Traditionally entitled "Empress," this major arcana or "trump" card portrays the energy of the Great Mother. She is Nature, around us but also within us, the ever-unfolding Source of life-giving power. She is often pictured as a pre-Christian Goddess, as the one whom the High Priestess is channeling down to earth for the rest of us.
In medieval Europe, the Empress card was painted to represent whatever Queen currently ruled the land, probably to satisfy the Inquisitors. But the scholars of the Renaissance and beyond had no doubt of her true identity, although she could not be fully revealed on Tarot cards as the "woman clothed with the sun" until after the French Revolution.
This supreme archetype of femininity also symbolizes fertility. It is She who provides us nourishment and security. She is also sometimes seen as delighting us with flowers and fruit. A potentially terrifying aspect of this archetype manifests itself whenever karmic mood swings wipe out our plans, like a storm that has come upon us. Whatever happens, the Empress is the Source of our Embodiment and of Natural Law. She might even be called "the Great Recycler."
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