I get to share the credit for this spread with my wonderful RoseRed. Seeing how this is an Emperor year AND the fourth month of the year, she was looking for a spread related to the Emperor card to share at her next Tarot Cafe get together. After having just recently attended Anastasia’s monthly Tarot class on the Emperor and Death cards, the symbolism of the Emperor with his scepter and orb in his hands was fresh in my mind. Together we hashed out the following: the three-card Emperor spread.
In the RWS Tarot the Emperor is depicted holding symbols of his power and authority: an orb and a scepter, and sitting on his throne. In the context of power and authority, one also hears about those who act as “the hands of the Emperor.” The Left hand of the Emperor, the right hand (and an underhand? A backhand?). Finally the Emperor has his throne; his seat of power.
The scepter, rod and staff have been symbols of authority and power since time unrecorded. Nearly every depiction of ancient leaders they have some symbols of power in their hands. (Perhaps it’s because they didn’t want to fidgit… ) It could be as simple as: “I have the biggest stick, so listen to what I have to say.” From there I imagine it evolved into a cultural habit: “He who holds the staff may speak,” and finally to: “He who holds the scepter has the authority.” The similarities between scepter and wand cannot be overlooked, nor can the association with swords – another symbol of kings and nobility. So really, the scepter represent’s the Emperor’s Will and Way; his connection to the suites of wands and swords.
The Orb represents secular vision and power; the Emperor’s connection to the world. Often literally interpreted as “I hold the world in my hand.” It’s opulence and quality of craftsmanship speaks to the financial power of the Emperor; his connection to the suite of Coins or earth. It’s perfection of form represents the clarity of his vision; thus his connection to the suite of Cups and water.
The Emperor’s throne is his center, his highpoint. He can always be found there. It both makes him more visible and grants him a higher perspective over all his domain. If “all roads lead to Rome” then they must also pass by the throne of the Emperor.
So imagine you’re the emperor, what does the orb in your left hand represent? What does your scepter in your right hand represent? What is your center of power, your ‘throne’?
The Three card Emperor Spread
Okay, this is actually a four card spread, but the Emperor plays Significant, so you’re only drawing three additional cards at the core of this reading.
Separate the Majors from the Minors. Separate the Emperor from the Majors and place on the table, then shuffle the Majors and Minors separately. Draw a Major and place it below the Emperor card; this is the Throne card. Draw two Minors and place them above the Emperor card as depicted:
(Yes, I know it looks backwards at first. If it helps, invert the Emperor card so his feet are facing the minor cards, and his head is towards the Throne card)
The Left hand represents what your connection to the world, your material influence and clarity of vision. Obviously cups are coin cards are ideal here, but swords and wands are also appropriate since they can represent ideals and passions that may be blocking or influencing this location.
The Right hand card represents your authority and power and clearly wands and swords are appropriate here, however coins and cups can represent material and emotional blockages to this location.
The Throne card represents the seat of your power; your position, role and starting point. As a Major card, this is a big deal and should be considered carefully. The Star would mean being a symbol of hope; Death means taking charge of a change in the natural order, and so on.