Fifth Day of Epiphany: The Emperor Takes Control

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The Emperor, from the Darkana Tarot.

It’s hard for me not to interpret my card for the fifth day of Epiphany–a time which is said to bring us signs that relate to what is coming in the new year–in light of the upcoming Presidential election. In certain settings, this card practically reeks of politics–oops, I’m sorry, “leadership.”

The Emperor does not relate only to leadership and control, though, but also to power, and to containers for that power. Because the irony of the Emperor’s role is that the Emperor is ruled over as much as anyone else. His power is contained, focused, and channeled within particular boundaries. He does not have the freedom of the Fool.

I’m no fan of the Emperor, even though–ahem–it IS my birth card. (Yes, maybe I have my own control issues.) I really prefer the freedom of the Fool–I’m one to walk alongside, not one to boss others around. BUT I am learning to appreciate the value of containers, which is that they gather a concentration of power in one place so that we can use it to accomplish practical things. Or, and that’s the worrisome thing about this, we can abuse that power.

The Emperor needs ethics to temper his power. Maybe tomorrow’s Epiphany card will bring us Temperance. Even with Temperance and ethics, it’s not easy to use power wisely. The card in my photo, from the Darkana tarot, shows a Plains Indian chief. During the 1800s, the era of “manifest destiny,” Native American nations faced the question of how best to use their power. Some fought, some formed alliances in order to increase their collective power, some negotiated peace treaties, some played politics by working the angles and deploying one side against another. Which was the best or wisest choice? It’s always hard for a leader or group of leaders to know what option is the best, most ethical, or most effective, when one’s nation is facing an external threat. The next President of the United States would do well to look back at history and consider how different decisions made by different nations affected their outcomes. I’d like to think that presidential power would be contained and focused in ways that support democracy and freedom, rather than disabling them. But time will tell.

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