This is a portrait of the first and only empress of China, Wu ZeTian who ruled under the Zhou dynasty from 690 to 705. To her right is an acute heptagram surrounded by planet symbols. The heptagram is made up of seven swords. To her left is her name and status in Chinese.
The background colour of this card is yellow symbolising conscious, active thought and pure intellect.
Placed around the acute heptagram in the order of their apparent speed of movement in the heavens, the 'planets' are ordered along the unicursal line in the order of days of the week.
The seven swords are pointing towards their respective planets in the colour of alchemy or the 'seven metals of the ancients': gold, silver, iron, mercury, tin, copper, and lead. These seven metals were named after the seven gods of the planets. For each of the Zodiacal signs there is a corresponding alchemical process.
Empress Wu began her life in the imperial palace as part of Emperor Taizong's harem around 638. There is much dispute regarding her history and eventual rise to power but it is generally known that after the death of Emperor Taizong she became the highest ranking concubine of his son, Emperor Gaozong. She governed China from behind the scenes when Emperor Gaozong suffered a series of strokes. She reigned in his name and then after his death, behind a succession of puppet emperors until she took control under the self named Zhou dynasty.
Empress Wu was the only woman in the 2100 years of imperial China ever to sit upon the dragon throne which utterly shocked the Confusion elites and she was known to be merciless towards any opposition. Her Machiavellian behaviour is infamous, it is said that she had her two rival concubines, Wang and Xiao beaten until their arms and legs were broken and then left in large wine urns to die in agony. It has even been said that she murdered her own daughter to get rid of another rival, the Empress Consort.
How much of her reputation is true and how much is mud flinging by the patriarchal historians remains to be seen. Even Empress Wu herself left the tablet outside her mausoleum blank saying history would decide her legacy.
Like the Sword, the meaning of this card is double edged. It is a card of intellect, strategy and self interest. It is also a card of intrigue, cunning and possible deception.
Photoshop with help from lukedra
caridwen has been reading tarot for over five years and runes for two.
Go back to the project index, read the traditional card meaning, or get a free automated reading with this deck.