Key Phrase: It is time for the rebirth of Self.
Symbolism: Mother Earth is giving birth: fecundity; a nurturing space. All of creation embraced and supported. Water, the fountain of creation, life, and growth. Life grows freely when water is present. The planet upon which we live symbolizes the support of our creation. Without Gaia, there is no life. This should be an obvious truth. Gaia works with the energy from the Sun to create a biosphere capable of supporting life. Manifestation and creation spring forth.
New Energy Narrative
This archetype represents creation, birth, rebirth, and the nurturing and supportive environments that provide appropriate spaces for growth. This is important. This card represents nurturing and supportive environments. This is physical birth and physical creation. This is the birth of a new body and the incarnation of a new soul in that body. This is also the spiritual, emotional, or psychological rebirth that arises when one awakens, aligns, and atones. From our healing work we emancipate, find passage, and reConnect. Understand, this is a rebirth not because of some deep esoteric or spiritual necessity. This is a rebirth because the violence of Toxic Socialization has disconnected and damage the Bodily Ego to the point where healing and reconnection is required.
At the highest and most aligned levels, this archetype represents physical creation, the ongoing evolution/emanation of The Body, your Physical Unit, this planet, and all life on it. At mundane levels, this archetype represents birth or rebirth of an idea into reality, or a body into physical creation. This is the fecund product of the union of Force and Formation, the generative output and birthright of all living things.
In the new energy, this archetype points to the importance of safe, healthy, and nurturing spaces filled with prosperity and abundance.
In the new energy, this archetype points to Gaia who provides the life support system upon which we all depend.
Know this, we cannot grow to full power and connection if we are damaged by the world we inhabit.
Kabbalistically speaking, this is Kether’s initial and ongoing realization in Malkuth, and the divine design, preparation, and support that brings us all home. This is the manifestation of the emanation of Consciousness, filtered through archetypes in the individual, collective, and Divine Mind. Note that birth and creation are not events, they are processes of evolution, emanation, and eternal becoming.
Old Energy Narrative
In the old energy, this archetype is primarily used to reinforce female Binary Gender stereotypes (i.e., passivity, association with nature, reproduction, love, etc.) which can be seen inscribed throughout the Tarot corpus. As Papus 1 notes, “The sceptre is held in the left hand to indicate the passive influence, which Nature, Venus-Urania, or the woman exercises in the generation of beings.” Waite notes that this is the “inferior Garden of Eden, the Earthly Paradise.” She is “the fruitful mother of thousands…universal fecundity” 2. She is “mother nature herself” 3 Bridget Biddy provides the following classic old energy description.
The Empress is a beautiful, full-figured woman with blonde hair and a peaceful aura about her. On her head, she wears a crown of twelve stars, showing her connection with the mystical realm and the cycles of the natural world (the twelve months of the year and the twelve planets). Her robe is patterned with pomegranates, symbolic of fertility, and sits upon a luxurious array of cushions and flowing red velvet. One cushion features the symbol of Venus, the planet of love, creativity, fertility, beauty and grace – the essence of the Empress. A beautiful, lush forest and winding stream surround the Empress, signifying her connection with Mother Earth and life itself. She draws her sense of peace from the trees and the water and is rejuvenated by the energy of nature. In the foreground, golden wheat springs from the soil, reflecting abundance from a recent harvest.4
Rachel Pollack suggests she represents “motherhood, love, gentleness. At the same time she signifies sexuality, emotion and the female as mistress. Both motherhood and sex derive from feelings that are non-intellectual and basic to life. Passions rather than ideas. The High Priestess represented the mental side of the female archetype; her deep intuitive understanding. The Empress is pure emotion.” 5
Ralph Metzner echoes the sexist sentiment. “Where Isis is the Cosmic Mother, associated with the moon and with divine secrets, this is De meter, the Earth Mother, symbolizing the nourishing fruitfulness and thousand delights of earth. She is all-loving, radiant, universal female ness. In the Aquarian deck she becomes the Feeler, who stands with anus stretched out to embrace, her golden hair encircling naked breasts. She is called ‘prime mover,’ and it is indeed emotions that stimulate us to movement and activity. The Sign of Cancer, a watery, emotional, maternal sign, is over her head linking her back again to the moon goddess, sea mother.”6
The empress archetype is also used to reinforce hierarchy and authority, through the pervasive use of symbols of hierarchy and privilege.
The old energy archetype enforces negative gender stereotypes which, like all old energy archetypes, often lead to sickness, violence, oppression, diminishment, and death. The new energy archetype rejects Binary Gender stereotypes and instead focuses our attention on a great cosmological truth, hidden by our slave “masters,” which is that Force + Formation births creation. This is not force or formation applied out of balance. This is not force and formation separated by primitive and erroneous ideas of gender. This is not women “in the home” and men with all the power. This is force and formation used by all to create loving and nurturing environments where creation can flourish and where the body and mind can come alive.
As you work to make the shift, consider the archetypal image. Gaia is presented as the loving and nurturing platform for our birth and rebirth. Gaia provides a beautiful environment upon which we can grow to our full potential. This is the example you should follow. This is the hero you should model. Male or female, father or mother, high or low, you must learn to do the same. Immediately begin to create loving and supportive environments where you and the people around you can heal, blossom, grow, and live life to their true and fullest potential. Create loving and nurturing spaces. Start in the home by ending violence of all forms. Allow full human potential to freely blossom. The rest will take care of itself.
