The card on the left is from the most well-known and often used decks in the world of tarot called the Rider-Waite. I’ll be using the images and traditional meanings from this deck to discuss tarot in the Learn Tarot with Harry Potter series. The artwork of Molly Weasley belongs to Anna Daviscourt.
Traditional Meaning of The Empress
The Empress is a beautiful card in the Rider-Waite deck, and indeed, she is representative of a beautiful female figure. In this card, the Empress is sitting on a luxurious cushion made of deep, vibrant red material. She is clothed in a loose-fitting gown with a pomegranate design, denoting fertility, death, and rebirth (tied to the myth of Persephone and Demeter). Underneath the gown, it can be inferred that she is pregnant, reinforcing the fertility theme. She is surrounded by abundance, represented by the many trees behind her, the flowing river to her side, and the wheat at her feet. She wears a crown and holds a scepter indicating her authority in her domain, and a necklace of seven pearls, which stand for wisdom and possibly even the seven chakras. The card’s colors also have meaning. Yellows, oranges, reds, and bright greens dominate, symbolizing the earthly, sunny, and fertile aspects of the Empress.
The Empress is the mother card in the tarot deck. She is nurturing, earthly, and secure. The Empress, in her abundant garden, shows us beauty, sensuality, love, fertility, and harmony. She denotes unconditional motherly love and the kind of resourcefulness that comes with being responsible for all her earthly children. She can also speak to domestic harmony, a happy partnership, and a deep level of emotional support. The Empress tells us that we are loved, we are cared for, and that she, as the divine Goddess, provides us with resources when we seek them out. She asks us to respect her creations on Earth, nurture ourselves, and recognize and add to abundance whenever we can. Usually, she is paired with the Emperor card, and together they form the traditional family unit with equal masculine and feminine energies.
Molly Weasley as The Empress
In the Harry Potter books, the character who best represents this card is Molly Weasley. When we meet her, she is dropping off several of her children at King’s Cross station. Harry approaches her and asks how to get to Platform 9 3/4, and Molly gently tells him what to do. This first meeting demonstrates Molly’s nurturing quality, and foreshadows how much of a mother figure she will play in Harry’s life as the books continue.
Molly is the birth mother to seven children: Bill, Charlie, Percy, Fred, George, Ron, and Ginny. She has devoted her life to raising her kids and creating a comfortable, loving, and happy home for them. She married her husband, Arthur Weasley, just out of Hogwarts, and they seem to have a very happy marriage, still filled with affection and sensuality. She is often seen taking care of her home, the Burrow, cleaning and doing other chores to keep up the household. The garden at the Burrow is featured a few times in the series, and is one of the only instances of a garden playing a role of importance in the books. Molly and all of her children have the characteristic Weasley hair, a bright red-orange like a flame, which is kind of their trademark in the wizarding world. Molly is fiercely protective of her home and her children. She seems to be the one running the household most of the time, and when any of her children are threatened, she shows her magickal skills and passionate nature.
The connections between Molly and the Empress card are numerous. Molly’s red hair mimics the oranges and reds on the Empress card. At home she is surrounded by more reds and oranges, and also green in the form of Harry’s eyes. Like the Empress, Molly lives in a home of abundance and happiness. They aren’t rich, but the atmosphere their loves creates makes the Burrow one of the happiest places in the books. It is comfortable and one can almost imagine the Empress’s cushions on the Weasley’s couches (albeit maybe a little more tattered). Molly is resourceful like the Empress, always making sure her children have what they need, even if it isn’t the best quality or newest model. She has a loving, fairly equal marriage with Arthur (The Emperor), full of physical connection and emotional intimacy.
The garden at the Weasley’s home mimics the garden of the Empress. It is one of the only significant gardens mentioned in the books and it plays host to not only the hilarious de-gnoming incident, but also Bill and Fleur’s wedding. Molly is fiercely protective of her home, which she ‘rules’ most of the time, but of her children as well. In fact, we can also see a tie-in with the myth of Demeter and Persephone in this aspect. Just as Demeter deals with trying to protect her daughter from Hades, Molly has to protect her only daughter from both Voldemort as Tom Riddle’s diary (in Chamber of Secrets) and Bellatrix (Deathly Hallows). Molly is a very earthly presence in the books, usually offering support, advice, or a good talking-to to one of her children (and Harry). She really takes the time to include Harry in her family, inviting him to her home for various events and getting him gifts for Christmas. One small, but interesting correlation is the pearl necklace on the Empress. It holds seven pearls, one for each of Molly’s seven children. Molly truly is an empress in her domestic domain, and mimics the Empress card in the tarot.
When we look at the illustration of Molly above we see many similarities to the Empress card. She is hugging Harry, a nod to fertility and motherhood. Food hovers around her, reinforcing the ideas of home, security, abundance, and comfort. The warm oranges and browns remind us of the colors in the Empress card, and on her head are a few star hair clips, a (unintentional) nod to the stars on the Empress’s crown.
How Molly as The Empress Helps Us Read Tarot
Molly as the Empress helps us read tarot because as we consider how welcoming, warm, and motherly she is, we can think about these elements and people in our own life. Let’s look at a few questions about Molly from the books. They are asked with Molly’s character and the Empress card’s themes in mind:
- Where do you see the themes of abundance and fertility in Molly’s life?
- How does Molly show emotional support for her children (including Harry)?
- How would you describe the relationship between Molly and Arthur?
- How do you think Molly manages to provide the necessities for her children when its obvious the family struggles with money?
- Molly is mothering, but not necessarily coddling. How does she encourage responsibility and gratefulness in her children?
- Molly nurtures others all the time, but how does Molly find time/resources to nurture herself?
How We Can Ask These Same Questions of Ourselves
As we ponder the above questions about Molly Weasley, we can turn these questions towards ourselves. This is helpful as a fun way to self-reflect, but more importantly, if we contemplate these questions, we can tie them into any tarot reading where the Empress comes up. Whether is for yourself or a querent, think about these questions when the Empress shows her form in a reading:
- Where do you see the themes of abundance and fertility in your life? (Fertility can relate to creativity, ‘birthing’ a talent or project, or growing something)
- Where might you need to find a source of emotional support at this time? Where might you need to show emotional support to someone else?
- What kind of relationships do you have in your life? Are they balanced and nurturing? If not, how could you move towards a relationship like this?
- How do you use the resources in your life – meaning, are you using them wisely and gratefully? Are you making the most of what you’ve been given?
- What traits/behaviors did you learn from your own mother figure? Were they ‘good’ or ