For an overview of and foundation for this series, see HERE

Part 2 is HERE

In this article, we look at the main test or challenge of the first row, which is represented by The Emperor. The flanking cards, The Empress and The Hierophant, show the energies the create or intensify the challenge.

Many people think of the Emperor and the Empress as a pair, representing opposing forces or opposite sides of the same coin, so it is confusing why in this case the Emperor stands alone as the crux of the challenge and the Empress is essentially “paired” with the Hierophant.

The basic issue of the row is how you relate to and experience the world, which is shaped (in childhood) by home and school. The Empress represents home and family influences and resonates with the High Priestess and the inner experience. The Hierophant represents society and school/formal education and relates to the Magician and the external experience.

The main challenge or test is The Emperor, the archetypal father and traditionally the person who, in the child’s view, “lives” in both worlds: home and society. Please remember, these are archetypal/symbol ideas and not actual gender roles. The Emperor or archetypal father moves between both realms with, being a symbol of successful integration, ease and without losing his sense of self.

So the challenge of this row is learning how to balance your inner and outer experiences in a way that works equally well in private/home and in public/society.

In the next article we will look at the experience and results of the first row, represented by the Lovers and the Chariot.

Written by Barbara Moore
The tarot has been a part of Barbara Moore’s personal and professional lives for over a decade. In college, the tarot intrigued her with its marvelous blending of mythology, psychology, art, and history. Later, she served as the tarot specialist for Llewellyn Publications. Over the years, she has ...