and as the king becomes the roof, the queen becomes the walls

holding and nourishing the space in which from their deep love a soul will be born – 

the soul of their relationship

In my article Relationship Dynamics: Knights, Damsels, Kings and Queens, we discussed the purpose of the knight in shining armour and the damsel in distress phase, and the need for maturation and soul development – particularly how a knight becomes a king, otherwise the unhealthy immature relationship patterns would continue. In essence, what we discussed were the rites of initiation from boy to manhood. I’ve also discussed the women’s rites of initiation in great detail in my article Women’s Rites of Passage, so consider reading this too. Today, we will go further into the initiations, and why these are extremely important for our modern day, both on a personal and relationship level.

The male’s initiatory pathway from boy to man is focused on descent, or facing and conquering his fears of death. This allows him to mature into manhood properly, coming into his healthy confidence and self-security, and learning to become a good provider, take care of others, be a protector and nurturer, and have responsibility, honour, courage and self-accountability.

For women, the initiatory pathway from girl to woman was through life – emphasizing the continuity of life and lineage – how to nurture and sustain life into its forward being. This continuation was not only with the intention of preparation for future birth, family and creativity – but it was also relating to the way she’d pass along the wisdoms, healing powers, knowledge, creativity and intuitive abilities of her unique self – and the responsiblity it takes to be mindful of how we imprint on any consciousness we create. Women had descent initiations too, but they were done during the later part of their life, as she had to first have a solid foundation of her intuitive and healing abilities, and these initiations were a little different than the ones for men.

Essentially, both male and female initiatory pathways show the movements and interrelations that life itself is in its union of love, merging the two polarities. In this article, we’ll go through each for both the male and female psyche, and outline how each of them can come into and integrate all four aspects of themselves: mind, heart, body and spirit. In other words – how would a man become the archetype of an emperor embodying the four kings (elements of air, water, earth and fire), and how a woman becomes an empress embodying the four queens.

Let’s begin.

Men’s Initiation: From Boy to Man. 

I often hear that “men are no longer men” nowadays – and one of the many, many reasons why some men are stuck in boy psychology, is that initiation rites are no longer practiced for them in a healthy way, thereby they can’t mature into manhood properly. Rites do not have to be grand ceremonies like in the old days, but it is the essence of them which have been forgotten.

And the essence of the men’s initiatory process is that in order to mature into their manhood, they have to face their fear of death (i.e. his inner fears so that he is more confident and self-secure) – which was traditionally usually done through a hunt, or spending a few nights in darkness, etcetera. By coming out of this – they were said to then step into their full masculinity. For women, their first initiatory pathway, from maiden to womanhood, was led not through “death” but through life – which was done through ceremonies of baking, cooking, feeding the tribes, nurturing, practicing courage and perseverance through running for hours each morning, etcetera. Women had to learn to ride the dragon, i.e. ride the fears – while men had to learn to conquer the dragon.

But what happens nowadays?

Men are not initiated by their fathers into manhood by teaching them how to be confident, trustworthy, responsible, emotionally open and have a sense of values and honour – but instead are socialized by their fathers to perpetuate unhealthy masculine qualities, to devalue women, to hide and suppress their emotions, and to disconnect from the most vulnerable parts of themselves in order to be accepted into the world as a “real man”.

Some men are unfortunately raised by emotionally absent fathers that never learned to embody their own healthy and mature masculinity, so out of the need for their father’s validation and respect, they take on his rigid masculine ideals. Or they are then forced to model qualities of their mother like people pleasing and codependency.

Men learn to use sex and porn as substitutes for emotional support and self-regulation. Physical intimacy from sex becomes the only way to manage the internal conflict between the innate desire for closeness and connection, and the very fear of that closeness and connection.

Men are not taught by their fathers how to be with and how to love a woman from a conscious and connected place, so then they rely on porn, media, cultural norms, and rigid gender expressions as a system of education.

Men need fathers who can model integrity and emotional maturity, that are honest and sincere, that are sensitive and in tune to the needs of others, that know how to love a woman and be intimate on all levels, that know how to connect emotionally and how to embody the qualities of mature masculinity.

