The Emperor: New Paradigm of Partnership
It's a confusing time to identify with the archetypal future represented by the Emperor. As conventional societal structures crumble under our feet, it may seem as though there is nothing left to respect in this patriarchal figure. As if the tale by Hans Christian Andersen is being played out on the world stage with the conventional male power figures disrobed and left naked before us and still too wrapped up in shame to acknowledge the display. Yet as we rest into examining the 21st century Emperor through eyes of compassion, we may be able to witness the nakedness as an unveiling, and by so observing shift the shame into a deeper awareness of the partnership that can exist with the patriarch. Growing up a young girl in the 1970s, the feminist movement swirled around my adolescence. I recall locking myself in the bathroom to sneak a few minutes of alone time to read Gloria Steinem’s Ms Magazine. It was like a window into a world of possibility, where the feminine and the masculine could interact equally with respect and passion. It was a glimpse into a world vastly different than that within our home. While my sisters and I were coached to believe women could do anything, we also were expected to do everything it took to keep our household humming in the old paradigm of patriarchy. And with a tag team of young women to indoctrinate, the lessons began when we were young. We had weekly chores and there was rarely an exception to holding to task. My father, a traveling fertilizer salesmen in the Midwest, was often physically absent during the week. When he arrived home after a long trip or a long day he expected his house to be clean and his meals to be prepared, and as a young girl it felt empowering to have this responsibility. After my sisters and I cleared the dinner dishes, he turned to his reading corner with a martini in hand; his support when the reality of his three gregarious girls with boundless energy overwhelmed him. It was my mother who was front and center for the child care and once we were seen as competent to care for ourselves, we were left alone to make the most of our own choices. My father retained the penultimate authority within the family, and this authority often was expressed through unfair consequences, corporal punishment, or manipulation. Given his long stretches of absence in a household that in all other ways was run by women, I often found the wielding of his authority to be confusing. I discovered many years later in my therapy sessions that I had a mistrust for masculine authority, a mistrust that was linked to the disembodied and unquestioned, or mindless, authority placed around the outmoded construct of patriarchy so common in my youth. I was first introduced to the Emperor card as a student of the Tarot when my then teacher asked that I take a deep look into this major arcana card. In a class of only 6 students it soon became obvious there was no place to hide, and no one or easy answer to the assignment. As I stared into the Emperor's shifted eyes, unable to get a direct connection, I felt confused. His thick white bearded face felt out of reach to me. I had always presumed the Emperor had earned his seat on his throne, yet when I followed the voice inside, I felt something was off. I wanted to be comforted by his wisdom but there was a distant tug of disappointment getting in my way. It would be many years of study and self-inquiry before I had a handle on my relationship with this figure; before I could see the Emperor not as a rigid representation of an old model of patriarchy, but rather as a portal into the divine masculine, the backside to the divine feminine's palm, the complementary aspects I needed to develop and rest into a fulfilling relationship (of my own) of trust, love and growth. This is what I love most about the Tarot, that in these simple and yet profoundly intricate cards we are offered a metaphoric glimpse into the archetypes that define us all. The digital age has created a speedway of change and transparency. Questions now are commonly addressed by search engine making the phrase, “Go ask your father” virtually obsolete. Yet there is wisdom in what the father can teach us and contribute to us. And still as the divine feminine rises in society we also are exploring seemingly countless instances of betrayal and violation. Abuses that cloud any positive aspects the patriarch may bring. As a woman in the 21st century I am challenged by the patriarchal energy; as a mother of 2 men I also am in awe of what compassionately channelled patriarchal energy can bring to our world. How do we stand against the mindless abuses of the old ideas of patriarchy while remaining open to, and supportive of, the divine masculine? The old paradigm of patriarchy no longer can hide behind its cloak of authority; that authority has been revealed to be nothing more than the transparent robes it always has been. Yet to abandon the newly naked Emperor displayed in his innocence is to abandon half of what makes us whole. The Emperor is seated on his throne, crown atop his head, with the sky seemingly on fire behind him. With his eyes glancing to the right it appears that he is mindful of what is coming next. The Emperor can be seen as mindful of the new paradigm of partnership we are discovering. It is our job to put down the shame we may seek to wave at the abuses of the old patriarch, and with well-defined and maintained boundaries of safety to allow the 21st century Emperor to experience this unfolding paradigm through the eyes of the beginner, so that we all may begin again.