Alrighty! Let's talk about The Emperor. Energetically speaking, I think of The Emperor as a sort of mix between what Aries represents in the zodiac and Saturn's "feel." Yes, I'm aware that The Emperor is tied to Aries in terms of astrology, but not Saturn. However, I can't shake the Saturnian vibe that this card gives me. So, as an astrology person, it's always really helpful for me to think of the card this way.
The Emperor is all about authority. In the Smith Rider Waite card image, he's pictured as an older (Saturnian) man sitting on a throne with rams heads (representing Aries.) The image conveys a feeling of control and stability. The Emperor is a "doer," but in a different way than the Magician...it's definitely the part of ourselves that is a boss or a leader. The Emperor represents that part of ourselves that isn't afraid to do work - check emails, pay bills, and generally make moves.
When you find The Emperor upright in a reading, it's an invitation to be in touch with that Saturnian/Aries part of ourselves. In general, it's all about recognizing our authority, expertise, and leadership ability.
In terms of career or finance, this can represent success or even a promotion, it can symbolize a boss or leader, or it can be a suggestion to invest conservatively.
If we're talking about The Emperor in terms of relationships, we're talking about someone who is stable, sure of themselves, and maybe slightly authoritarian. Don't expect a lot of grand romantic gestures...it's just not The Emperor's thing.
All in all - when we’re in the Emperor, we’re in a place where we’re not afraid to stand in our power and take up space in the world.
In general, when I see the Emperor reversed in a reading, it speaks to the structure and foundation of the upright meaning of the card gone awry. In the reversal, we see domination, abuse of power, and rigidity. This can be in relation to the querent or an external factor/person/situation in the querent's life. This can also be a message around standing up to or trying to escape authority. The key thing here is that it's that it's all about power and control being taken to a "low vibe" place.
Conversely, I have seen this card pop up when someone is just afraid to shine or take up space in the world…
I have often seen this pop up in relationship readings where there is some sort of inequality or power imbalance in the partnership, but this is also a card that can pop up around uncomfortable work/finance stuff. You know the stuff I'm talking about - a job that is so structured it's sucking the life out of you...
At it's heart, this reversal is all about inappropriate structure, control, relationship to authority, and belief in oneself.