The Empress is the 3rd card in the Major Arcana. She is a symbol of feminine strength and power. She represents the power of creativity, fertility and abundance. She is an especially powerful symbol for females – showing that women don’t need to act masculine in order to be strong.
“Positive: It’s appropriate or even necessary to be involved with healing and nurturing now. You have the strength and awareness to protect or heal yourself or others. Go ahead and do it.
Upright: You are nurturing someone else. The nurturing can take a very obvious or tangible form. This could involve giving a massage, holding someone, bringing over chicken soup, or leaving someone alone if that’s what she needs. it could also take the form of giving someone loving energy in an intangible form. The card implies that you are aware of what she needs and able to give it to her.” – Gail Fairfield
As usual for me, the appearance of The Empress made me cringe just a bit. I have become more comfortable with her but there are times when I really don’t feel I connect with her energy. I just don’t see myself as maternal. My energies and personality are not the type traditionally associated with The Empress. I have a much more aggressive, even combative approach to life. I have come to appreciate the benefits of a more Empress-like approach to life but haven’t been very successful actually implementing that approach in my own life. Who knows, perhaps that is the lesson I need to learn in this lifetime.
Of course the ironic thing is that much of my day-to-day life lately is nothing but nurturing and caring for an elderly mom-in-law. In many ways, I have become the mother in this relationship. I am not especially happy with the situation but I felt that I owed it to her after all she has done for us. One of the things I am finding interesting is the realization that one of my biggest problem with the Empress’ sphere of influence is that it doesn’t offer much in the way of external validation. It’s not like working outside the home or attending school – there are no professional evaluations or grades offered. You have to trust that you are doing things the best you can and that you are making a difference. Sometimes you might receive some words of thanks for recognition from friends or relatives who are familiar with the situation but for the most part this really is a case of being an unsung hero.
I know many books, articles and probably even doctoral theses have been written on the topic of how our society devalues traditionally feminine traits and qualities. Everyone actually needs them and benefits from them but few take the time to offer recognition and acknowledgement for the services rendered. How often do we see situations like that of Betty Broderick – a woman who supported her husband while he was in school and building his career only to be supplanted by a trophy wife once he actually achieved his goal. Her response (killing the hubby and his new wife) might have been over the top but I think on some level, many of us understood what drove her even if we did not condone her actions. On The Simpsons, Marge’s efforts and contributions are often ignored, devalued and mocked by her husband and children. Although her enabling and over-protectiveness often contribute to the madness, and she is sometimes given the opportunity to show her strength and power in the family, she is sometimes portrayed as an object of derision. How often do mothers sacrifice their personal ambitions and dreams for the good of their children and family only to be ignored, unappreciated, pitied, mocked or even reviled by the children.
When I consider things from the larger perspective I realize it’s not the Empress and her energies that I dislike, it’s the fact that they are so devalued by society. My own issues have created a desire to be on the side of the winner or authority figure. It’s my method of self-protection. If I’m not connected with the weaker or less powerful side, then I feel safe. It’s no surprise the I was raised in a family where my father was the dominant, domineering and bullying authority figure. My mother was often there to offer love and support but she was essentially powerless in that equation. My need to avoid being in that position has unfortunately also translated into my avoiding the Empress energies as well. In so doing, I’ve denied myself the joys and pleasures of expressing that side of myself.
If nothing else, the current care-taking and nurturing experiences I’ve been forced to explore are opening me up to another side of myself. I may never find myself being totally at home with The Empress and her nurturing, abundant and supportive energies but I am learning to embrace them. I’m growing a bit more comfortable with them and find it a bit of a challenge, but then again I’ve always enjoyed a challenge. The images on both these cards offer a sense of a giving, nurturing and healing nature. I know that those aspects are part of me – I’m just very wary of showing them because I’m afraid of taken advantage of or being exploited. It is very scary for me to be that open and giving. However if I’m honest with myself, all my tough gal posturing is merely protective covering. And I’m not sure I actually fool anyone, certainly not those who truly know me. Maybe I just need to be more accepting and realize that I’m not helping myself by denying or hiding this aspect of my nature. I need to embrace my inner and outer Empress.