Greetings all! Today we have another powerfully masculine card, the Emperor.
The Emperor is the father figure of the deck. He represents all that is establishment, order structure and authority. As the positive side of the Father Figure, he represents the archetypal father as protector, guide and provider. In situations that are already over controlled however, he can represent stifling rigidity.
When the Emperor shows up in a reading he may indicate a run in with authority. The story of Bran, who represents the Emperor in the Llewellyn Tarot may indicate this as well. The story goes, that Bran the Blessed, king of Britain, wanted to make an alliance with the Irish so he married his sister Branwen to the Irish King Mathylwych. Things were going well at the wedding celebration until Bran’s brother Efnysien, who is against peace with the Irish, rebels by killing the Irish guests horses. To make up for the extreme dishonor, Bran gives Mathylwych his most prize possession, his Cauldron of rebirth. After getting back to Ireland, Mathylwych and his people treat Branwen very badly. Heartbroken, Branwen sends a message to her big brother through sending a starling with a message. Bran receives her message and in a rage, Bran gathers his army and makes for Ireland.
The Irish, being terrified of Bran because he is a giant, do their best to patch things up and build Bran a great hall that he can actually fit into. Long story short Bran is double crossed, his cauldron is used against him when the Irish use it to bring back their dead soldiers and nearly everyone dies in battle, including Bran, who loses his head. Branwen’s son is tossed into the fire, and being one of the few survivors of the terrible war, she later dies of a broken heart.
Being magical, Bran’s head talks to his soldiers and tells them to bury his head at the White Hill and face it towards France in order to ward off invasion. The White Hill is thought to have been where the Tower of London stands now. Bran whose name means raven, told his people as long as his head remained there, Britain would be safe from invasion. This is why there are Ravens at the Tower of London to this day. It is said that if the Ravens leave the Tower of London that Britain will fall.
Combining this myth with the traditional meaning of the Emperor we have a ruler who on one hand is the Father Protector of the land (represented also by his sister Branwen… the Goddess IS the land…) but he fails in his overconfidence.
The Emperor symbolizes the establishment, whether that take the form of parents, teachers, police officers, churches , or governments. These are the institutions / people in which we place our trust but sometimes they fail us. When that happens, we need to choose empowerment over victim-hood. We do this by asking “What do I do next? “ then taking action.