When a man has not properly matured and guided into his manhood, he is unable to develop his psyche and build a better, more fulfilled life for himself, nor is he able to build his kingdom and sustain healthy long-lasting and truly intimate relationships. He is stuck in a boy phase, looking to be constantly nurtured by a woman as if she is his mother not his lover or wife; or he is constantly engaging himself in saving damsels in distress with his shining armour. And as we discussed in Relationship Dynamics between Knights and Damsels, the armour is symbolic of his ability, or rather inability, to open up emotionally. When the armour is shining – it is because his heart is closed, he is not vulnerable, he hasn’t faced his dragon and shadow side, and he is only shining an identity that is not truly his authentic inner self. He gathers a false sense of courage and strength when he saves damsels in distress – and each time he no longer has her in distress, and needs to actually build intimacy and a relationship, which requires vulnerability, he becomes uncomfortable and runs off to “save” another damsel. Let’s face it – it’s easier to “save” someone who is in distress, who is vulnerable, and who doesn’t need much except a helping hand or even a sweet word to feel all better. And through his “saving damsels” – he is also validating a version of strength and his ego, which ar actually false and keep him stuck in inner weakness and powerlessness. It’s much harder to actually make something work and sustain a connection with someone who knows their worth, and doesn’t “need saving”. A queen doesn’t need to be saved, but she needs to feel safe and loved. In other words – a boy doesn’t have the emotional maturity to handle a queen, because he is not yet a king himself.

Death is a male initiation rite. But death doesn’t mean “death” – it means facing the fears of death. The fears of death aren’t usually about death itself – they are our inner most deepest fears, and the fears of endings. These endings are those of his identity, of his version of himself, of his masked self and masked heart – in a way, he has to kill the false and unauthentic version of who he thinks he is, so that his heart and true essence can shine and be shared with another. So that he can truly love and be loved – he needs to be of open honest heart, to allow love to stir his wildish soul.

He must face his deepest insecurities – by facing his fears, his weaknesses, his inabilities, his inadequacies, his trust and abandonment issues, his self-doubts, and his limiting self-beliefs.

A man’s maturation process is to deal with his fear of death, of dying, of endings – otherwise he stays in his boy/child energy. As we discussed, the fears aren’t only related to endings and death – they are fears of vulnerability, intimacy, emotions, and true self. This process feels like a death because in essence he is killing off layers of himself which he truly identified with.

When a man doesn’t mature properly into manhood, he is stuck in his boy psychology. When he doesn’t get the cuddles he wants, whenever he wants them, or doesn’t have to save a damsel in distress to gain a false sense of strength or ego validation, he either leaves because his sense of identity is triggered, or he throws tantrums like a little baby. Or on the other extreme, he becomes controlling, aggressive, cold, emotionally detached and unable to form real intimacy, and in many cases, he becomes abusive because he thinks that “this is what masculinity is”.

Let’s look at an example of an initiatory rite for men.

An Example.

In the old days, initiatory rites for men were usually through a hunt, or through spending few nights in darkness. In some Artic Indigenous tribes, once the father decided that the son was ready to step into his own power, and would be capable of providing and maturing into a man, he’d tell his wife “it’s time to let him go.” This wasn’t just his decision, based on his own knowledge, this was also something that the elders of the tribe would advice on also – because they offered and held more wisdom and experience.

The father would then take the boy with a canoe to the wilderness, where he would give the young boy all that he’d need for the next few days, such as fishing gear, warm clothes and fire matches, and the boy would have a sort of adventure on his own. This gave the boy the courage, strength, trust, belief and confidence in himself that he can do it and others trust that he can do it.

Remember that this wasn’t just a spontaneous decision to initiate the boy into manhood and send him off in the wilderness – for years, both his mother and father would be teaching him and guiding him to develop the qualities he’d need as a man someday.

