4 – The Emperor

Card:  4 – The Emperor

Deck:  The Vertigo Tarot

Visual Description:  The Emperor appears to be both puppet and puppet master.  From his fingers hang the strings that operate two marionettes – one is the Fool and the other, a figure in purple that I do not know.  Yet the Emperor’s own head lolls to the side like a forgotten puppet.  His pale hair streams upward in defiance of gravity, his face is a decaying mask, his body wrapped in twine, suggestive of a mummy.  Tangled in the strings of the Fool marionette is a golden scepter.  In the strings of the other is a globe.  Behind him is a rectangular board, with a black rectangle painted on it, creating a border.  His shadow casts strange shapes on the board, bringing another kind of puppet imagery – shadow puppets.

Character Analysis:  Another character I don’t recognize.

Astrological Attributions:  Ares, Jupiter

My Stuff:


Traditional views of masculinity

The Patriarch



Caring, protective father

You might think you’re in control, but who’s controlling you?*

The throne and the power behind it

Decaying* systems of power, the “patriarchy”



Eric Clapton

(*These are ideas specifically brought to mind by the Vertigo image.  The others come from my understanding of the card as an entity separate from this specific deck.  Which is why some of these things are contradictory.)