- Animal Tarot Cards by Doreen Virtue and Radleigh Valentine (Hay House)
- The Animal Totem Tarot by Leeza Robertson; illustrated by Eugene Smith (Llewellyn Publications)
- The Animal Wisdom Tarot by Dawn Brunke; illustrated by Ola Liola (CICO Books)
- The Animal-Wise Tarot by Ted Andrews (Dragonhawk Publishing)
- The Animals Divine Tarot by Lisa Hunt (Llewellyn Worldwide)
- The Animism Tarot by Joanna Cheung (Self-Published)
- Tarot of the Animal Lords with artwork by Angelo Giannini (Lo Scarabeo)
To read my previous posts in this series, enter “Animal Tarot Time” in the search field on the main page of the blog.
Now let’s look at how THE EMPRESS is portrayed in these seven decks.
ANGORA RABBIT (“Time to take action. Abundance and prosperity. Pregnancy. Creativity. Starting something new.”) We can understand the choice of a rabbit for this card when we read in the guidebook that The Empress, in contrast to The High Priestess, says, “Okay, that’s enough thinking! Time to hop to it!” Rapid movement and jumping in with both feet are actually not phrases I normally associate with The Empress card. She always seems somewhat sedentary to me and is often depicted as pregnant, sitting in a garden in the midst of Nature, looking benevolent. However, the association of rabbits with fertility and creativity cannot be overlooked.
COW: The Cow is most certainly an iconic symbol of feminine energy, a creature whose milk nourishes not only her own children, but the children of many other species, human beings included. Here we have a lovely Scottish Highland Cow resting in open fields among the flowers, the mountains behind her. I like the way Leeza Robertson describes the energy of this card as “bountiful possibilities poised on the stage of expectancy.” The words “possibilities” and “expectancy” are keys to understanding the nature of The Empress card. This is not about a “finished product” but about that which is “on its way.”
COW (Earth Mother): Instead of the Scottish Highland Cow, this time we have what I’m going to guess could be a _Jersey_. Keynotes for this card in this deck are “Nourishment, Protection, Goodness, Love.” This serene, gentle cow rests in a lush, grassy field surrounded by flowers. She represents creative growth and the need to nourish and support all of our creations. The author’s MESSAGE: “Trust life; share, nurture, and participate with delight.”
DOLPHIN: Creativity, Fertility, and New Promise
For Ted Andrews, the dolphin represents the energy of The Empress. He notes that dolphins embody three of the most ancient and powerful creative forces: water, sound, and breath. In Greek tradition, the dolphin was sacred to Aphrodite, goddess of love, passion, sensuality, and fertility. Known for its ability to communicate, the dolphin encourages us to ask what our words and thoughts are creating for us.
HERA: the Mother, nurturer, fertile ideas, the anima
For this deck The Empress is represented by the Greek mother goddess Hera, who presided over women, marriage, and childbirth. Notably (considering the appearance of the Cow in two other Empress cards so far), Hera is accompanied by a cow – “a lunar animal, associated with the fertile powers of the earth.” Another animal included on this card is the peacock, sacred to Hera, symbolizing beauty and dignity.
THE GOLDEN TIGER: “She is life: the ground that supports us, the fire that warms us, the trees that shade us, the food that nourishes us and the very air we breathe.” (Cheung) Representing passion, delight, beauty, patience, loyalty, and protection, a Golden Tiger was chosen for The Empress in this deck. Gentle with her young and ferocious with anyone or anything that tries to harm them, the tiger breaks the pattern set so far by the other animal decks, featuring a fierce predator rather than a more docile, benign creature.
SHE-WOLF: Another top predator who, like the tiger, is known for showing great gentleness and protection to her offspring, while showing no mercy to her natural prey or to enemies that seek to harm the cubs. Keywords from the guidebook: “Mother. Intelligence, practicality.” Reversed: “lack of offspring, indecision.” This beautiful arctic wolf is shown in the company of not only two cubs but butterflies and a toucan. I checked (because that’s how I roll), and found that toucans are native to the Neotropics, from Southern Mexico, through Central America, into South America south to northern Argentina. Not many arctic wolves in those areas. But that’s part of the fun of this deck. These images are not meant to be illustrations in a natural history textbook.
The tally for animals portraying The High Priestess in these seven decks:
Cow: 3 (counting Hera)
I have to say the cow is a very logical, meaningful choice for this card. I don’t deny that. But part of me loves the idea of a tiger or wolf as the Mother of All Mothers (so to speak). The dolphin and rabbit are also appealing choices. Which do you prefer?