The Empress Tarot Card Meanings (Upright & Reversed)
Last Updated: February 28, 2023
The Empress is card number 3 (III) in modern cartomantic tarot decks and the 4th major arcana trump card (The Fool, number 0, is the first card). Divination practices such as cartomancy can help us make decisions, offer guidance, and help us tune into our intuition when we are at a crossroads in our lives. Understanding the meanings of each tarot card can help you sharpen your interpretative skills so you can get the most out of your readings.
In the Tarot, the figures represent archetypes and energies more than literal meanings; hence the Death card doesn’t mean actual physical death, but an end of a cycle and more importantly rebirth. In a similar way, The Empress is the archetypal feminine energy, present in all people female, male and non-binary. Her energy is that of the female ruler archetype, the mother and natural creator.
For many tarotists, this card links to the ideas of care, nurturing, creation, fertility and fulfilment. She is shown sitting in abundant, luxurious vegetation, symbolizing her deep connection to nature and the Earth.
In this article, we will explore the different meanings of the Empress Tarot card in various reading contexts as well as the different advice it can offer.
4 Quick takeaways about this tarot card
- The Empress can represent new projects and creative growth.
- This card can also indicate that you need to focus on your home, nurturing aspects and family life.
- The Empress can also symbolize abundance or luxury.
- Finally, The Empress can represent a need for self-care and self-love in your life.
The Empress tarot card key correspondences
abundance, creation, divine feminine power, nurturing
overbearingness, smothering, insecurity, instability
|Yes or No|
Taurus / Cancer
Light aspect: The Queen, The Mother, The Goddess / Shadow aspect: The Martyr, The Hedonist
April 21st to May 20th
Aphrodite, Freya, Hathor, Bastet
L’Impératrice (Tarot de Marseille) and Isis-Urania (Egyptian Tarot).
What does the upright Empress (tarot card III) mean?
In Latin, major arcana translates to “big secrets” and each of the 22 cards in this section of the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck represents an important life lesson we must all face at some point. The Empress, arcanum 3, is no different.
The Empress appearing upright can be a piece of advice to embody that energy of nurturing care. Who needs looking after? Yourself? Or someone close to you? Or perhaps even a project you’ve been dreaming of, that could use some TLC to get off the ground. Creativity cannot exist without subsequent nourishment.
This card has a strong link to nature and Mother Earth. Maybe you could do with sometimes nourishing yourself via the act of caring for plants or spending time outside.
If pulled in the upright position, The Empress is associated with abundance, creation, divine feminine power, and nurturing.
What does the upright Empress mean in a love reading?
In a Love and Relationship reading, this card signifies a supportive, nurturing partner. The Empress’ strong links to the earth indicate a sensual component in this relationship. If the person in mind is going through a hard time, this can be friendly advice to embody The Empress and to take care of them in a way that feels stabilizing to them.
What does the upright Empress mean in a career reading?
In regards to your career, this card could mean a certain amount of generosity and support; either the energy you are currently giving a specific project or colleague, or the energy you’re receiving from them.
This is generally a very positive card to draw in regards to your career, signifying that you are in a place of support and creativity. Keep that energy flowing, and maybe get a new plant for your workspace, or make some baked goods to bring in.
What does the upright Empress mean for prosperity?
In regards to prosperity, this idea of generosity could mean that now is a good time to share and support your loved ones or causes that are close to your heart. Maybe also have a look at your finances and determine how much of your budget is going towards things that truly nourish your life, and how you could improve on that.
Do you have an allocated part of your budget for investing in self-nourishment? This can look very different for everyone, it can be therapy, a gym membership, a pottery class, etc.
What does the upright Empress mean in a health reading?
In a health tarot reading, drawing The Empress can be telling you to focus on care – take a closer look at your diet, for example. Are you just eating as fuel to keep going, keep working? Or are you actually thinking about nourishment and love for your body when you make yourself food?
If you were your own child, how would you feed yourself? Would you run yourself a hot bath? Take yourself on a nice walk on Sunday to make yourself feel calm and grounded before the week starts again? The Empress is a maternal archetype, so try and focus on mothering yourself a little.
The Empress as feelings/emotions
If you are asking the tarot how someone feels about you, drawing The Empress card suggests this is someone that has the most loving and nurturing of feelings towards you! They want to treat you well and constantly make you feel good and well.
There will be an essence of protectiveness, and an overall sense of unconditional love.
The Empress as person
As a personality archetype, The Empress card represents someone motherly, warm, kind, confident, and even gentle. Due to their sensitive nature, this will be someone that will like the nurture and make sure those around them as happy and safe.
