Comparing Empress (3) and Emperor (4) in the Thoth. Talk about your study in contrasts! Lady Frieda Harris, the painter, decided to go all out. I think I can see her feelings about men here, although Aleister Crowley dictated a lot of what went into the cards.
The Visible Contrasts
In total contrast to the cool greens, blues, and pinky reds of the Empress, the Emperor hangs out in only one area of the color spectrum: red (and more red), orange and yellow. It’s wild! She’s all cool moon stuff, he’s like all the Thoth Wand cards—sun, fire, large and in charge. They both also look to the side, so although the bodies face outward, their faces look in opposite directions. If you put them in numerical order, they gaze at each other. The Empress also has a more open cradling gesture as she holds her flower, whereas the Emperor grasps an orb in his lap and holds his ram-topped scepter across his body. Ready for battle at any moment. They do share the same double phoenix shield (different colors), and fleur de lis symbol. She has two crescent moons floating, he, two suns. He’s also got two rams looking over his shoulders, very testosterone-laced, this picture, while estrogen dominates in the Empress (note the mother swan and her babies/nest). The only soft touch in the Emperor pic is the sacrificial lamb (with flag and halo), lying down at the bottom of the card.
The Feminine/Masculine, Yin/Yang Dichotomy
The feminine/masculine dichotomy is very clear in all the lines, although Lady Harris’s Art Deco/Modern sympathies still put a lot of curvature in both pictures.
The Empress says comfort, birth of creative ideas, babies, nurturing, enjoying the abundance of nature. I see myself sitting in a comfy chair with a journal and pen, looking out on a beautiful garden, munching on the produce thereof. Just merge into it.
The Emperor seems to say, let’s take charge and defend our inner or outer territory. It’s his job to make sure there are walls around his Empress’s garden so she doesn’t have to worry about safety (although she’s not worried anyway).
This card would advise one to appreciate the structures built into life to keep one safe to carry on those creative efforts, but this attitude can also lead to rigidity, just as the Empress’s energies can get too passive. It would depend on surrounding cards as to which way one would read these, of course.
And that’s one of the great things about the Tarot symbolism for me; the relationship between and among the cards. They look at each other and speak symbolically to each other in any reading.