4: the Emperor

Master of all he surveys, ruler of the world’s minds.

(Twenty words into the four, here’s a secret: So yeah, each of these ninety cards is a trip to take, little signposts I’ve drawn for you. Open your mind, focus on them, and start asking questions about the picture. Who are they? What do they symbolize? What do they bring together? Seed crystals for connections. Make some.)


This one’s sword is more of a ruler. Decorated and chased elaborately, it measures out his will upon the planet. At least he makes the trains run on time. He’s bound to the world he thinks he rules much more intimately than he thinks he is, and may get angry every time you remind him of this fact. Airy mental Mind of sword-yellow skies to the Empress’ watery feminine twilight, he’s the era of poison that brings on the Apocalypse. Or in modern terms, break out the spin-dash ’cause you’re looking at Ivo Robotnik. Build too much and that little blue buzzsaw Sonic dude comes and collapses it. Maybe it’s not a good idea to overreach quite as far as he does.

Jagged waves ripple up and down his gown; he’s the staccato to the Empress’ legato. (You can pair them up as male and female, leftbrain and rightbrain, high-pitch to low-pitch; there’s a lot of binaries for these two sandwiched somewhere between the experience of the Universe and the fossilized corpses of the last time someone really Understood It All. Of course if they squeeze on past those two they can be unified as a triad of lovers, swirling outside of convention. What have they got hidden under those long gowns, anyway? Shh. It’d be a scandal to ask. And thus again we return to the theme the Emperor and the Empress have of social masks, facing out, to cover inner selves, facing inwards – or out; who’s on the left today and who’s on the right? Let it depend on how they relate to each other in the spread at hand, if they both show themselves.)

And how often do they take off those masks and play, anyway? Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown, but more to the point, that head is *busy* with managing all the details of the Empire. A good Emperor knows when to lean back and let the affair manage itself, to be confident that those below him will do their jobs well. Is this one a good one? Do the people he rules like his effects, or is the change from one regime to the next like the distant noises of someone else’s weather? Better that than to have them on the point of revolt; for this captain of Industry, benign incompetence is vastly preferred to malevolent idiocy as far as the hand on the wheel of state is concerned.