The mother would of course feel afraid, she’d often cry on the shore as the boat went off, not wanting to let him go into the woods by himself – and this is where her husband would hold her and say, “it’s okay.” He would comfort her, and she would settle into him safely, because she trusted his judgment and wisdom, because he had earned her trust throughout the years in the way that he handled life both for himself and the family – and so she knew that he had also provided the boy, throughout the years, all that he’d need to trust and believe in his own skills, and move into the next phase of his maturation, into manhood.

What’s important to notice in these stories also is the beautiful interdependence and dance between both the male and the female – their beautiful support of one another – and the trust they have built together, upon which all else is built.

Also – when we celebrate the unique individualities of our children since a young age, we show them trust, increase their confidence, and guide them into their new phase. We allow them to grow into who they want to be, to mature and to develop into their beautiful selves discovering their talents and skills with self-believe, and ultimately, we support and guide them into becoming a vessel of their natural creative expression of self.

Darkness as Initiation.

Darkness is an initiation. Many of the descend-into-the-underground ceremonies are basically symbolizing the pathway to darkness as an initiation rite – and this is the pathway for men’s rites of passage. This is why Yakut shamans have disks representing the sun and moon sewn onto clothing – to provide light on the pathway to the otherworld. This pathway however is a dangerous one, fraught with difficulties and preternatural obstacles that only an initiate or a spirit being can overcome. Such rites are initiated only when the initiate is ready and chosen to do so.

In Finnish lore such obstacles include a great eagle, a snake, a fiery pond or waterfall, and a river bristling with swords. Similar obstacles are also found in the mythologies of the Middle and Far East, of classical antiquity, and of the Germanic people, and they were also cultivated in the Christian vision literature and art of the Middle Ages. According to the ancient Germans and the Yakuts of Siberia, the dead had to be equipped either with shoes or a horse to protect them on their difficult journeys. Traditions across both Asia and Europe tell of a river stream surrounding the realm of the dead that must be crossed on a ferry or by a narrow bridge made dangerous by swords, or they speak of a wall surrounding the underworld over which a soul will leap. We see this in ancient Greek myth, with Hades who is the lord of the underworld. 

The Shamanic initiation and the descent into the underworld is a very popular one. But such journeys must be taken with great care and under the guidance of someone of high knowledge. There are many rituals, many of which include substances which induces states of ecstasy, and many of these have become trendy to do – while not really considering the dangers of them. Unfortunately, many of them are perfomed by people who aren’t experienced and can have some tricky consequences. 

The underworld can be entered during such trances, or sometimes it can be entered spontaneously during sleep or a random experience. In Shamanistic cultures such spontaneous experiences were interpreted as proof that the spirits had selected a candidate as a future shaman. 

“According to a Nentsy myth, a woodcutter suddenly found himself on the back of a minryy bird, from which he fell through a hole into the underworld. There he wandered from the dwelling of one spirit to that of another and had to recognize each in turn. He was then cut into pieces and put together again, after which one of the spirits guided him back to the earth’s surface. This experience was taken to be the initiation as a shaman, particularly in view of the dissection and reassembling of the body by the spirits.”

A journey to the underworld was a prerequisite for initiation for shamans – and also, for some of the high priestesses. The central element of this journey was the experience of rebirth.

As a Shamanic ritual, the descent ritual was considered as the highest point in the shaman’s altered state of consciousness and was indicated by a loss of external consciousness. The shaman’s soul was then thought to have left the body and to be traveling in the otherworld in the form of an animal or accompanied by benevolent spirits. 

When descending into the underworld, the shaman tried to solve problems that were thought to be caused by the spirits. For example, if someone was believed to suffered from a illness connected to spirits influencing their life, the shaman would descend to “fetch the person’s soul from the malevolent spirits who had stolen it”. This was also known as “soul retrieval”. Other reasons for descending into the underworld were to acquire knowledge concerning the future, the weather, lost objects, or people; to meet the spirits who assisted at a birth; to escort the soul to its destination; or to accompany the souls of the dead to the underworld.

In our modern day, the descent into the underworld has become more associated with an inner experience of combat against a personal alter ego.  

