Grief and the grieving process might be a strange indication from the Emperor and Empress. We normally see these Tarot cards as representing the Father and the Mother respectively. The Empress is also a good indicator for pregnancy, particularly if the Three of Cups, Abundance is connected.
When either of these cards appear prominently in a reading where the focus is not about parents or children, nor about the other obvious interpretations, such as an authority figure, a boss, or the need for re-assurance and continuity, then we have to go further.
One clue is when a client is looking for happiness, and nothing else, for it invariably shows the haunting effects of a traumatic past.
Empress as a symbol of grief
The simple desire for friends and family to be happy is a strong indicator of unresolved issues and grief from the death of a dearly loved relative, such as a mother or father. Coupled with a strong desire not to hurt anyone, life becomes blocked. This was case for a woman in her thirties who had lost several influential female members (an aunt and a grandmother). The Empress card was top of the Desires stack = she wanted a baby. She found herself in a situation where she had a good boyfriend but still had feelings for her ex. A clear conflict of loyalty; she wanted her ex-boyfriend back, but didn’t want to hurt the current amour. She wanted guidance from her late Grandmother, even though she said she talked to her Grandmother daily.
The strange thing is that the client is often aware that the grieving process has not completed. Like most people, they feel the presence of departed relatives, but fear that by completing the grieving process they will no longer feel their loved ones around.
Grandmother is the key
I have seen similar examples with the Emperor, but then it gets weird, for the projection of grief always seems to go to the archetypal Empress, the grandmother. Recently a client came to me on her 36th birthday. I strongly felt the presence of her grandmother. The Emperor and the Empress were significant in the reading. She was in a good relationship, but she admitted she did not want to live beyond 35. More digging revealed she was abused by her mother when she was eight. Recently the mother had responded well to treatment for a bipolar disorder, which paradoxically robbed the client of catharsis.
Short Tarot readings are never going to be long enough in these situations, but there is always hope – the Future always looks bright, but that in itself is rarely enough for the client.