When you pull the Empress reversed in a tarot spread, take heed. Not only are you getting a visit from one of the Major Arcana, but that card is one of the earliest Major Arcana cards in the deck and key to very basic issues in your life. This is a sign to hold back and evaluate because whatever is at the root of your question could have implications for your freedom, comfort, and ability to control your life, as well as your ability to have respect for letting others control theirs. The Empress is an awesome card, but its reversed form is a sign something is off and needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

Major Arcana Calling

The Major Arcana cards represent the major issues and stages of your life, while the Minor Arcana add the details. When you get a Major Arcana card in a reading, pay a little more attention to that spot in the spread because it means there is a key point in your question related to that card.

But what makes the Empress so special is that it’s an early card. The Major Arcana begin with the Fool setting out on his task or journey, and the sequence then moves on to two parental-like sets: The Magician and High Priestess, and the Emperor and Empress. When you get one of these cards, you’re getting a very basic wakeup call because these cards are like your family. They’re the matriarchs and patriarchs, and while they can represent an aspect of what you’re experiencing in your life (e.g. the major change of the Tower), they are also your background and your origin. There’s a little more there with these cards.

A Review of the Empress

Very quickly, the key points of the Empress in general are found in her physical presentation:

  • Pomegranate designs on her robes and a pregnancy: Signs of fertility, which can relate to children but can also relate to creativity and growth, be it artistic, personal, gardening skills, or what have you.
  • The crown of stars: This is a spiritual link to the High Priestess, showing that the Empress is not just a physical mother but a form of emotional support. Some interpretations consider the crown a sign of angelic characteristics.
  • The heart shield: Many representations of the Empress show a heart-shaped shield near her, or show her holding a shield with a heart on it (or a similar symbol). This is your protectress, shielding you from the bad and defending your emotions.
  • Flowing robes and blond hair: And speaking of emotions, looky here. A classic drawing of the Empress, from the Rider-Waite deck, shows her in flowing, almost streaming robes, and she’s typically a blonde. This links her with the suit of Cups and its emphasis on emotion and feeling, which is what mother figures are also often linked with. It can also represent the flow of creativity and how comfort makes the flow easier.

That Reversed Card, Tho

Turn the Empress upside-down, though, and you can see more than a few problems.

Among the more direct interpretations are overmothering, smothering, and possibly trouble related to pregnancy. The Empress reversed could mean an unplanned pregnancy, miscarriage, or infertility issue is about to show up; you or someone you know could be involved in a pregnancy that seems fine but then encounters obstacles, like a surrounding financial situation taking a dive. Even if the physical pregnancy isn’t affected, there could be something around it that makes the pregnancy difficult.

It could also be that the pregnant woman will experience some really annoying smothery behavior from relatives. If that’s ringing alarm klaxons for you, now you have a chance to develop a strategy. Save up, get thrifty with the paychecks, and go for minimalism when decorating the nursery. Set boundaries with pushy relatives or co-workers, and be sure you or whoever’s pregnant knows her rights regarding family leave. And take care of your/her health!

Of course, actual pregnancy and motherhood don’t have to be involved. Maybe you’re switching jobs and get the Empress reversed in a spot dealing with others’ behavior. You could have a prima donna on your hands, or a supervisor who acts a little too much like your mother (though a warning: be sure you’re not projecting unconscious bias against a female supervisor). Or, you could have someone there who isn’t too happy about female employees getting pregnant, and that attitude affects everyone in the office.

And it could be you who becomes that troublesome worker. Pay attention to how you act toward others, too.

Trouble with a woman of female figurehead is also a possible interpretation. You can’t think of all the women in your life as mother figures because many clearly aren’t, and it’s a stereotype to treat all women as if they are only mothers in one form or another. But for the purposes of answering your question, there is a link between the higher-up/underling and parent/child relationship, and the Empress reversed can indicate that the higher-up does not have your best interest in mind.

Overmothering can apply to people on equal footing, too. An overly “caring” roommate, a stranger who inappropriately comments on your clothes or food choices — all of these can relate to the Empress reversed. Co-dependency and enabling are also related behaviors.

Reversed tarot cards can have meanings that are at both ends of the scale. In the Empress reversed’s case, just as you can have smothering, you can also have neglect and even bullying. This aspect of the reversed card is not kind and not caring, and instead of providing comfort, it wants to take comfort away or simply doesn’t care if you are comfortable.

On a less traumatic note, the Empress reversed can be about blocked creativity. (That actually sounds like a relief after all the other possible meanings. “Oh, writer’s block? That’s all?”) In this case, look at how your comfort level with the project, or even your physical comfort including the cleanliness of your workspace and the surrounding environmental issues, all affect how you produce creative content.

If you have trouble remembering what the Empress reversed means, look at that crown of stars. When the card is upside-down, the stars look like they’re falling. Something has gone off with the growing, flowing love of the Empress.

Don’t get alarmed, though. Remember that the Empress reversed is one card, and the surrounding cards will all play a role. Maybe everyone else involved is fantastic, and the Empress reversed isn’t that difficult to deal with. Or maybe the Empress reversed is actually on your side, and you both work to overcome some blocked creativity with a work project. A professional online tarot reading will help guide you through the whole spread and not just one aspect of it.

The Empress reversed is a sign to pay attention. But, like all signs from the tarot, it’s not a sure signal that everything will go wrong. You’ll find you have plenty of solutions to choose from now that you’ve gotten that head’s up.