Our story continues with the introduction of the Emperor, Key 4. He is the consort of the Empress. After the Magician’s union with the High Priestess, transforming her into the Empress, the Magician is transformed into the Emperor. He is the father of her children. As the Magician he was only potentially a father, just as the High Priestess was only potentially a mother.
The title Emperor means “he who sets in order.” This Key symbolizes order, establishment, reason and manifestation. It implies both authority and paternity. He represents the head of government, the source of war and war-making power. These ideas are related to the sign Aries, and to Mars and the Sun. Let’s explore this Key further.
The Hebrew letter assigned to this Key is E, or silent H, Heh. The letter’s value is five. It’s pronounced “hay”. Heh means window, literally wind-door. The sense function of this Key is sight. A window admits light (knowledge) and air (Life breath, spirit) into the house (Beth) of personality. As an extension of this, a window is a vantage point for surveying all of our surroundings and to oversee all that goes on about us. As a result of this supervision we are able to order and control our personal universe. We gain both vision and supervision. After examining all that surrounds us we refine our vision to achieve insight into the realities of creation. We penetrate creation’s inmost nature by “seeing through” that which is outwardly visible.
Rather than merely looking at things around you, develop true vision by looking into them. See things as they are – not as they appear. Rudolf Steiner delves into this in a very practical way in his book, “The Way of Initiation.” He discusses the need to develop feelings that will awaken our five inner senses of sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell. According to the quality of our vision do we make the definition of ourselves and our environment. As we see, we also make patterns which the formative power tends to bring forward into manifestation. Remember that his consort is the Empress! If our perception of our surroundings is based upon their appearance, then our response and how we live our lives will be short-sighted or dull, as in not clear as glass. The monarch ruling the kingdom represents your own true Self, who must take steps to establish dominion over its universe.
Astrologically the Emperor represents Aries, first sign of the zodiac which begins the fourth month of the year. Symbols of Aries are evident throughout the Key. The ram is a symbol of Aries, acting as leader of the flock. On top of the Emperor’s helmet is a solar disk. Aries is a fiery, cardinal sign and governs the head and face. The head exercises control over the whole body through the brain. The Sun is exalted in Aries as shown by the gold trim of the helmet and globe, the metal of the Sun, and by the orange color of the sky, one of the colors assigned to the Sun. The Sun has to do with health and vitality. It is the indicator of high office, and of positions of rank and title, so that it represents rulership and authority. It also stands for the Ego, or individuality, in one’s natal horoscope.
Aries is ruled by warlike Mars. The Emperor is wearing armor, for Mars rules iron, steel, surgery, chemistry and military affairs. Behind the Emperor are cliffs of barren red rock. They represent the sterility of mere supervision and regulation. The color corresponding to Aries is red, which is lowest in the spectrum, or nearest to physical density. Red is used to express fiery activity and creative energy. Behind him flows the stream of subconscious mind from the High Priestess, which waters his judgements with mercy, and from which he draws remembrance. This “water” gradually breaks down the red rock through erosion and combines with it to form fertile soil, which can be planted for the Empress’ garden.
In his right hand is the Egyptian Ankh, a symbol of Venus and the Empress. He rules with love. Her color, the green of nature, forms the footing on which his throne is established. The 10 small circles on his helmet refer to the 10 Sephiroth on the Tree of Life. The violet of his garb (clothing symbolizes an element of protection) is symbolic of royalty, and hints at the idea of Truth as his defense, for violet is the color associated with Aquarius and Truth.
The emblem in his left hand is a symbol of dominion over the terrestrial forces of earth’s globe. It’s red and on it is an inverted, gold T-square. The T-square is a symbol of the use of mathematics, geometry and planning. The letter T, Hebrew Tav, is the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet, to which the planet Saturn is assigned. Saturn’s influence is limitation. The inverted “T” is the reversal of Saturn’s power of limitation. The cross on top indicates the material, or four elements – Fire, Air, Earth and Water.
The white shield refers to purity of spirit, with its five sides reminding us of the 5-pointed star representing uplifted mankind. The double-headed eagle on the shield suggests initiative, swift creative energy, and regeneration. The two heads indicate equilibrium or the balance of opposite forces.
His legs are posed in the form of the number 4, or a cross, but the posture of his whole body resembles the symbol for alchemical sulphur, a triangle above a cross. That is, the triangle of the Law is standing above and triumphing over the cross of the material realm. Sulphur suggests those passionate fires which both tempt man to turn aside from the spiritual path and to burn the dross from his being.
Order is achieved with the help of reason – the two principle functions of this Key. Use this Key to strengthen the pattern of order and control in your own life. Whenever a new condition of any kind enters your life, take immediate steps to put it in its rightful place in the scheme of things. And remember, any attempt to put order in your life must begin by establishing order in your thinking. Whether you are male or female, you have within yourself the power to envision. This creative faculty is derived from the Ancient of Days, of which the Emperor is a representation. The Tarot and the Cabala teach that God is both male and female at once. This is also a Hindu idea. In the Cabalistic tradition , the masculine and feminine elements are in a state of perfect balance. Together they make a totality greater than its parts.
The Emperor sits, or rests, on a stone cube, as does the High Priestess and the Empress. The word stone in Hebrew is ehben, meaning father-son; thus they are one. The cube refers to The Book of Formation or Sepher Yetzirah, in which the esoteric teaching is that the manifested universe is represented as a cube, with its western and southern faces visible to the observer. The six faces of this cube and its interior center are assigned to the 7 double letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The three interior coordinates correspond to the 3 mother letters. The twelve boundary lines represent the 12 simple letters. We will be exploring the Cube of Space and its fascinating symbology at the end of our review of the 22 Keys.
The Emperor is a benevolent figure. He embodies the Logos, the Divine reason that guides the Universe. Wisdom is his eye. This single eye is a special feature of the symbolism of Key 4. It’s the same as the all-seeing eye that’s on the dollar bill and found in several cathedrals in Rome. This is the power to look at ourselves, the power of the Self to reflect upon all of itself. This is the greatest tool for spiritual advancement that we have.
Keep an eye on things all the time; stay awake! Your life is eternally being invaded by things that don’t belong there at all! The first thing that you want to do is shut the door. You can look out the window, but you don’t necessarily buy all that you see. The law of life is rule or be ruled. I don’t recommend letting someone else rule your life, but that’s your privilege to allow it. Setting your house (Beth) of personality in order is an essential aspect of liberation. In practical terms this means the elimination of things you don’t want in your house! By this we accept spiritual responsibility for ourselves.
The Emerald Tablet: “and thereby all obscurity shall fly from you”