Women too had to go through these so-called descent initiations, but as we will shortly discuss, this was done later on their life, around their crone phase of maturity. This is because, as per Shamanic lore, women should not have been tainted by “death” as this would imprint on the consciousness of their child and future creations, healing abilities – and taint the lineage forward, unless she already had a solid foundation of her true essence. 

In some ancient cultures, descent into the underworld darkness rituals were perfomed by high priestesses, who were initiated and chosen, and who had devoted their lives only towards spiritual work. Some ancient texts describe the priestesses being put into dark spaces, like a tomb, for up to three days. In this time they would face their greatest fears as all they’d be left with was themselves and their inner selves. Their third eye would become more activated, as not much else would be happening to stimulate their other instincts and senses. They would feel powerless and without control, and as such, would then project all their fears onto the darkness. Through this projection, they would be able to finally face their deepest fears, as they have now risen to the surface, and then raise their own inner light, strength and wisdom to conquer them, or integrate their shadow side. Through this process also, they would advance in their consciousness, and be able to receive, or retrieve, or remember, more mystical and divine information and higher cosmic wisdom. Such extreme initiations of darkness served to awaken the priestesses to their highest psychic abilities, and to their past lives, to create powerful integrated higher consciousness – where they would become able to traverse the higher realities.

You can see though how this can be a tricky and potentially dangerous process, if the initiate is not ready, or guided properly. In the same way, as we saw in the example above, the boy had to be properly trained years before, and even then, he was guided. Surely, he would face his darkness and conquer his fears of death by himself – but he was taught the tools to do it prior.

Another thing to note – is that when a man, or anyone in fact, doesn’t face their own inner demons, dragons, shadows or fears, or however we want to call this, an inner war emerges and continues to exist and be projected until it is faced, dealed with and healed internally. 

War is a kind of modern day initiation into manhood – but it is a forced one. In war, many men are sent into the battle field without the needed skills and preparation. In a way, the collective almost initiates this but it is done unconsciously. Once returning from war, many men are faced with the after effects, not only physical but mainly, psychological and emotional, such as, at the very least, post-traumatic stress disorder.

Unfortunately, in our modern day culture, there aren’t enough good examples of healthy masculinity, and I can only hope this changes. It is up to us to change this, and raise our children to become beautiful men and women, self-reliant and true to themselves, with self-trust and confidence, with self-accountability and responsiblity, able to love and be loved, able to nurture and to support, and able to build their kingdoms, within and without.

For our little boys, we can make sure that we cheer them on not only for their courage, achievements, and muscles – but also, for their kindness, empathic abilities, caring for us, emotional expressions and affections, and their innate abilities to be gentle. We should encourage them to express their feelings and navigate through the wild lands of their unique emotional worlds, as these are the qualities, skills and abilities that will make them truly strong in life.

Becoming the Emperor.

To embody the King, or the emperor as I call it to make the distinction easier, a man must integrate and blend together all aspects of masculinity, as portrayed by the four kings.

King of Cups: Being guided by the element of water, he is the master of the emotional and intuitive realms with clarity and wisdom. Traditionally, this is the man of the heart – the man every woman wants to be with, because he is capable of giving of himself emotionally. Through his emotional intelligence and deep empathy, his heart has remained opened despite the harsh lessons he’s learned through his life experience. He is able to connect and build true intimacy on a deep level – and as such knows how to sustain a long-term relationship in a healthy way. Whenever faced with obstacles in relationships, he understands how to solve them and creates space for his beloved – he knows how to settle all into peace. He is supportive, romantic and creative – desiring to build a kingdom and a family with his beloved, while simultaneously never forgetting to court her, adore her, protect her and nurture her and the love they share. By his side, you will never feel alone.

If the energy if undeveloped or unbalanced, he may become emotionally immature, a cheater, unfaithful, avoidant, fearful of intimacy and commitment, manipulative, repressed, overwhelmed, withdrawn, emotionally cold and unaffectionate.

