III – Dalet – Venus – Door
Nurture, Sensuality, Charm, and Humility
The Empress, fourth of the Major Arcana, corresponds to the Hebrew letter Dalet. The letter Dalet represents the poor man that the rich man from the letter Gimel comes to give charity to. The letter Dalet represents humility and the acceptance of one’s own “lowliness” and lack of divinity; the keys to pass through the door to heaven. Realizing the relative unimportance of oneself is key to this humility, and along with this realization comes the ability to sacrifice oneself for others, like a mother sacrificing herself for her children – and this idea of motherhood is central to the Empress. She represents the second phase of the moon (that the Priestess is the first of). She is the nurturing and caring aspect of the feminine; the mother. She is selfless and lives to help others, nurturing them so that they grow. She is the door (as represented in the pictographic predecessor of the letter Dalet) to her own salvation and that of others.
Venus is the Empress’ astrological equivalent; beauty, love, sex, intimacy, personal magnetism, harmony, elegance, refinement, grace, allure, and ability to interact on a deeper level with others, even if only for a short period of time. While her Hebrew equivalent is humble, her astrological equivalent is quite astonishing and amazing; it is therefore quite a feat that one so dazzling can still be so humble. The Empress knows exactly how attractive and sensual she can be, and what effects her charms have over others, but she does not abuse it, nor is she proud of it; she is thankful to God for the gifts he has given her, for she knows that without him she would be nothing.
The Empress also stands as the link between Chokmah (First Manifestation) and Binah (Potential and Understanding) in the Tree of Life; the first of the Major Arcana to not emanate from Kether. The Empress represents the active nurturing aspect that leads to one’s potential being realized; she is the original harmony using its nature to help others grow into all that they possible can be. The Empress is the sensual mother, deeply connected to the Earth and the material; by realizing her own lack of divinity she is very, very earthy. She is attractive, alluring, fertile, sexual and sensual, and kind and nurturing. She represents growth – as is evident by looking at the green growth surrounding the Empress in the Rider-Waite image – and a connection to nature. She is beautiful and charming, and is the ultimate mother. She is passionate and loves life, and so helps to bring it into the world, representing the beginning of new life as well, as given to her through the Emperor’s – her consort’s – seed. She is the female counterpart of the Emperor.
The Thoth illustration emphasizes her nurturing and beautiful nature; her arms are held as if holding something precious, and a beautiful swan and other birds lie scattered about her. She holds a flower in her hand, and looks away coyly. Moons are visible around her, emphasizing her feminine nature, and she has two embracing swans on a shield at her feet, emphasizing her association with sensuality.
In a reading, the Empress asks you to examine the role of caretakers in your life, as well as sensuality, physical sensations, and attractiveness. It asks you to re-evaluate your connection with nature, and advise you perhaps to start caring more for others – or allowing others to care for you. Reversed, this card’s energies are twisted, blocked, or distorted somehow; perhaps you are receiving care that is not the best for you, or someone is using their attractiveness in a very not-humble way.