They will often dedicate themselves to causes that help others, and will always be proud of the work they do and achieve as they are known for having a very focused attitude.
They may typically be someone that’s very creative and enjoys art in most, if not all, forms.
The Empress as advice
If you are asking the tarot for advice regarding a specific situation in your life, pulling the Empress card is advice to take a gentle, almost nurturing, approach to the situation at hand.
Kindness and sensitivity are the vibes at hand, now isn’t the time to be popping off. Be loving, be open, be protective, and be what is typically seen as ‘mother-like qualities’. A softer approach is your way forward here.
What is the zodiac or astrological sign associated with the Empress?
The Empress card is connected to the zodiac signs Taurus and Cancer! Taurus, one of the earth signs, is known for its comforting and grounding abilities, its natural nurturing nature, and its willingness to provide endless comfort to those around them, much like the Empress herself!
Cancer, one of the water signs, is mostly known for its emotional and sensitive side. They feel things deeply and are usually governed by how they feel, allowing their emotional state to rule over them and drive their decision-making.
Is the Empress card a yes or no tarot card?
The Empress is typically seen as a ‘yes’ card of the tarot! Especially in things related to creativity, growth, and positive development. The Empress usually brings along with her abundance and ‘fertility’ in all senses (not just in the physical state), so a ‘yes’ from the Empress is one filled with encouragement.
Below are some of my interpretations, as an experienced tarot practitioner, based on different types of questions:
- “Will I get the job?” The Empress offers stability when it comes to your career, and may point towards a job where you feel both nurtured but also like you have a lot to give yourself, knowing that you’ll be fully appreciated and respected. You’ll be feeling a positive boost from this job, and all of your passions, thoughts, and ideas will do wonders in your work-related projects here! This is a job to feel comfortable in.
- “Is this new person in my life good for me?” Yup! This is someone you’ll find a lovely harmonious connection with. This will be a bond that brings abundance and blessings galore. This will be someone that you can hold a lot of space for, as they will do the exact same for you, and may also help you to be open to your true emotional state, and learn that accepting our feelings (and not hiding from them) is a strength, and that strength can open so many doors that lead to personal growth, pleasure, and good ol’ happy days. Lean on this person if you need to, they’ll help ‘mother’ you as much as you need!
- “Will I achieve my current goals?” This card placement shares with you that there may be underlying, hidden themes we are not aware of, but the conscientious ever-present aspect from the literal Moon, no matter the phase it is in, lends its support and favor here.
- “Should I start my own business?” Gooooo ahead, do it! Yaaaas kween! The Empress is here to tell you that this little business venture of yours will be full of positive growth, and that growth will indeed be long-term. The outcome? Fruitful. Abundance is the word of the day and you have the ability to grow something beautiful, so follow your intuition and do what feels right!
The Empress Reversal meanings
The reversed meaning of The Empress can indicate an unbalanced embodiment of her energy; either too much care, leading to smothering or too little care, leading to neglect. You could be too focused on other people’s needs, disregarding your own in the process and getting on their nerves by being too involved in their business. You could have also become too dependent on someone else in having your needs met; how can you shift the balance back into being your own Empress to yourself?
The Empress is associated with overbearingness, smothering, insecurity, and instability if pulled in the reversed position.
What does the inverted Empress mean in a love reading?
In a Love and Relationships spread, The Empress reversed points to a lack of romance. If you’re in a relationship, then maybe a date night is much needed! If you’re single, then don’t forget the importance of dating yourself. It can sound scary, but being comfortable with the idea of taking yourself out on a date will radically improve your relationship with yourself. By nourishing your relationship with self-love, you amplify your capacity to receive love from others.
What does the upside-down Empress mean in a career reading?
The Empress is a card of such security and abundance, that even when reversed in a Career or Prosperity reading, it doesn’t signal anything too dramatic. However, this can point to a sense of insecurity, maybe you still have some money wounds to heal and some shadow work to be done in regards to inherited relationships around financial matters. About your career specifically, this could mean that you’re feeling like your efforts to nourish your career are fruitless at the moment.
What does the reversed Empress mean in a health reading?
Perhaps you’ve been neglecting caring for yourself in the ways you need, or maybe there’s health troubles in regards to fertility issues. In any case, the idea of motherhood is here, but only you can say if it’s parenting yourself or an actual child. The Empress also being linked to Mother Earth, this can be a sign to turn towards more natural remedies in looking after your health and to strive for a more holistic approach.
