3. The Empress

Grounded in self-care

As an archetype, the Empress is one that will be familiar to most of us. A life-giver, a creator, a source from which all life has sprung. The Empress represents the desire within every living thing to grow and flourish. It represents the world bringing you forth, asking you to simply be.

This Empress personifies the impulse to nurture and nourish. This is fertility and growth. This is the ability to plant a seed and give it all that it needs until it becomes a plant or a tree, producing seeds of its own. It is nature, feeding us. It is us, feeding nature. It is cycles of life and death and rebirth. It is a celebration of all that surrounds us, rolling in fields of golden barley, soaking up the abundance of it all. This is unstoppable, flowing life-force.

This card is all about care. Self-care, and care for others. Compassion. Kindness. It is making sure your own needs are met, and meeting the needs of others. It is a dear friend showing you support. It is the careful creation of safe spaces. Creating nourishing space. Bringing people together and encouraging them to grow together.

There is radical self-acceptance here, the willingness to be in your own skin and allow others the same freedom. Empress says: “I am here and I love myself. I belong here. There is space for me here. There is space for you, too.”

This is also sensuality, sexuality, body-love, body freedom. Skinny dipping. Strutting your stuff. Wearing what you want. Tenderly enjoying the body that you have, its unique beauties, its strengths, its limits. Working towards a healthy relationship with your physicality, playing with it, trying new things.

It is a physical engagement with the world that is anything but mundane. It is finding the magic that exists all around us, it is the pleasure of touch, taste, smell, sound, and sight. It is a rose garden and a deep, hot bath. It is cake, or leather, or whatever turns you on. The Empress is luxury.

When you hold space for a friend, cook nourishing food, or run a hot bath for a tired lover, you express the energy of the Empress. When you prioritise self-care and look after your material needs, you express the Empress. When you tend a garden or put on your fanciest/sexiest /most comfortable outfit, expressing what is within you through your clothing or makeup, you are channelling Empress energy. When you feel the restorative power of nature, practice herbalism, talk to trees, camp out, gather flowers for your table, watch a sunset, or sit in the park, you’re experiencing Empress energy.

Advice from the Empress

As you’ve probably picked up, the Empress wants you to love and care for yourself – unconditionally. As Empress energy is earthy, grounded stuff, we’re talking about making sure your physical needs are met. Focus on your environment, your home, your workspace – are these comfortable and pleasant places to be? Nourishing food, clean bedsheets, access to green space – these are mundane aspects of our lives, but the Empress will tell you, they are foundational to happiness. It’s easy to get distracted by ‘higher’ pursuits – spirituality, intellectualism – but your physical world matters too. The Empress celebrates the magic in these foundations.

We all deserve to feel loved and cared for, it’s not something we have to ‘earn’. The Empress can represent you meeting your own needs, and it can represent giving or receiving care from others. Playing a nurturing role, caretaking, parenting, showing up for friends or strangers. The Empress represents these kinds of roles, and asks you to focus on your relationship to them.

It’s important to remember that the Empress has this in balance. This is not a person who only cares for others and neglects their own self. Neither is this a person who is focused only on their own needs. There is a lot of generosity, a lot of give and take here in this card, so when you see the Empress in your readings, you might want to check you’re on a two-way street when it comes to giving and receiving care and support.

The Empress represents seeing things through. When a seed is sown, the harvest does not arrive the very next day – a lot of love and care go into bringing each plant to fruition. So the Empress is about taking that time and making a commitment to supporting processes that are slow and organic. Whether that’s work stuff, a relationship, a transition, a journey, the message is the same. Treat it with love and tenderness. Give it what it needs.

This is also a card of abundance. It can show up to remind you how much beauty there is in your life, or to encourage you to get out and breathe fresh air. It’s a card that celebrates the simple things – but it’s also one for luxury. Allow yourself a treat (or a full-blown shopping spree), pamper yourself, let yourself feel good.

Lastly, and perhaps most obviously, the Empress is about nature. Being in touch with the world around you. Getting out of that cubicle and seeing the sky. We all know that time in nature is restorative, physically, emotionally and mentally. Remind yourself that you were born from this earth and will return to it, that this is where you belong. Remember that nature loves you, and you have nothing to prove.

Key words and concepts

  • Self-love and love for/from others
  • Creativity and self-expression in all forms
  • Abundance, richness
  • Nature, cycles, feeling in tune with the seasons and the natural world
  • Being in the flow
  • Sexuality, sensuality, enjoying your physicality
  • Fertility
  • Life force
  • A maternal figure in your life

Some common symbols

  • Plants growing (fecundity, growth)
  • Crops (abundance, richness)
  • Venus symbols (love, sexuality, pleasure)
  • A crown (power, being in charge)
  • Pregnancy (fertlity and birth)
  • A river (feelings in motion, flow)