The Artist's Concept
For me, the Empress card is the epitome of creativity, and the card which all writers, artists, musicians, and mothers alike aspire to. In most decks, I have found the Empress to be one of the most beautiful cards, but I have also been aware of the things I would change on each Empress card that I have seen. This is my chance. The deck I use the most is the Robin Wood Tarot. Robin Wood's Empress card always strikes me as colourful and welcoming, bringing to mind my own Mother. This version of the card also reminds me of the Mother-Lover aspect within the Goddess and within every woman.
In my card you see a redheaded woman wearing a green skirt, clinging to a birch tree. Blood flows from her onto the land, and into the river below, mingling and diluting as it flows with the water. To the right, an oak tree with ivy growing around it stands strong and proud. A brown mare watches the woman, its nosebag full of oats spilled on the grass in front of it. Behind them is the dawning of a new day: a sunrise, and a tall, somewhat hidden, mountain.
The woman in this scene is about to give birth, and at the moment is in the throes of labour. In the Rider Waite, and other traditional decks, the Empress is passively sitting on a throne, by a river, and although she looks very regal, she does not, to me, represent what this card is all about: Active creation. By drawing the woman actually giving birth, it is clear that she is active, putting in the work, sacrificing something in order to attain her goal. All these things are what is needed to make real an idea or concept.
The birch and oak trees have symbolic meanings too. The birch symbolises birth and new beginnings, whilst the oak tree represents the solid foundation and support needed during a creative venture. The horse is a symbol of feminine power and intuition, as well as movement towards a goal, so is an ideal companion for the Empress.
The fact that the woman's birth-blood is mingling into the river is representative of her feeding life with herself, literally her 'blood, sweat, and tears'. It harkens back to the Cosmic Mother, who births the Universe, and continues to sustain it and support it through Herself. The woman's red hair is symbolic of this Cosmic Mother aspect of the Goddess, and her green skirt is the colour of Nature. The spilled oats in the nosebag is merely my way of drawing the traditional symbol of harvest and growth seen on most traditional Empress cards: the field of corn or wheat.
The sunrise represents the dawn: a new beginning, and a bright prospect for creative ventures. The purple mountain is there to remind us of the upward struggle towards the completion of a goal, and in this case we do not see the peak of the mountain. This is because the Empress card reminds us that, although the goal is what we aim for, sometimes it changes and we never quite get what we planned for at the start. This is nearly always a good thing - it keeps things interesting. Besides, it is the journey that makes the destination worthwhile.
When seeing this card in a reading, it can mean the beginning of a creative venture, or possibly the culmination of months of hard work to bring about the desired result. This card signifies an excellent time to begin things, and also reminds us to listen to our intuition and body clock. As well as this, it could signify the birth of actual children, or a pregnancy, and definitely a fruitful and fortuitous time. It may also remind us to honour our bodies and care for them, no matter what shape, size, or colour. They are beautiful for what they do- they house the soul, they can bring forth new life, paint pictures, save lives, and they cam be shared with others.
Coloured pencils and black BiroŽ pen. Original dimensions: 7.75cm by 12.0cm
Go back to the project index, read the traditional card meaning, or get a free tarot reading with this deck.