Birds flitting with twigs in their beaks, orange flowers dotting the fields, creeks running with fresh snowmelt: the month of March is rich with new energy and the surge of life. In spring, the ego is given the opportunity to relax and enjoy the renaissance of nature. As the ego awakens, our natural enthusiasm for life flares up anew, and we begin a unique journey at the Vernal Equinox in the time of Aries, which is symbolized in tarot by the Emperor and its energies.
The Ram ascends the jagged rocks,
sprouts shoot up from the ground;
the pigeon coos for his wayward mate
and God breathes in every sound.
The Vernal Equinox is a time to examine what we want to accomplish and to ask ourselves about the true thoughts behind our actions. When beginning the journey, it is important to form a strong intention to see the journey through to completion. From today onward, we must choose to see ourselves moving dynamically in the direction of the Emperor. However, the journey toward soul awareness is not an easy one, and various obstacles await the pilgrim. Often our thoughts race forward, resolutions made at the beginning of the year are abandoned, and we allow ourselves to obsess over acquiring material things. Finishing the journey is no simple task.
The Symbolism of the Emperor
From an interior perspective, the Emperor symbolizes an idealized picture of the power of reason over chaos. That is, the Emperor revels in thought and experience, and knows that thought is a pivotal activity of the soul. At the Vernal Equinox, the Emperor urges us to learn and expand, and not necessarily in an academic way. Rather, the Emperor encourages the soul to use the intellect as an instrument in the pursuit of truth. He reminds us of the benefits of planning so that we start our yearly adventure with a sound road map.
While the Emperor aspect of our minds fires up our individuality and self-assertiveness, we can travel the path with confidence and optimism. But we must realize that the Emperor in a reversed sense reveals an impatient and demanding ego. We must always keep in mind that though we have our failings, negative feelings only drain energy. It is crucially important that we show patience toward our various weaknesses. This is a sensitive moment. If discouragement sets in at the beginning of the journey, thoughts may twist into negativity and self-defeat. It is therefore important to allow the self to seek tranquility and gather strength in the face of daunting goals and responsibilities. In the time of Aries, the Ram climbs the rocks one step at a time as he strives to reach the pinnacle of the mountain; we can do no less.
In the beginning of this season we are offered the opportunity to use the distinctive flow of energies at the Vernal Equinox to connect with the solar force as it nurtures the Earth. In quiet meditation, we too can feel the energy of spring's soothing, yet stimulating effect. Our inner atmosphere opens to become one with the Holy Presence and all Its creation.
This sense of oneness is a powerful first step and needs to be repeated in order to sustain the outpouring of grace the pilgrim receives while traveling the path. Then from the sensitivity gained in the meditative process the consciousness becomes ready to accept the great gift that the Emperor state of mind bestows: wisdom.
Confusion and Clarity
The energies of the Emperor help us to discern reality from illusion, focusing on concrete thought and experience to lead us away from confusion. This tarot spread reflects that role by more clearly defining different facets of a situation.
First, choose a focus card that represents the issue for which you seek an explanation. Then lay down three cards above it. The first card suggests the illusion that you perceive in the issue. The second shows the true reality. The third card stands for forces at work in the situation, which will either help or hinder you.
The single row of three cards can also be expanded into three rows of three cards—past, present, and future. The versatility of this spread lends it to a great many topics, including romance, business, and spiritual issues.
From Llewellyn's 2001 Tarot Calendar. For more Llewellyn tarot decks and kits, click here.