King of Wands: Being guided by the element of fire, he masters the desires and passions of his heart. He is initiative and takes conscious intentional action. Using his vast experience, he assesses situations and knows where to invest his energy wisely. He is fearless, but not impulsive. He is passionate, but not a cheater or a playboy. With true self confidence, he makes plans and stands with integrity. His courage is inspiring and he is born to lead people by the example he sets as the he walks the twisting paths of life. He inspires his own beloved to be her best self, he believes in her and her creative ideas, and stands by her supporting her unconditionally.

If the energy if undeveloped or unbalanced, he may become impulsive, explosive, dramatic, forceful, domineering, tyrannical, vicious, powerless, ineffective and weak as a leader.

King of Swords: Being guided by the element of air, he is the master of thoughts and intellect. He is cool, calm and collected. He makes wise decisions with clarity and wisdom – and he stands with an air of authority. He makes decisions based on his true self and on his integrity, and not dependent on people’s opinions. His authority is one earned by integrity and higher knowledge, and not because of domination or scare/manipulative tactics. He rules the realm of the mind, and the mind is his trusted companion but not his master. He respects different perspectives rather than getting triggered by them – and is curious and open-minded to allow for differing opinions and points of view. Before making his unshakeable decisions, he looks at all facts, consider nuances, looks for patterns, making connections, breaks down problems and complexities and searches for solutions.

If the energy if undeveloped or unbalanced, he may become judgmental, critical, aggressive, controlling, domineering, dictator-like, oppressive, inhumane, irrational, cold, ruthless, dishonest and undecisive.

King of Pentacles: Being guided by the element of earth, he is the master of the physical realm. He knows how to create stability and security, and into his arms you may fall in your entirety. He creates a space where your fears and worries will be relieved, because through his consistent and wise actions, he has proven to you that he will take care of you and your little ones. With such stability, your creativity and feminity will be free to blossom. He is practical and knows how to manage financial manners, as well take care of his physical well-being. He appreciates the finer things in life and making a home that is comfortable and safe for all is a priority. He is generous with all that he has, emotionally, intellectually and physically – and in this generosity we understand that he really has true wealth and abundance of heart. He will use his own business experience to help and support you in your own.

If the energy if undeveloped or unbalanced, he may become possessive, selfish, narcissistic, greedy, materialistic, wasteful, chauvanistic, making poor financial dicisions, gambler, exploitative, opportunistic, stubborn and rigid.

Art by Susan Seddon Boulet

Women’s Initiation: Maturation into the Empress.

Women’s initiatory rites are many, as I discussed in Women’ Rites of Passage. From maiden to mother, from mother to queen, to crone, and on and on. As we discussed, the female initiatory pathway was not through death – but through life.

It was with the intention of continuation of the lineage – and though for many, in the old days, it included the woman’s psyche preparation for future birth, it was mainly about the passing along of wisdom, roots, and any healing and intuitive abilities that the woman may have. It was meant to develop her unique gifts and abilities, and make her step into and respect her own individuality – so that she can become embodied in her full creative feminine self.

In her first coming-of-age initiation rituals, she would learn to support, nurture and give of herself, while also learning perseverance, courage and inner strength and trust. The facing of her shadows and death wasn’t to “conquer the dragon” as the male’s initiation – it was to learn to ride the dragon.

Fear is something that is almost interwoven into the consciousness and lineage of women’s psyche. So through their feminine abilities and balanced yin energy, they ride the dragon, they tame the dragon, they learn how to speak the language of the fears, how to navigate the unknown lands of darkness, and how to make light out of darkness, life out of nothingness.

Women too had death initiations but it was different from those of the men’s pathway, and it only happens during her crone phase, or so-called, wise blood, inner blood. The reason for that, as per Shamanic lore, was that a woman should not be “tainted by death” in the beginning of her life because this would be imprinted on the conscious of her children, or anything else she’d essentially create and “birth”.

Of course, as we all know, descent initiations have been forcibly done onto women for centuries, and many women go through these early in life – such as by facing hardships, abuse, harm and injustices. While these can create a lot of wisdom, women must remember and be supported and guided, so that they can heal, rather than disassociate or detach from otheir other aspects of themselves. In order for them not to close off and become emotionally detached, or constantly into some “saving role” for other people, mainly their intimate partners, they must apply the healing waters of tenderness, forgiveness and compassion, so that they soften the hard walls around their hearts and psyche, and rebuild their confidence and self-trust.

