In standard Tarot, 'The Empress' is one of two female archetypes, the other being 'The High Priestess', who represents the mysterious, Unknown side of female nature, while the Empress represents the 'other side' of female nature. Femininity, fertility, abundance, motherhood, and creativity are all associated with the Empress. She is the embodiment of Mother Nature following the natural rhythms and cycles of the earth and reminding us of the importance of nature in our lives.
depictions of 'The Empress' she is a strong, queen like figure. Originally
in Marseille Tarot many aspects are akin to 'The Emperor', however as
time has progressed many depictions have focused on the symbolism of 'The
Empress' far more, drawing on her connections with nature and fertility,
sometimes portraying her as with child, or as in Rider Waite a goddess like figure of nature, covered in and surrounded by imagery relating to harvest, fertility and abundance.
designing my Empress quite quickly I had a clear idea about her concept
and how I wanted to portray her. I really wanted to emphasise the
connection between the Empress and nature, that they are totally at one
and reinforce her 'Mother Nature' persona. The most logical and
interesting way to do this (to my mind) was to directly connect the
figure of the Empress to the earth. The landscape flows into her, and
she into the landscape. They are seamlessly connected signifying their
bond, unity and that her fertility is tied to the land. With this in
mind I started to sketch my Empress, hair and dress flowing into the
landscape, with no beginning or end. She is a goddess of nature and this
is the powerful, bountiful, glorious image I wanted to portray. I also
decided to place the empresses hands over her womb to signify
fruitfulness and fertility. She is bare chested to express her bountiful
body and nature. This also reinforces her strength of character and the
natural form of her own body. Her dress/the fields, are blooming with
flowers, again to reinforce her abundance and fruitfulness. The simple
design of the flowers was inspired by the Simbelmynë from Tolkien's
Middle Earth, which grew on the tombs of ancient ancestors in Rohan.
versions of The Empress feature a crown as a main element of the
Empress, suggesting her status and importance. But I wanted my imagery
to tie more with nature and its power than material wealth, so I chose
to crown my Empress with Simbelmynë flowers and a wreath of leaves, reaffirming her status as the empress of the earth.
Her throne is of
simple design and natural materials. The wood is solid and represents
natures support, and the gold represents the sun and it's fertility, as
well as a halo to elevate the spiritual status of the Empress.
distant mountains, which are not connected to the Empress directly, but
are part of her world and the landscape of her life are related to the
Emperor card, which is connected closely and follows the same theme of
emanating from the earth, as the Emperor erupts from the distant
mountains, strong and hard.
I enjoyed developing 'The Empress' and
portraying a very different image of women to 'The High Priestess',
though I know which category I fall into!