The Empress Within
The Empress lives within each of us. Though several Tarot decks depicts the Empress as a pregnant woman, the pregnancy itself can be seen as a metaphor of being pregnant with ideas. She is about creation, mother earth, growth cycles connecting with the life force within us, and beyond.
In the Universal Waite Deck, the pregnant Empress is sitting comfortably on her red throne, which illustrates passion, in a setting of wheat fields, trees and a waterfall, all symbolizing fertility and nourishment. She is uses her natural instincts to gain an understanding of the needs of others The Empress is a nurturing soul but when her card is reversed in a reading, she can also be a domineering smothering mother.
The Mythic Tarot portrays the pregnant Empress as Demeter, Earth Mother and mother of Persephone who married Hades and lived in the Underworld. Demeter was outraged that Hades took her daughter away: she couldn’t adjust to this change and as a result she forced earth to darken until Hermes helped her make a deal with Hades. Persephone would then live with her mother for 9 months and then in the Underworld for 3 months. During those 3 months Demeter was in mourning, resulting in darkness, leaving the trees to lose their leaves and flowers withered — our winter months, until Persephone came back, which became Springtime. In this deck, the Empress is a nurturing woman who promotes growth in the world but also someone you wouldn’t want to cross paths with.
What I resonate with in these interpretations is the connection with nature, different seasons bringing changes around us, as well as within. I once had a T shirt with a native American Indian saying, “Earth does not belong to us. We belong to Earth.” What I learned from this quote is that my (our) process of growth and inner peace are similar to the changes of seasons — the darkness of winter, the newness of spring, the bright warmth of summer, autumn leaves falling and getting ready for winter again. The cycles of seasons are similar to the process of giving birth to new ideas and new belief systems. When life presents difficulties as it is currently doing for me now, it does seem like the darkness of winter exists within me, but slowly different realizations and different ways to express my grief evolve, similar to what happens after winter solstice. A new way of looking at the heartbreaking news that I won’t be getting rid of lymphoma but instead finding medications that will manage it, and that will offer hope and a new season. I write, meditate, sew and walk along the salt marsh walking path, all of which slowly helps me give birth to hope. Hope inspires new ways of looking at life, similar to the eagerness I feel as the days slowly get longer, when little bright green buds start appearing on trees. This is the creative process of life that lives within each of us.
No one likes being depressed, and when it erupts, it feels like it’s going to last forever, but when we can allow the process of darkness leading to light to evolve, it’s a new day, with new opportunities. This is a creative process that is described in the Osho Zen Tarot and their interpretation of the Empress which is named Creativity.” True creativity arises from a union with the divine, with the mystical and the unknowable”. When we abandon ourselves into the energy of creativity, it “fuels the birth of all things.” “The end product of our creative energy is a spiritual experience” and connecting with this energy is connecting with God. The card tells us to love what we do, “The more creative you become, the more godly you become…when your life becomes creative, you live in God.”
To me, living creatively is living with awareness, finding joy in a new recipe and the delicious scent it creates that fills the kitchen, or hearing birds squawk and imagining that they are talking to each other telling them about their day. It’s being attentive to our feelings, impulses and desires, and finding comfort along the nature trail. We don’t need a creative outlet like writing or painting to be creative, it is the awareness of life’s energy force that exists within us and around us.
This is our inner Empress.