It is critically important that we reject old energy ideas and begin to shift our environments immediately. Do not hang on to bitterness and hatred because of toxicities that arise from your past. Do not blame the mother or the father, or anybody for that matter, for imposition of The System. We do to our children what our parents did to us. Our parents did to us what was done to them when they were children. The violence and toxicity go back generations and there is no doorstep on which we may rationally lay blame. The only way forward is to forgive and let go so that new environments and a new world can be created.
Note, forgiving and moving on does not mean enabling (or re-enabling) toxicity or exposing ourselves to abuse. It does not mean allowing the old energies to penetrate and degrade. It means releasing anger and hatred and then making the changes that you need in your environments so that you and those in your care can heal, awaken, activate, and connect.
Understand, earth, our environments, our homes, our workplaces, etc., are not supposed to be places of violence, domination, exploitation and abuse. They are supposed to be places of love, laughter, Consciousness, and nurturing light. Our spaces are not supposed to be paradise for the privileged few and hellish prisons for the exploited masses, they are supposed to be places for all the myriad children of Earth to birth Consciousness, explore, develop, and create. To realize full human potential we have to create environments where we can realize our full emotional, psychological, and genetic potential. We can only do that when we all work on the World together, as equals Joyously completing The Great Work. Therefore…
- Reject old energy archetypes that undermine (or assign to a single gender) the love, protection, and the supports required for human development and connection.
- Men, watch out for anything that discourages the display of love and compassion, or that blocks you from playing a loving and nurturing role. Beware when people tell you that “big boys do not cry,” or that you should “toughen up.” Men have the same love and deep light that women do, and allowing this expression is a step towards creating a world where you can become a nurturing and supportive caregiver. Male or female, we need to embrace compassion and empathy, and we need to create environments that uplift life, not destroy it.
- Women and men, watch out for gender stereotypes and ideas that suggest that “men are like this” and “women are like that.” Gender is a spectrum and you need to be who you are.
- Reject ideas that encourage violence in the name of love and protection (i.e. “spare the rod and spoil the child” ideas). Science is clear on the issue7; violence and neglect do nothing but harm. When you are violent with people (especially children), when you assault them in any way, be it physical, emotional, psychological, or spiritual, you damage them, cause negative changes in their body’s systems, and undermine their ability to connect. Therefore, reject all ideas and archetypes that justify and excuse violence and abuse. It is never OK to harm another, no matter what they have done.
- Do not lay yourself out as a doormat, but learn to be empathic and supportive. Erase hostile and negative places. Create calm and nurturing spaces where people can heal, grow, empower, and connect.
To move forward into the new energies, put aside concerns for domination and oppression and embrace unity, equality, creativity, and free expression of Consciousness.
To move forward into the new energies, put aside violence and abuse and embrace compassionate, loving concern and support for all planetary life.
To move forward into the new energies, embrace unconditional love and support for all living beings.
To move forward into the new energies, create safe and nurturing environments wherever you may roam.
Be sure to understand this: healing and connection are only to be found in environments of loving, caring, and acceptance.
Group Study Questions
- Explore the exclusive association of females with mothering energy. Were you brought up in a home where the mom was the primary caregiver, and where the dad was “absent” in some way? Did you hear ideas that suggested that women were the naturally nurturing ones, the ones who should stay home and raise up the kids?
- An old saying says “It takes a community to raise a child.” Explore this idea in the context of the birth/rebirth archetype. What can communities do, what can your community do, to create safe, nurturing spaces where children can uplift, grow, and connect. What do you think of the statement, “All parents in a child’s life should be loving, nurturing, protective, connected, and there for the child?”
- It is not just children who we need safe, loving, supportive, and nurturing spaces. Explore your family group, your friend group, your work group, and any other community you spend any significant amount of time in. What is the “character” of these communities? Are these communities safe? Are they authentically supportive? Or, are there subtle (or maybe not so subtle) expressions of jealousy, violence, anger, hatred, etc. If negativity remains, you’re going to have to change your environments, or find new ones. It is going to take a few years for the world to change, so you may be alone for a while. do not be afraid. On the horizon, you can see the “sun” rising. The Promise is about to be fulfilled.
1The Tarot of the Bohemians.
2Arthur Edward Waite, The Pictorial Key to the Tarot: Being Fragments of a Secret Tradition Under the Veil of Divination (London: Rider, 1911).
3Zalewski and Zalewski, The Magical Tarot of the Golden Dawn, 83.
4Bridget Biddy, “Empress Tarot Card Meanings,” Biddy Tarot (blog), 2020, https://www.biddytarot.com/tarot-card-meanings/major-arcana/empress/.
5Pollack, Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom.
6Ralph Metzner, Maps of Consciousness: I Ching, Tantra, Tarot, Alchemy, Astrology, Actualism (New York: Collier Books, 1971).
7Mike Sosteric, “Toxic Socialization,” 2016, https://www.academia.edu/25275338/Toxic_Socialization.