitting
    (Changing vs. maintaining, future vs. present)

    Colors — black and white / red and orange
    (Stark and minimal vs. passionate and full-blown)

    Clothing — armor only / armor, robe and crown
    (Personal, intimate and absolute vs. formal, ceremonial and imperious)

    Symbols —

      horse / throne
      (things as they will be vs. things as they are)

      banner / orb and scepter
      (different symbols of the same higher authority in whose name both perform their respective functions)

    Landscapes — complex / simple
    (detailed reality vs. abstract principle)


    Scorpio (Death) — dark, deep, cold, seductive, frightening

    Aries (Emperor) — bright, clear, hot, attractive, reassuring


    Anarchy vs. Order

    Democracy vs. Hierarchy

    Necessity vs. Logic

Death and The Emperor have in common the qualities of polar absolutes: both are crystal clear in the definition of their function, territory and authority; neither can be moderated or softened in the performance of their duties; each balances the other perfectly — one deconstructs and wipes away, the other organizes and establishes. They are both utterly dependable.

The Emperor makes Death lawful, and gives him pride of place in the scheme of things. Death makes everything mutable, so that the law itself is constantly changing, adaptive and alive.

The Emperor is armored, a warrior in the service of the light. His job and responsibility is to make sense of things, to bring order out of chaos, to refute the bogus, to make peace between the usual and the exception. The Emperor permits no secret or special powers to challenge the authority of his law. His motto is: "There's a perfectly good explanation for everything."

Death is also armored, a warrior in the service of the dark. His job is to establish the edge of the known, and to push everything over that edge into mystery. He unfurls the banner of the realm of darkness, in which the rules are so different from those of the kingdom of light that they seem like chaos. He is the master of the unknown and the fear and adventure of the unknown, and his banner is the veil of the unknown.

Death pulls the rug out from under the feet of all comfortable assumptions and established procedures, and sends them tumbling into the abyss. He is the ultimate anarchist against whose activity all laws are meant to protect. He makes the possible The Empress' continuous production of life, and The Emperor's continuous organization of life, by removing it as fast as it is created. Without the bottomless pit of mystery, the known and knowable universe would choke on itself and grind to a halt.

Unintegrated and imperfectly realized, The Emperor is a tyrant and stick-in-the-mud, controlling and manipulative, unable to let things take their course or go their own way. He equates mystery with ignorance, and can be afraid of the dark. What he doesn't know or can't account for he believes does not exist. He resents criminals and upholds the established order.

Death can be vicious and gratuitously cruel. He will make false claims and promises, and spread ruin and upheaval wantonly. He has no fear of consequences, and his reasons for things can be akin to madness. He supports any kind of change for its own sake, cloaking anarchist impulses in a cracked or specious reasonableness.

Together, they make life both orderly and fresh, peaceful without tyranny, prosperous without stagnation, always believable but constantly fascinating. Together, their motto is: "The only things you can depend on are death and taxes."

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Death / Emperor

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More Birth Card Notes:

Wheel of Fortune / Magician Justice / High Priestess Hanged Man / Empress Temperance / Hierophant Devil / Lovers Tower / Chariot Star / Strength Moon / Hermit Sun / Wheel / Magician Judgement / High Priestess World / Empress


Written material by Wald and Ruth Ann Amberstone, Copyright The Tarot School.
Birth Card icon by Robert M. Place, Copyright The Tarot School.
Card images are from the Universal Waite Tarot Deck, Copyright US Games Inc.