How to use the Empress card in your Spellwork
The Empress is a great signifier card for spellwork around birthing – now obviously if you want an actual physical pregnancy then maybe take that up with someone apart from your Tarot cards! But in a figurative sense, if you’re trying to birth a creative project or a new life for yourself, The Empress can be a great help. For this creativity spell, we’ll be using an actual plant to be grown from seed, as The Empress is the fertile queen of nature!
Take a piece of paper, and write out on it what you’re trying to create in the present tense as if it already exists, and how it makes you feel, how your senses are activated. For example “I have created handmade candles that smell gorgeous and look so pretty, and gifting them to my loved ones brings them great joy” or “I have filled my sketchbook with watercolor landscapes of my favorite places to go and sit outside, and flipping through it reminds me of the quality time I’ve spent with myself”.
Fold this piece of paper and set it in your designated pot or hole in your garden. Place a seed of your choice (pick something that resonates for you, or that you’re intuitively drawn to) on top and cover it with soil, while concentrating on imagining that feeling described in your intention.
Place the pot somewhere with access to natural light and as you water it over the next few weeks, tap back into that feeling. If you’ve planted it outside and there’s enough rain for you to not need to water, make a point of visiting that spot regularly and touching the earth while meditating on your intention. Watch your plant grow with your goal!
The Empress symbolism with archetype psychology
The Empress is the Mother archetype, one of the fundamental feminine archetypes in the trio that is the Maiden, the Mother and the Crone. These three archetypes speak to the cycle of life and creation.
The Mother archetype, like all archetypes, in the Tarot and elsewhere, contains light and dark. The light side is creative, life-giving and affirming, nurturing and nourishing. The dark side can be overly protective, controlling, limiting and can fall into self-imposed martyrdom.
As Kim Krans says “The Mother wraps her loving arms around her creations and begins to grip what she meant to set free. The Mother both nurtures and prohibits growth. She gives, yet clings. She creates, yet restricts. Amid this complex energy, The Mother holds the key to the eternal challenge of love.”.
The Empress challenges us to work between this dynamic and to get comfortable with this paradox.
A Poem to remember the upright meanings
Poems can be a good way to remember information because they often use rhyme and rhythm, which can make them easier to memorize.
Additionally, poems often use vivid imagery and figurative language, which can help to make the information more interesting and engaging.
The Empress brings abundance and fertility,
A strong woman of class, power and royalty.
A motherly figure, nurturing and kind,
She brings a nurturing energy to our mind.
The Empress is a symbol of manifestation,
A reminder of our own inner power and passion.
To create the life we desire and need,
We must take action and plant the seed.
She encourages us to think big and bold,
To accept the gifts that life has to hold.
To embrace the joys of beauty and love,
To live in peace and harmony above.
The Empress brings abundance, joy and peace,
A reminder to stay in our power and never cease.
To live the life of our dreams and desires,
The Empress card is a beautiful sign of fire!
A Poem to remember the reversal meanings
Insecurity and disharmony,
Laziness, a dreadful plight,
The Empress reversed can be seen,
In a state of darkness and night.
Her power and wealth are fading fast,
Her throne is crumbling away,
Apathy and stagnation are the order of the day,
A world of stagnation and dismay.
Laziness and passivity,
Will take their toll on the throne,
The Empress reversed is a sign,
That all progress is not shown.
In conclusion, the Empress tarot card is a powerful symbol of, creation, feminine power, and nurturing. When this card appears in your reading, it is often a sign that there is something or someone in your life that needs som TLC, some attention and some nurturing.
Despite its association with mysticism and occultism, the tarot has grown to become much more than a simple “fortune-telling” tool. For many tarot readers, it is a complex system made of symbolic imagery and psychological considerations (Jungian archetypes for example) that can be used for self-exploration, meditation, and personal transformation.
The 22 major arcana cards each correspond to different aspects of the human experience that are universal. They represent the different stages of the “hero’s journey”: our biggest challenges and life lessons, as well as our highest aspirations and greatest potential.
Have you ever had a reading where the Empress card appeared? What was the outcome? What does Empress mean to you personally? How do you interpret this card in your own tarot practice? Share your thoughts and experiences with me in the comments below.
If you want to know more about the different tarot cards, feel free to check out our complete list of all 78 tarot cards and their meanings.
Written By Daisy Forrest
Daisy Forrest is a queer, neurodivergant witch, astrologer and writer based in France. She is a qualified workshop organizer and space holder, who’s currently merging her passion for IFS therapy and astrology into her signature coaching offering called Selves. She’s on a journey to heal generational trauma through astrology, tarot, witchcraft, therapy and manifestation. You can find her writing about these themes on Instagram @Daisy Forrest, or on her website daisyforrest.com
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