The Magician & The Wheel of Fortune
The High Priestess & Justice
The Empress & The Hanged Man
The Emperor & Death
The Hierophant & Temperance
The Lovers & The Devil
The Chariot & The Tower
Strength & The Star
The Hermit & The Moon
Ones & Nines
Twos & Eights
Threes & Sevens
Fours & Sixes
In The Numerical Tarot:
The Emperor is
THE EMPEROR & DEATH
If the Major Trumps of tarot were symmetrically designed, the Emperor would be considered the husband to the feminine forces of the equidistant six. A concept that would be obvious if the Major Trumps were viewed as two sets of 9, as they are within The Numerical Tarot. As part of a 1 thru 9 progression, the Emperor symbolizes to us the beginning of the substantive mass of existence, and the process of building the three dimensions of reality (see Dimensional progression elsewhere on this site). This idea of beginning a process of building at the number four makes this card important to the ideas of commitment, foundation and ambition.
In the sexual progression (seen elsewhere on this site), the number 4 represented foreplay and the establishment of sexual readiness. In the creativity progression, it represented the preparation and research necessary for a successful intellectual or imaginative conclusion (see A Significant Signature of Nature elsewhere on this site). Both of these abstract progressions showed the need for a strong foundation to be established at the number 4 before proceeding to the build-up of the equidistant 6. Strength, power, discipline, guidance and all these masculine, yang characteristics are all poured into this one symbol of an Emperor.
On the number line, the power of the number 2 was described as immediate and direct (i.e. the path of least distance), while the power of the number 4 was described as optional and open to suggestion (i.e. the path of least resistance). In the dimensional language model, the number 4 was allowed to progress in 'any' direction. But while this remained an option or choice, the decision to continue the progression itself was not considered optional, but mandatory and eventual or inevitable, due to the peristaltic, 'reverse entropy' of one through nine progressions.
The 'optional' energy of The Emperor card symbolizes the strength and discipline required to meet the demands of penetrating, and finding ones way through a 4/5/6 cluster, maze or mass of coagulated existence. Symbolic of 'work' itself, this seemingly optional but still mandatory and eventual process, means that with courage and fortitude, a path through life will be forged. Thus, the stronger the Emperor, the stronger the results of the whole numerical progression.
At its best, the Emperor is a 'Superman,' strong, aggressive, stable and bearing. While at his worst, he is a greedy workaholic whose empire is never big enough, over aggressive and overbearing, a person who sees everyone around him as lazy, a bully.
Opposite the Emperor is the card titled Death. Probably the most misunderstood card of any deck, and not nearly as ominous as many think when they see it appear in a reading. The card of Death symbolizes the destructive death of an entity or event. The two pillars in the distance come from the card labeled The Moon, which is the destination Death is heading for. To The Numerical Tarot, the Moon is the card of actual 'death' or endings. Thus the Death card symbolizes the changes that occur along a path toward this goal.
Seeing the Death card as an opposite to the Emperor is not easy. Perhaps if the card were labeled 'Mr. Death' we could relate to it as more of a human entity with motives opposite to that of 'Mr. Emperor.' Then we would be able to see how the Emperor's ameliorate characteristics of strength, power, discipline, guidance and building of a mass of existence, becomes inverted or deteriorative. If we saw things that way, we would see how the Emperor represents welcome ameliorate changes that promote stability and build toward a happy ending, while 'Mr. Death' would represent the catastrophic changes that destroy all hope, create instability, and lead to an eventual demise (at card 9, the Moon).
At its worst, the Death card represents unnecessary destruction, like the ravages of war or senseless crimes. It also represents weakness, and behavior that leads to unwanted changes, i.e. a weak commitment, that leads to a compromised foundation, that leads to the dubious and unpredictable future that we see depicted in the equidistant 6 (the Devil)!
At its best, the Death card represents necessary destruction, like clearing away that which is old and in the way for something new and better - the predecessor to the double edged sword of 'progress' in card 6. The religious figure that falls before Death shows how these winds of change affect everyone. While the other people falling in the path of 'Mr. Death' represent those who are afraid, weak and without guidance, easy prey for destructive forces. When combined with its equidistant partner (The Devil), the Death card represents the vulnerability of man that leads to the decadence of a 6. Finally, we see how the concept of death or dying also carries with it the mandatory and eventual characteristics of any 4/5/6 progression, as death becomes an inevitable function of all 'things'.
So the Emperor builds, and Death destroys. Mr Death is cutting down everything in his path, whether that is good or bad depends on your point of view. If you can accept change, you will survive, and the unpredictable aspects of the equidistant 6 will be seen as an undetermined future of opportunities rather that a dubious conjecture of doubt that causes you to fall prey to your own fears. At this point, the vulnerability of the number 4 becomes another double edged sword of good and bad influence.
IN THE ISOMORPHIC TAROT DECK, I make a slight alteration with regard to the Emperor, and a big change to the Death card. In my deck, I choose to relegate cards of royalty to the Court cards. Because of this, my Emperor card is no longer portrayed as a true Emperor, but is instead illustrated with the more generic image of a 'strong man.' As a 'strong man' this icon could still be considered royalty if one prefers, or he could be considered a soldier, or as I prefer, just a strong person (I use a man for this symbol because the number four is considered the yang, opposite to the Altruistic Angel in my 'Lovers' card). I title the card Benevolence, the Mighty Hero.
Because I see the number nine as the true card of literal death, I choose to illustrate the 'death' card with an image that opposes the 'strong man' image. Thus my 'death' card is altered into that of a weak person being dragged down like wild prey on the planes of Africa, by a serpent from hell. I title the card Malevolence, the Feeble Victim.
NOTE: Go to the DECK section of this site, to learn more about the NAMES and titles of this deck and how they are picked to describe a gridded pattern that utilizes extremes and in-betweens. Each card in this deck is but one possible expression on a spectrum of possibilities. There is a lot more to learn, than what is being shown here.