When we think of most things in life, we can usually view it as having four aspects of itself: mind (air, mental energy), body (earth, physical energy), heart (water, emotional energy) and spirit (fire, spiritual energy). In tarot philosophy, we have the four queens signifying all these aspects of consciousness and self-development: the queen of swords for mind and the element of air, the queen of cups for emotions and the element of water, the queen of pentacles for the body and the element of earth, and the queen of wands for spirit and the element of fire. These are also the aspects of well-being – for holistic well-being is taking care of all aspects of ourselves: emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. And going back to tarot philosophy, which is essentially based on esoteric teachings, the empress is the embodiment of the four queens i.e. she is the embodiment of the full creative aspect of feminine energy and the maturation of the female psyche.

Ruled by the number three, she is the creation itself, as this is also the number of creation. One is the spark, two is the interaction, and three creates the circuit of energy which ultimately grounds something into physical form. This is why she is almost always portrayed as perpetually pregnant – because she continuously creates all, anything and everything, she brings the unmanifest to the manifest through the high priestess, who is the essence of feminine energy.

We can also think of creation in this way: the journey of the fool (which essentially outlines the evolution of human consciousness) begins with the spark of creation, the fool, which is all about unconditional trust in life itself – it is the leap of faith. We then move into the magician – who is the seed itself, the manifestor, our creative abilities and willpower, and then we take the intuitive knowledge and mystical wisdom of the high priestess, who also symbolizes the conception of the seed within her cosmic womb, and merge it into the empress – the she through which all is birthed into physical form – the she who is in her full feminine power embodying the aspects of all queens and can create all that she wants and desires.

To understand the empress, and feminine energy overall, we need to first understand the high priestess. The high priestess is the cosmic egg, the womb within which all is conceived. She sits on a throne in full self-knowledge, which is why the first thing that each woman should do is know thyself. When a woman doesn’t know herself nothing much will ever flow in the right way for her. Feminine energy is receptive and magnetic, and whatever a woman allows will persist.

Think of the sperm and the egg. There are times of quietness and no action, and then there are times of a lot of action with sperm going towards it and fighting for each one to be chosen. The egg always remains in itself, and just sits there discerning. To most it will say no, until the right one approaches, and she then chooses to open up to it.

Out of self-knowledge, a woman will discern and wait for the right one – the one that aligns with her true desires and her values. She doesn’t freak out during the times of quietness, she doesn’t doubt nor stand up and start searching and going after temporary pleasures or instant gratification, she sits there in her power and knowing that she attracts, and eventually the right one will come. She will then choose it, allow it, and will bring the unmanifest into the manifest. This is why the high priestess has her legs closed, while the empress has hers opened surrounded by the lushness of earth and wildlife and abundance. 

Once a woman knows herself, she begins to give rise to the four aspects of herself which are embodied in the empress. She will the water with emotional maturity and ability to nurture, and she will be the inspired creativity through fire. She will know discernment and have clarity of mind like the queen of swords, and she will also be the queen of pentacles who takes care of her body and finances and all her physical possessions. Even if she only has twenty dollars in her bank account, she will do the best she can with what she has. If she can’t buy a new dress, she will remake an old dress anew. Perhaps she’ll even use an old shirt fabric to sew herself something new – this is the creative aspect also.

Feminine energy is magnetic and receptive, and it knows how to say no and discern. She sits in the abundance she knows she has within her, and in her power of magnetism, and trusts the times of no action and quietness. She doesn’t do, do, do, make happen, make happen, make happen, all the time – which is the masculine way of energy flow.

In our modern day unfortunately, many women are forced to live as men, and vice versa, and as much as we are told to be true to ourselves, societies rarely support us to live in our authenticity. And when we are forced to live against the natural flow of our energy, we are essentially denied a part of our individuality, integrity and worthiness. So it is important to understand, and remember, and awaken ourselves into our remembering, of what are all aspects of ourselves, so that we can come into our wholeness and full potential as human beings. 

What I’ve noticed is that as we mature as women, we have very few examples in culture to show us what empowerment and full femininity really 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. Discernment and intelligence serve to bring a woman’s energy into balance, while remaining in our tenderness and softness, because otherwise we will be mothering men stuck in boy psychology rather than choosing the right man in our life.

As women, we carry within us many nuances and aspects simultaneously. Virgin, temptress, seductress, lover, crone, mother, mystic, priestess, healer 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. Archetypes are great but they only serve a specific aspect of self, not all.

For example, Persephone is an 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. But – 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 all aspects of herself. She knew for whom and when to take her armour off. She didn’t allow vengeance or harshness to consume her and make her something she wasn’t. She didn’t let the darkness taint her heart and soul. 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. Love isn’t a thing that nurtures toxic and unhealthy behaviours, love is a power that destroys all that isn’t true, sincere and healthy.

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 an empress needs an emperor, and no one else would suffice long term, because for something to last there needs to be a match of energy. To embody the empress consciousness, and be fulfilled in ourselves and in intimate relationships – we need to embody all aspects of the queen energy, all four queens, all aspects of ourselves.

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, usually 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.

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 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 woman who doesn’t fit a particular version of someone else’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, we 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 perpetuate 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 creative feminine power – becoming the empress.

B e c o m i n g  T h e  E m p r e s s 

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 – and knowing the cycles of her unique physical, emotional and spiritual wild lands. She is romantic, creative, intuitive, poetic, sensual and she loves deeply – she is love embodied. She is tenderness, forgiveness, empathy and understanding. She feels deeply and is able to love, and to be loved; she has the ability to nurture other people, to be graceful and compassionate and deepen into intimacy through her openness and vulnerability. 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 care and self love being aligned to her values and self worth. 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.

For specific exercises and wellness techniques to embody each of the energies, you are welcome to book a private consultation with me via my Sacred Offerings.  

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 discernment, clarity and the sword of truth, and there is time for union, birth and for the making of love once again.

Do not let the lack of someone else’s self-development or psyche maturation take you away from yourself, dear woman. It is hard indeed to be in our full feminine self nowadays because it is just not supported – and not many people can match us in energy. It is also hard to find a partner who can truly meet us where we need and where we are, because it is only natural that most people don’t want to invest in themselves and their soul growth. But you will – so don’t lower your standards for temporary pleasures or illusions of safety and love. You need a real man – and don’t forget that. Keep your focus on what you want and desire, and it will come, for it is yours and it has no other way to go than in your arms – it belongs to you, because it is your energy, because you are a magnet to it.

As women, we attract, we pull in. We are nature itself, we are memory, we are mystics and healers. We are the good mud, the wet soil and the moist of deep wells. We are the ever-changing tides, the nurturing hands of caressing others into softness and tenderness, and we are also the sensual body of the moon, and the back legs of the red fox at night. We desire. We long for. We yearn, and we sometimes look in the distance towards our I don’t know yet. And it comes, always. And then – we fall into the soulful, wise, loving eyes and arms of the one who is right for us – the man of our heart, the one whose wildish soul we’ll allow to stir us completely.

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

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Cover photography by Katerina Plotnikova. 

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