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The Emperor’s New Clothes

The Tarot card for 2020 is The Emperor. The Emperor has never been my favorite card in the deck. Nor am I particularly averse to him either. And so at the beginning of this year I figured he would be a somewhat boring focus, but I was determined to make use of this archetype to my advantage.

I had originally set the intention that I would face my financial fears (and I have many of them) and learn to empower myself in the “business” side of my business. And now, in the midst of this pandemic, I am engaging with this archetype in ways I never could have imagined. The Emperor and all he represents are so present and in my face that I honestly cannot see around them to what lies beyond.

So here I am in “Financial Fears Boot Camp.” My household lost 95% of our income in the past month due to the pandemic, and it is unclear when or even if many of those gigs will come back. My partner is a performing and teaching musician and much of my work involved public events and classes. Now, like so many, we find ourselves trying to find new avenues to offer our services in quarantine-safe ways, while homeschooling our children, while navigating the overwhelming and confusing (and ever-changing) paperwork involved with the various economic-relief programs we are applying for, working to ensure our families health and safety, and attempting to create a new budget in the darkness of a complete unknown. We vacillate between feeling deep gratitude for the many blessings we have and frustration for being expected to be productive, creative, and entrepreneurial in the midst of trauma and grief. Our days are a blur of scrambling to catch as many balls before they drop as possible, doing what we can to preserve our health (both mental and physical), and paralyzing anxiety and well I guess shock.

Early this week I finally pulled out The Emperor card from The Dreaming Way Tarot and set him on my desk in front of a stack of the largest books in my library (my makeshift computer-stand for all those video conferences) where I can see him as I work. He is a reminder of what I’m grappling with and that in January I had promised to myself (albeit naively) that by the end of this year I would not be afraid to engage with this archetype anymore.

As my partner and I adjust to groundlessness in alternating bouts of complete awkwardness and surprising moments of grace… we realize there are so many throughout the world who are facing harder loss. We brace for the possibility that there are bigger challenges still ahead. But more and more I am beginning to realize that so much of the discomfort we are feeling is the patriarch’s own discomfort at being told he must go home, he must be passive, he must take shelter in the domestic; that his system on its own is not as strong as he had thought/hoped/insisted. We are starting to notice that the Emperor’s clothing is not what we had been told.

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2020: The Emperor

2020 is the year of The Emperor in Tarot. (2+0+2+0=4) In your contemplative practice you can use The Emperor like a filter to view events through or a seasoning that adds a flavor of this archetype to your intentions this year. Explore and consider what you like AND what you don’t like about The Emperor as a symbol. What do you admire about The Emperor? What frustrates you about him? Over the course of the year I’ll share some of what I unpack about this particular card, but I encourage you to add him into your own practice here and there too. The Emperor archetype can feel complicated during unstable political times. There will be days you might just feel angry looking at his stoic chill face sitting there on his throne, let it motivate you to bring positive change. Other days you’ll feel his burden of responsibility as your own, let it evolve into compassion rather than weigh you down. And there will be times we will be empowered with that experiential wisdom The Emperor brings to the table, run with it! It’s ok to have shifting and conflicting feelings about the idea of The Emperor. It’s complicated.