The Power of Structure

In the spirit of meditating on cards I don’t enjoy much, here’s the coup de grace for my feminist self:

I don’t appreciate a rigid patriarch, but I do appreciate the deeper symbolism behind the Emperor. Rachel Pollack and Mary K. Greer have encouraged me to re-conceptualize this card as an imperfect or at the very least, culturally loaded image for abstract ideas like structure, form, and power.

The Emperor is a card that corresponds with my birthday, and Mary K. Greer suggests all the nicest things about this card that I want to explore. This stiff figure is watchful and perceptive, sharp as a tack and hawk-like with the speed and tenacity in observing the world. He reminds us to expose the foundations or beginnings of ideas and concepts, and trace their evolution with special attention to the power they claim and manipulate. It’s important to understand how ideas and beliefs have relationships with the people involved, other ideas/beliefs, and the structures of human perception that dictate their application.

This card is all about understanding the creative power the Empress springs forth, and applying the judgment necessary when your beliefs interact with society and tradition (The Hierophant). Our own personal power can easily spin out of control, or become easily manipulated by others, without the self-reflection and observation this card commands. The Emporer is a pivotal step between creation and application; one must understand and consider the power in their hands before it’s dispersed again, flowing from the hands with a cool control that can empower the individual in question to be effective and autonomous. The self-directed life, from the self-possessed being, is the beautiful outcome of embracing this card.

I’ve recently discovered this card is the best symbol for the driving force behind my dietary choices. I’ve been vegan for almost 9 months, and it’s reaped many rewards for me in health, a clear conscience when it comes to animals traditionally raised for food, and my own impact on my environment. I think the best lesson I’ve learned, though, it to understand my own power as an individual who has the power to craft her own principles with careful thought, and implement them in her own life with passion, direction, and strength. I am an engineer of standards that are meaningful and powerful to me; I see this as a positive and awesome aspect of my own personal development.

Being a die-hard feminist, my own cultural baggage had previously prevented me from seeing this card own its own terms. The anarchist in me also shied away from conversations of structure and hierarchy, although Peggy Kornegger gave me a healthful dose of critical talk to get past that block. I am grateful for moments of clarity and insight that make the whole 78 cards relevant to my life, not just the cherry picked ones from my own prejudice.


~ by cuteredhood on August 11, 2010.

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