The Joy of Shards: The Empress

January 2, 2010

The Empress - Niki de Saint Phalle's Tarot Garden, Tuscany, Italy

III The Empress: The Bountiful World of Venus

(Excerpt from Brian Clark’s article for Astrolog in 2005, A Journey through the Tarot Trumps, on the Major Arcana of the Celestial Tarot)

In the astrological pantheon the personal feminine is symbolised by the Moon and Venus. As archetypal symbols they personify the anima; the Moon being Mother, Caretaker and Provider while Venus reflects the Other, Sister, Lover, Equal. The Moon represents first love or mother love, attachment figures and nurturers, while Venus’ urge is equal love, based on her desires and values. Developmentally the Moon governs infancy and childhood while Venus governs the transition into puberty when passions are awoken and the urge for independence flourishes. In anima development Venus follows the Moon as libido is withdrawn from its projection onto mother and transferred onto sister, sister’s friends and female equals, the surrogates of Venus. Appropriately Venus governs the Empress, the card following the lunar domain of the High Priestess.

As goddess of love, sexuality and beauty Venus’ origins are rooted in the Near East. To the Greeks she was Aphrodite whose cult of worship was brought to Cyprus by the seafaring Phoenicians. While her cult was imported she became uniquely Greek, a goddess who often conflicted with the emerging culture and tradition. Later the Romans claimed Venus as their patroness being mother to Aeneas, the ancient founder of Rome. Aphrodite’s genealogy is not consistent in our ancient sources. According to Homer Aphrodite is the daughter of Zeus and Dione. However Hesiod portrays the great goddess of sexual love being fathered by the severed genitals of Ouranus and brought into creation out of the womb of the sea, ostensibly goddesses without parents. Energetically Aphrodite represents a force that is not easily parented. The double tradition of Aphrodite’s birth is also consistent with her dual nature. In Greece she was known as Aphrodite Urania, the ethereal and sublime one, born of heaven who represented heavenly and spiritual love as well as Aphrodite Pandemos, the goddess embodied physical and sensual love.

Astrologically we see the duality of Venus represented by her domiciles of earthy Taurus and heavenly Libra. Taurus carries the earthy, sensual, fertile and resourceful sides of the goddess while Libra reflects her heavenly sides of culture and beauty. United in her image they reflect her passion for beauty, love and life and the Empress embraces this duality: her arms are open and her breasts are bare as a gesture of her openness and desire to be known. Venus wears her magic girdle animating her ability to cast love spells and be overwhelmed with desire. Her sash is fertile green symbolising the abundance and fertility of her realm.

 Attending the goddess is the sacred dove, messenger of peace and reconciliation. Her heavenly side inspires peace and tranquillity easing differences through reconciliation and acceptance, demanding equality and harmony. Also at her side is Eros, her constant companion. As her emissary he is the force of love that bursts into our lives to change the way we relate and share. Once struck by one of his arrows nothing can ever be the same! Similarly Venus as the Empress symbolises an alchemical process as she passionately transforms any situation she encounters.

However Venus as the mother of Cupid also represents motherhood, another aspect of the Empress. When the card appears it may signify maternal urges or represent a mother figure or nurturing atmosphere. As Empress, Venus represents the spectrum of mature femininity encompassing the desire for pleasure and abundance accompanied by responsibility for what she creates. The Empress asks the question “what area of your life needs abundance, fertility and creativity?” She also points to a relationship in the individual’s life which needs nurturance and love. On an oracular level she predicts a phase of growth and abundance, a desire to be creative and an urge to be involved both physically and cerebrally.

III - The Empress - Celestial Tarot Deck

The Celestial Tarot was released in 2005, text by Australian astrologist and teacher, Brian Clark and cards designed by Kay Stevenson. The comprehensive book/deck set was released in 2007. 

I am SOOOOOoooooooooo getting this deck!!

Venus is in Aries in the 8th house in my natal chart. The Sabian Symbols are: 29 Aries – “A celestial choir singing” with the opposing degree being,

29 Libra “Humanity seeking to span the bridge of knowledge”.

Twenty-nine, the anaretic degree, which astrologists who integrate the idea of Karma or past lives into their interpretation of a chart, consider to be particularly portentous in that the native (being me) has ‘one last chance’ in this lifetime to learn the lessons of that particular sign.

My moon is also in Aries – also in the 8th house.

If 2009 was about tuning my ears to hear the music of the spheres; 2010 may very well be about showing others what I have heard and how they can tune their ears to hear what I hear.

There’s a place underground
Where I go when you’re out
I’m at home making sounds
And I can see what you can see, the time has come
And everything you’ve ever been is overcome
You’re leaving all your past behind, it’s for the best
You’ve realised this kind of life is all thats left

Can you hear, can you hear, can you hear
Can you hear, can you hear, can you hear
~ lyrics The Open


  1. I’m not familiar with the Celestial Tarot deck, but it looks gorgeous! I’m looking forward to hearing more about it in future posts!

  2. I’m listening!

    I don’t have the Celestial, but the Spiral is fantastic! What really stood out for me in this entry was the duality of Venus, taking both her Taurean and Libran aspects into consideration. So often, The Empress is portrayed as Mother or maybe Seductress and nothing else. This makes her more… encompassing. Sometimes tarot interpretation can be so narrow; I’m all for _e x p a n s i o n_

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