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III Empress | Weekly Tarot Card Pt 3: Element and Number

This is the third installment of the Weekly Tarot Card. You can read the first two installments in the following links:

Yesterday’s mediation took us into the heart of what it means to nurture. The meditation is to help us look inward to see where we need to nurture ourselves to make way for growth. As adults, we are no longer guided by our parents (in most cases), and thus we must embody the richness of masculine and feminine aspects of parenting and guide ourselves. Our parents, or those who shared their love in looking after us during childhood, are there to nurture us and teach us how to look after ourselves. This is more than just remembering to eat and sleep and function in society, but also how to nurture our mental, physical, and spiritual health.

Now that we have spent time developing our own experiences with the Empress, we can start to break down the card and look at the symbolism in it. The first place to start is by considering the number correspondences and the element of the card. In the case of the Empress, the element is Earth and the number is 3.

Empress Element and Number: Earth

In a very broad perspective, the element of Earth has to do with the material world, and corresponds with the Pentacles. However, if you look at nature and the world around you—everything you physically see is a part of the Earth, and thus, Earth is everything.

The Earth nourishes us. From it our food is grown, and the food of animals, which also nourish us (if we’re meat-eaters). Everything we, as humans, have developed comes from the earth—the metals we mine to build, the medicines we discover, the fuel we use, the wood that gives us housing and paper, and so on. There is a reason why we say Mother Earth, or Mother Nature.

Many spiritualists look at the material world as something we needn’t concern ourselves with. It is easy to think of it as money, material possessions, and thus, consumerism. But the material world, like I said, is so much more than that. It is everything we can physically touch, and everything that meets our physical needs. It is shelter, food, the ways in which we obtain these things, touch, clothing that keeps us warm, and physical healing.

In order to reach enlightenment or any form of spiritual attainment, at least the very basics of our physical needs must be met. There are of course exceptions to the rule, such as monks who put themselves in meditative states to go on hunger strikes. However, to reach that level, shelter, food, and general health is still essential.

Empress Element and Number: 3

The Empress Number is 3, which corresponds to creation, creativity, and expansion. While each of the suits corresponds to one of these three, the Empress is the path through all of them. Creativity leads to creation, and with creation is expansion.

Another way to look at this in terms of numbers is 1 is the creativity, for it is the idea that is a single point. 1 is the starting point. As it brings its idea into the world, there is creation, which is the 2. The 2 is a second point, and with this second point a line can be drawn. There is something in the physical world to be shown. Then, the third point, the 3 brings about more lines, which create a shape. Not only has the 1 created from its own creativity, but it’s expanded in a new way.

Likewise, when we consider Mothers, she holds the 1 within her, the egg. This is her creativity. Her baby is the creation, and the creation’s method of carrying on genes are the expansion.

How do you combine the element of Earth and the number 3? What do these two things mean t you? Try and challenge yourself to come up with three or four different ways to combine these two aspects, and see how they connect, how they’re similar, and how they differ. Do any of these resonate with your depiction of the Empress in your deck, or any of the images you’ve seen? Tomorrow we’ll look at the symbolism commonly found in the Empress.

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Decks Used

The Aquarian Tarot in a Tin by Italian-born, American-raised David Palladini, was published originally in 1970 by U.S. Games Systems Inc, and then republished again in 2016 in a smaller size. Named after the Age of Aquarius, the Aquarian Tarot is a midieval depiction of the Rider-Waite Tarot system. The images are closer, and thus might give the impression of being more character-based rather than relying on symbolism. This intimate deck provides a stark reflection of the human condition in it’s journey through the tarot.

Faerie Tarot by Nathalie Hertz, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc, 2008. Hertz is a French artist, and the creator of several other beautiful tarot decks. The Faerie Tarot was ‘inspired by the flora and fauna of the French countryside,’ and ‘invites you to see the world in a delightful new way…blending fantasy, whimsy, and nature.’

Impressionist Tarot by Arturo Picca (artist) and Corrine Kenner (author), published by Lo Scarabeo in 2015. This deck takes works of classic impressionist paintings and recreates them to fit the meanings of the tarot. It pulls from works of Edonard Manet, Claude Monet, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, Vincent van Gough, and Paul Gauguin. A truly beautiful deck, especially for those who have interest in the art world.

Prisma Visions Tarot by James R. Eads, 3rd ed., published in 2016. The deck itself is beautiful, though perhaps not for the beginning tarot reader. The suits all fit together to create a master picture displaying the energy and progression of the suits. The figures and images flow from one card to the next, showing movement within the stationary cards.

Rider-Waite by A. E. Waite. The deck used in these photos is currently out of print. I won’t say much about this deck, as it is fairly standard and probably one of the most produced decks. It serves as a standard for many tarot readers and artists, depicting classic images relating in part to the original playing cards that tarot developed from.

The Spiral Tarot by Kay Steventon. With turn-of-the-20th-century style art, this deck takes from the classic Rider-Waite deck and brings it up to the late 1800-early 1900’s, a time of industry and contemplation for the western world as it moved forward into a more technological era. I am a little biased toward this deck as it’s been my main deck for 15 years. The cards are thick with additional symbolism that can be tricky to pick out of the traditional Rider-Waite, and adds layers of Greek myth throughout the Major Arcana.

Thoth Tarot by Aleister Crowley (designer and author) and Lady Frieda Harris (artist), published by U. S. Games Systems, Inc., in 1978. This deck takes from most esoteric imagery, and requires the reader of the deck to have deep, initiate knowledge of the symbolism used. There is nothing within the cards that is without meaning. However, on a more surface level, the deck draws from Egyptian symbolism and from the style of the Marseille Tarot (mostly seen within the Minor Arcana). For those looking for deeper understandings of the universe, I recommend this deck. I would caution that this deck is highly advanced, and might be avoided for the budding reader.

Vampire Tarot – by Nathalie Hertz, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc. in 2000. As mentioned above in reference to the Faerie Tarot, Hertze is a French artist who gained her notability through the publication of her tarot decks. The Vampire Tarot was a bestselling deck upon its release, and plays on more gothic symbolism, providing more jarring interpretations to allow for the accepting of negative forces within the world to compliment the positive forces. The deck brings together myths and legends in the form of vampires, which ‘gives tarot readers a macabre passport’ into the world of divination.

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