- 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 EMPEROR is portrayed in these seven decks.
DEER MOUSE (“Structure and organization are important right now. Don’t be afraid to take on a leadership role, as you have much wisdom to offer.”)
An unexpected choice for The Emperor in some respects, the Deer Mouse does have that determination, focus, and appreciation for structure that one expects from The Emperor. Planning and responsibility are also key components here, and the illustration does convey a sense of being in charge of one’s realm.
GORILLA (“Everyone says they want to be a ruler, but I wonder how many would last a day in my world.”)
A silverback gorilla does seem like an appropriate choice for The Emperor, a character known for great strength, with great responsibility. As the leader of his tribe, the dominant male gorilla must constantly demonstrate that he is in charge, protect the group, and defend his position. I am posting a picture I took of a gorilla named Harambe at the Cincinnati Zoo. I love the expression on his face.
RAM (Earth Father): “Authority, Order, Structure, Rule, Control”
Great choice for The Emperor, especially given that the zodiac sign Aries (the Ram) is commonly associated with Key 4 in the Tarot. The attribution breaks down a little bit here with the title “Earth Father,” given that Aries is a Fire sign. The energy symbolized by the Ram – and The Emperor -- is that of authority, purpose, and leadership. Message: “Feel the support of Earth; direct your life with balance and integrity.”
The Animal-Wise Tarot (Andrews, Dragonhawk)
EAGLE (“Vision, Power, and Healing”)
Ah yes, the Eagle. Long-time symbol of imperial authority. Ted Andrews points out that “there are four categories of eagles” (The Emperor is Key 4). I did a bit of research and found that these informal categories of eagles are: snake eagles, fish (or sea) eagles, booted eagles (these have feathered lower legs), and harpy (“giant forest”) eagles.
The bald eagle shown on the Animal-Wise Tarot Emperor card belongs to the fish (or sea) eagle group. I have taken a number of pictures of bald eagles. The photo shown here was taken with a web cam at explore.org.
ZEUS (“the Father, leader, creating order and structure, the animus”)
For The Animals Divine Tarot, Lisa Hunt chooses a bull (“a solar masculine symbol signifying virility and power”) for The Emperor card. The Greek god Zeus, of course, took the shape of a white bull when he abducted Europa – and his behavior in that instance along with many others demonstrated the less appealing qualities of an Emperor personality. Even so, his qualifications for appearing on The Emperor card can hardly be disputed.
The Animism Tarot (Cheung)
KOMODO DRAGON: “strength, bravery, protection, wisdom, permanence, power”
What a marvelous choice for The Emperor! (Ted Andrews also respects the Komodo Dragon, naming it as his Knight of Ancients in the Animal-Wise Tarot). This deck doesn’t go into detail about the animal chosen for each card, electing to focus on the qualities or characteristics of the card. It’s up to us to see the connection. I will share that the Komodo Dragon is the largest living species of lizard, growing to a maximum length of ten feet (3 meters) in rare cases and weighing up to approximately 150 pounds (70 kilograms. As a result of their size, these lizards naturally dominate the ecosystems in which they live, in true Emperor style. I snapped a few photos of a Komodo Dragon at the St. Louis Zoo on one of my visits there.
LION: “Father. Authority, strength, safety, ineptitude, bad judgement.”
I know I heard a few of you muttering as you read through the previous entries, “What about the lion? The King of Beasts? Why not the lion?” Well, here you go! The Lion-Man who would be emperor. Instead of an eagle, this Emperor is shown with what I believe is a falcon or hawk. Symbolically, the falcon (like the eagle) represents victory and was considered “the king of birds” in ancient Egypt. I'm sharing one of my favorite photos of a lion, taken at the Peoria Zoo in Illinois.
I think this may be the first Animal Tarot Time post where no animal is shown on more than one of the cards: Deer Mouse, Gorilla, Ram, Eagle, Bull (Zeus), Komodo Dragon, and Lion. I have to give points for originality to the Animal Tarot Cards for Deer Mouse and The Animism Tarot for Komodo Dragon – but having said that, I love all of these depictions of Emperor-like creatures.