ATU III The Empress



Atu III: The Empress

Letter: ד Daleth (D)

Number: 4

Proximity: Sephira #2 (Chokmah) to Sephira #3 (Binah)

Ruling Pentagram:

Pent #14 “Luminous”: Air of (K’an) The Abysmal, Water (Above/Below),

Air of (Chen) The Arousing, Thunder (Without/Within)

Berashith: “Elohim saw that it was good”

Corner Hexagrams:

(Upper right) Fire: Hex #59: (Huan) Dispersion / Dissolution

(Lower left) Air: Hex #60: (Chieh) Limitation

(Upper left) Water: Hex #56: (Lü) The Wanderer

(Lower right) Earth: Hex #55: (Fêng) Abundance

Keywords (Dignified): Nurturing, Maternal, Educational, Domestic, Protective, Managerial, Economical, Defiant, Aristocratic, Patient, Determined, Abundant, Benevolent, Loyal, Sensuous, Militant, Fertile, Ecological, Loving

Keywords (Ill-Dignified): Lethargic, Disengaged, Vacillating, Controlling, Punitive, Instigative, Venomous.


Historical: Usually associated to Venus, we find various references to Demeter and/or other goddesses of Abundance. Her importance seems to have been falsely deprecated by those failing to grasp the ground she walks on, which is the very foundation of the Supernals themselves within the Tree of Life. Thus she has been both maligned and poorly defined, historically.

Golden Dawn: Called the Empress (Daughter of the Mighty Ones), the Empress card corresponds to the planetary Venus and places between Sephira #2 (Chokmah) and Sephira #3 (Binah) in the Golden Dawn system. She is often referred to as *sister* to the Priestess, dressed in fine apparel with very few adornments aside from those depicting her royal stature.

Thoth: Crowley persists with this passive-pigeon interpretation linking her to the alchemical element of Salt and extolling her as the *inactive principle in Nature* which only speaks to his habitual misogyny and relative ignorance with respect to the actual workings of Nature.

Mutational Alchemy: Fortunately, the hexagrams have more to say regarding the Empress. Indeed, we do get Hexagram #55 (Abundance) in the Earth corner but most telling of all is Hexagram #59 (Dissolution, Dispersion) in the position of Fire! Balancing this we get Hexagram #60 (Limitation) in Air…thus revealing a hidden Lawgiver/Warrior aspect of the Empress roughly anticipated in the East but stupidly denied her in the West.

Upon her royal shield she carries the emblem of the Fire-Phoenix which bears the mathematical symmetry of the Tetractys TwinStar: begrudgingly acknowledged but never clearly apprehended in Western Mystery traditions until Mutational Alchemy.

If we consider that her Reciprocal Inverse is the Hermit card, we may be able to better appreciate that her true strengths have been mysteriously *cloaked* until such time as these attributions might finally be revealed to the persistent.

Accordingly, we have dispensed with her *Queen Jane* façade and opted instead for an image of Tiamat herself as is more befitting her actual positioning in the Tree of Life in this immediate timeframe. In doing this we are retaining her *salt* principle intact, since Tiamat is representative of *bitter waters* (e.g., saltwater) in Sumerian cosmology.

Stemming directly off of Binah, called *the Great Black Mother* in the East, we should prefer to be among the very last of all conceivable buffoons to miscategorize her as a *passive* anything!

Where the helpless wailing, bovine Isis may have played some essential role in bygone eras, it is even more essential that we move on from that failed standard of corruptible and inept nobility approaching future.

Where it is true that the Queen of Heaven nurtures all manifest sentiency, there is no sustainable justification for regarding this as some sort of inherent docility on her part.

Our failure to apprehend the more proactive aspects of the Empress is equaled only by our failure to apprehend the more proactive aspects of the Emperor, the combination of which has left us with a broken standard of sovereignity both esoterically and exoterically.

Finally the Hebrew phrase to the Intelligence of *Luminous* of this card’s ruling pentagram corresponds to a blessing, repeated several times through the steps of creation. So it is assumed naturally that mothers and female rulers are a kind of blessing.

The Scene: A bejeweled fusion of Tiamat, Venus and Parvati is depicted here in this allegorical piece.

Eros nurses at her breast while the unnamed archetypal god of war and vengeance, practices crushing universes in his fist as a child of darkness. The triune serpent (symbol of the energized force of Ananta) glows above this child, indicating him as a Crown Prince of the highest order. A normal human girl child is clutched in the Empress’s tail, indicating the potential of macrocosmic nature to flow down to the lowest particle of matter. She carries the alchemical twin phoenix standard that the Emperor also carries as his shield crest. This is recognized in Mutational Alchemy as an organic representation of the TwinStar principle.  In some Tarot decks, the phoenix is treated as a messenger that acts as a communication line between the Empress and the Emperor, as they conduct the business of heaven and earth.

Mount Kailash, the abode of Maha Siva and Parvati (“Daughter of the Mountain”) is seen in the background. Crowley misidentifies her as the “Daughter of Zeus”, yet the Empress is as dissimilar to Zeus as the Titans would be. Turning to Sumerian mythology, we find that “chaos monsters” like Tiamat can be “killed” repeatedly, but they can never actually die.  They are primordial fountains of life, even if dangerous and unpredictable to the more murderous soldier/merchant classes who betray their own inherent royalty along with hers. Tiamat is nurturing and capable, fiercely protective and warlike, when the matter turns to the protection of her realm. As nurturant mother she is responsible for saving the gods (her children) from Abzu’s wrath in the creation mythos, but is also the instrument of their punishment when they plot to murder Abzu.

She also represents Bhuvaneshwari in east-Indian traditions, the fourth Mahavidya whose bija is “Hrim”. She is the creator of good and the destroyer of evil. She is considered the mother of Lakshmi, Kali, Saraswati and Gayatri. She embodies the physical cosmos itself. The flowers at her feet carry a host of meanings. Flax, a very pretty blue flowering plant used to produce linen, representing the domestic sphere; the orchid, a symbol of many children, snapdragons, called “the gracious lady” also representing strength, moss, representing charity, and lungwort, from the Victorian era equivalent to saying (in the giving of it) “thou art my life”.