An Example.

The first coming-of-age ceremony is when a girl has her first period. For the Navajo, this ceremony is called Kinaaldá, and it is believed to be holy because it is the beginning of a woman and how she will most likely identify with herself long after. For four days her mother and other women sing, pray and tell stories to help shape the young woman. The first day, the girl bakes a corn cake, called an alkaan, by burying it in an earthen pit and setting a fire on top of it. For the next days, each morning she runs for miles in all directions, learning perseverance and strength. She learns to offer her community the gifts of her baking, as she gives everyone from her cake – thereby, stepping into the energy of caring, support and nurturing. And on the last day, she is given a massage and is nurtured by others fully, so that she can learn that self-nurturing, and receiving, are just as important as all else in life.

This ceremony is important because its essence is that a girl learns to be aware of her feminine power – how to be grateful and kind, accepting and loving, and how she should take care of her body, while also, learning about her own physical strength and perseverance. Older women also initiate her and guide her to connect to her intuition, and she is encouraged to accept and develop these unseen gifts and talents. The women are there for her, taking her into their hold, guiding her into the creative power of her feminine energy and nurture her intuition. They guide her into trusting her own innate unique gifts, and the immense beauty of her power and responsibility.

This is only the beginning – but it is an important one, because it is the foundation of her feminine energy. As a woman moves into the other phases of her life, from mother to crone to mystic, and so on, she goes through other initiations each time she faces something important in her life.

Becoming the Empress.

What I’d like to focus on today is the concept of the Queen – or what I’ll call The Empress. As we did for the men’s initiation, I am calling this the empress, to differentiate between the phases. Also, as per tarot philosophy, the empress is the embodiment of all the queens, just as the emperor is the embodiment of all kings, and their elements of earth (pentacles), air (swords), fire (wands) and water (cups). Once embodied, it is then the empress’ ability to take the initiatory spark, and work with the willpower of the magician and the intuitive knowledge of the high priestess, to create all that she wants – because she is in her full feminine power.

What I’ve noticed is that as we mature as women, we have very little examples in culture to show us what empowerment and full femininity look like. We often think of femininity as the soft, nurturing energy, portrayed by Mother Mary, Kuan Yin, and even Venus – and while it is a core aspect of feminine energy, it isn’t the only one. As women, we carry within us many nuances and aspects simultaneously. Virgin, temptress, seductress, lover, crone, mother, mystic, priestess, and so on. We are longing while separating, we are the cool air while burning with heat underground, we are the cuddling while also the discerning, we are the laughter and tears, together. And yet, an archetype such as Athena, known for her a bit colder exterior is portrayed as bad. Or Lilith, or Sedna. Even Medusa was portrayed as evil, as history erased the pain she endured and had to finally, and alone, learn to protect herself.

Persephone is another archetype often spoken of nowadays – and often in ways, which I don’t believe are complete or sufficiently nuanced. I have found that her descent, and suffering, are almost glorified as the only way a woman can ascend, and this can carry unhealthy and toxic belief patterns that imprint on the consciousness of women – causing them to almost unconsciously engage in harmful patterns because “we can only become wiser through pain”. This is untrue – and something to be mindful of. Sometimes certain things happen, yes, and as women we have no other choice than to take that underground pathway. But you need to remember that – you do not have to intentionally and consciously suffer, or choose pain, or stay in unhealthy relationships, to gain wisdom, insight and mature into womanhood.

It is important to remember that Persephone was the queen of the underworld, not a naive little girl who stayed powerless, trapped and a victim. As queen, she was discerning and powerful and strong, and actually – she was just as feared and powerful as her husband Hades, so the ancient Greeks would rarely say her name out loud. And yet – the reason why she become so powerful was because she always kept her purity, beauty and love of heart. She rose above her hardships and was able to heal integrating all aspects of herself. She knew for whom and when to take her armour off. She had compassion and forgiveness in her heart, not letting the hardships change her true essence of love. But not all who go down the rabbit hole, can return from Wonderland. Many are stuck there in illusions, delusions, trickster energy, and unhealed wounds. This is why one of our most powerful spiritual gifts is: Discernment.

