The Emperor is a card about control, about authority, command, organization and foundations. He follows all those other cards where the querent decides what he wants, and nurtures it into fruition--now what the querent has must be managed, guided. Hence, the Emperor. But what about the Emperor reversed?
1) Opposite: If the Emperor is the father, the adult parent, then the opposite is the baby. The negatives or opposites of the Emperor card is that of childishness: the leader is tyrannical, the worst sort of Nero-like dictator; he uses his aggression, temper and his charm for his own selfish wants rather than to help his kingdom.
In the opposite camp, this is a card about inconsistency and unpredictability. There is no control, only impulsive demands.
2) Blocked: In this case, something is stopping the energy that gives a person authority, or the energy that brings things under control. As the Emperor is a man of aggression, charisma and energy, a reversed card could indicate that these elements are being cut off. The person in authority finds themselves unable to motivate or control others - rather like a mother who finds she cannot control her children; they ignore and disrespect her rather than obeying her. As a consequence, the entire house (kingdom) is a mess.
3) Upside-down: The essence of the Emperor is his throne. He is solidly seated on that chair, in command. Turn him upside-down and several things happen. First, the crown falls off his head, the scepter and sphere from his hands. He himself falls out of the chair, and the chair also falls. This is a trio of damages. The ruler loses all emblems of command, and the kingdom loses not only the commander but the seat of power. All that is left are the bare rocks.
Once again, the upside-down interpretation goes one step further. It predicts not merely a loss of authority and control on the part of the Emperor, but a loss of both ruler and foundation for the kingdom. In this instance, the manager running a certain branch of a company is let go or leaves, and his job vanishes with him. No one takes his place, his employees are left at loose ends, and the whole branch collapses. There is no chance for organization, no chance for further growth or development. No one is in charge and no one can be in charge. The throne and all trappings of rulership (crown, scepter, etc.) are gone.
Curious about this card when upright? Go to our Tarot Card Meanings.