Tarot Empresses

In Tarot the archetypal Mother card is the Empress. She is nearly always represented as a heavily pregnant woman reclining in a fertile field. She represents fertility, marriage, motherhood, and creativity. She is the embodiment of what it means to be a mother. Now that I am a mother, I find myself reexamining the meaning of this card in light of my (limited) experience with motherhood.

As any mother will tell you, even a brand new mother like me, being pregnant is the easiest part of motherhood. The job doesn’t really become difficult until the baby is born. Being a mother is much more than proving your fertility by carrying a child in your womb. So why is the Empress the embodiment of motherhood? She is obviously just on the threshold of that great adventure.

Perhaps I am taking her pregnancy and motherhood too literally. It is possible to give birth to something else other then a child. You can give birth to a book, a painting, anything that requires creativity and a fertile imagination. The child in the Empresses womb is that book, or drawing, or idea that you are getting ready to bring into the world. And, because the Empress is a card of the Major Arcana, this “birthing” will lead to significant changes in your life. Hopefully not as sleep-depriving as a new baby, but with any luck just as joyful as holding a new life in your arms.


The Empress cards were taken from the following decks (left to right): Aquatic, Ancient Egyptian, Fenestra, Hello Tarot, Marseilles, Robin Wood.