The truth is that feminine power has many aspects and one of its key aspects are discernment, having expectations, setting boundaries and good decision making. All these are actually parts of what unconditional love really is. To have realistic and healthy expectations and have boundaries is what unconditional love is. To have realistic and healthy expectations and have boundaries is what full embodied femininity is.

While these are not the cuddling mother energies, these are the ones that when married into the nurturing and intuitive and compassionate abilities of ours, create the empress – and our full embodied feminine selves. We are told often in culture not to have expectations on relationships – but we absolutely must have them. Rational and realistic, yes, and in alignment and balance to what we give in turn, yes – but expectations nonetheless.

Something that happens to us as women, is we can sometimes get stuck in our mother phase. Even if we don’t have children, or we have moved passed the mothering phase regarding our children, a question to consider is: Where else are we playing the over-nurturer? Where are we over-mothering, rather than using our energy for something we love without the burden of self-guilt or responsibility for others? Are we mothering our husbands and lovers without receiving anything in turn? Where is there lack of equivalent exchange of energy? Where are we feeling drained, and do we know why but are hesitating making a clear cut decision? Are we having to do everything by ourselves and have little time for our well-being? Are we a queen married to a manchild instead of a king?

A queen needs a king, and no one else would suffice long term. And to be a real queen – we need to embody all aspects of the queen energy, and become, what I call, the empress.

But this is not as easy as it sounds. When a man isn’t being a man – a woman needs to balance this and become more masculine. Because of the nature of how energy works and interacts, masculine (yang) energy activates or initiates feminine (yin) energy. So when a woman’s lover, husband, partner, isn’t being in his healthy strong masculine energy – in other words, isn’t being a man, but is stuck in his boy psychology – a woman becomes the man – she has no other choice. She becomes initiated, not by choice, and perhaps even way too prematurely, into the energy of the queen of swords.

This is an energy of someone who has learned through hardship how to provide for herself and her offspring, how to take care of herself and others, and has built armours of protection because of all her hardships. This is the energy of a woman who is often left alone or feels like she is the only one caring for her child – not necessarily because she is a single parent, but because she is left to make all the decisions. This is the energy of the woman who has taken on the decision making role in an intimate relationship because her partner is passive, and all problems are blamed on her – or she is the one carrying the burden of all worries and responsibilities. Often times, the queen of swords was painted as a pregnant woman in historical tarot cards – though the pregnancy referred mainly to the weight of the worries and fears that all women in the world carried throughout their lives, when they were forced to do it all by themselves, whether literally or not.

When a woman cannot have stability and her basic needs met, including feeling a sense of safety and security, and a relieve of her worries and fears, all her energy is focused on her first chakra to take care of these needs. To do this, and as energy flows downward, she takes away from her sacral energy – and she depletes her creativity, sexuality, fertility, intuition, abundance, and freedom of self. She also hardens her heart. Her underground initiation happens before it’s meant to – before her mystic or crone phase. She faces all traumas and fears, triggered from various life experiences, and this affects not only her but the whole lineage. Unfortunately, this is the world that we live in: Women can’t be women. They need to do it all and often find themselves feeling lonely or alone – not being able to depend on their partner for support, whether emotionally or otherwise. They become the warriors of relieving the worries of their partners, and everyone else, while they have very few to rely on during their stressful times.

Another implication is that, as we already briefly mentioned, when we are dropped into the underworld prematurely, sometimes we just don’t know how to come out. Many become stuck in these dark worlds, in the in-betweens, and there is much healing to be done through compassion and self-forgiveness, which unfortunately is rarely done. There are many examples of this in our modern world – where women attack other women all the time, and have become aggressive and sometimes, just really hateful, projecting constantly the unhealed aspects and wounds of their feminine energy.

