The Empress represents the divine feminine. She embodies the High Priestess’s energy and brings life to this world through her creations. In most Tarot decks, the Empress is depicted in nature, surrounded by foliage, plants, and animals, representing the idea that divinity is present in each of these life forms.
The Empress’s role is to serve and protect nature. She reminds us that we serve God by serving the elements closest to God and learning their ways.
To me, the Empress archetype offers a reminder to look for the divinity in all things and to also learn from the divinity in all things.
Lessons from the Empress
In the Bhakti Yoga tradition, there is a story called The Gurus of Nature. In this story, we are reminded of the lessons that each life form teaches us. A Python, for example, “does not go around [looking] for its food. Instead, it sits [in] one place, waiting patiently for food to come its way. Regardless of whether the food is tasty or not /sufficient or not, the python is content with its food.” The lesson in the life of this creature is that we should spend time sitting patiently in meditation and learn to be content with the sustenance life gives us.
The honey bee is another element of nature highlighted in this story. “A Honey Bee gathers nectar from many flowers without hurting them. It swallows the required amount for itself, converts the remaining nectar into sweet Honey, and stores [it] in a bee hive.” The lesson in the life of this creature is that we should gather information and knowledge from various sources and share the teachings when necessary.
What have you learned from the creatures and elements in nature?
The Empress and Self-Care
The Empress archetype does not only invite us to see and care for the representations of divinity in the world outside of us. She also asks that we recognize and care for the divinity in ourselves.
A few years ago, I was connecting for a flight home at an international airport. It had been a glorious but long trip, and by the time my flight was ready to board, I was exhausted. The boarding process at this airport was insane. There was a crowd of hundreds of people with a gate agent at the front shouting out group numbers and forcing those in the called group to push through the crowd. Amid this chaos, the gate agent skipped a group number, my group number.
When the gate agent called out group 5 instead of 4, I lost it. Until then, I reminded myself to be patient, that I would be on the plane soon, and finally get some rest. But when that man skipped my group number altogether, the thin thread holding me together unraveled, and the exhaustion exploded from my mouth. I could have simply said, Sir, did you skip group 4?, but I didn’t. Instead, I stomped my foot on the floor and yelled, WHAT ABOUT GROUP FOUR? WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE, MAN! COME ON!
The gate agent looked at me, apologized, and called group 4. I then boarded the plane with my fellow passengers who had just witnessed me, a 40-year-old, throw a tantrum. Was I embarrassed? Yes, I was embarrassed! But, did I wallow in shame for the entire flight? No. Instead, I spent time unpacking what happened and why.
I should not have screamed at the gate agent, and I also missed the opportunity to apologize even when I immediately knew I was wrong. But, there was nothing I could do about either of those things. I could only acknowledge that I was fu(king tired, and I should not allow myself to get that tired anymore. I should take care of myself and my needs because when I don’t, I lash out at other people and impact their day, mood, and the people with whom they interact.
In this experience, the Empress archetype arrived to show me what happens when I do not care for the divinity within me. She reminded me of the consequences of forgetting to care for myself and showed me how that lack of self-care impacts the collective. Self-care, although it often includes relaxation and treating ourselves to luxury, does not solely impact the individual. We are all connected.
Sometimes, we show our care for others by caring for ourselves.