Modern day feminism itself has become not about true empowerment, but about negating and diminishing all those who don’t fit a particular narrative. Modern day feminism has been almost hickjacked by contests on who is the biggest victim, thereby encouraging staying trapped in victim mentality; creating commodification of vulnerability; and disregarding of, or erasing, any women who don’t fit a particular version of one’s truth. Meanwhile, the real issues are overlooked, or purposefully, and entirely, erased, which robs women of their power even further.

Something else that I’ve noticed is that it almost feels like we are living in a world where competition, jealousy and aggression/hatred are encouraged. Even many of those who claim love, light and support are engaging in these behaviours because they apply these “virtues” only towards those who fit their own narratives and versions of truth. As a collective, as often sabotage ourselves, our relationships and our communities because we perceive ourselves to be in competition with each other. It is only when we stop seeing ourselves and others as being in competition or against one another, that unhealthy and toxic patterns can end. And these competitions are usually the result of lack mentalities – falsely believing that we are not good enough and that there isn’t enough abundance and space for everyone. Me-versus-you mentalities only perpetuates further disconnections and separations, from self and others, and inner conflicts. We need to learn true support and how to truly hold space for various perspectives and unique individualities. Absolutism sinks us in the water like stones.

So let’s see the different aspects of the queen energy and how when they come together, a woman becomes the embodiment of her full feminine power – becoming the empress.

Queen of Cups: Being guided by the element of water, she is all about mastering the emotional realms, intuition and creativity. She is gentle, nurturing, intuitive, emotionally balanced, sensitive and attuned to her sensitivity, sensual, romantic – and yet innocent and tender open-hearted. She flows like water, like the ebb and flow of waves, knowing the cycles of life and of emotions. She feels deeply and is able to love, and to be loved – she is able to receive and to give of herself, in full intimacy, trust and faith.

Queen of Wands: Being guided by the element of fire, she masters spirit and passion. She is the firey earth and the blood within us. She moves us forward giving rise to inspired creativity to flow through our hands, lips and feet – as dance, poetry, music. She is divine inspiration and creates with passion and focus, not to validate herself or to get social media likes – but because she needs to fulfill the desires of her inspired passions.

Queens of Pentacles: Being guided by the element of earth, she understands the cycles of the land and masters the art of self love and care. She knows the body is our temple, and she knows that without caring for self, she cannot care for anyone else. She is well knowledgeable in managing her finances, and is self-reliant. She manages her time well, and anything related to the household or land is taken care of. She knows how to create out of her resources, and how to use her resources in the optimal manner. Even if she doesn’t have much money, she knows how to manage it, so that she has what she needs. She has learned self-respect, how to meet her needs, and what she values – for she knows that money isn’t about money, but it is about self-values that we should align to.

Queen of Swords: Being guided by the element of air, she sees through all veils and masks. She has been through the hardships of life, and although people may perceive her as cool, she just doesn’t tolerate falseness, masks, and lies. She is discerning and makes her decisions with clarity of mind and heart. She is wise beyond her years, and despite her tough exterior, she is soft and tender on the inside. But – she knows her worth, she has expectations, and will not waste her time nor take off her armour, if you don’t deserve it or if you can’t match her in energy and integrity. She also set very clear boundaries, and has learned that saying no to what’s not good for you is essentially saying yes to more love and more happiness in the future you are creating. She will make clear cuts, without hesitation, when she needs to. She knows – that it is not sufficient enough to make decisions with our lips, we need to be clearly decided on a soul level also. And she also knows – how to navigate through the hardships and fears that we often face, without losing ourselves and our innocence of heart.

The empress is the embodiment of all these aspects of femininity. Her power comes from knowing when, and how, to apply the wisdom of each. There is time for loving, there is time for quiet, there is time for clarity and the sword of truth, there is time for birth and union.

And more than anything, dear reader, remembertrust in yourself, trust your path and your heart, trust your intuition, and trust your unique gifts and abilities. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.

For more of my writings, browse through my Art of Love.

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Cover photography by Maxime Simoncelli.
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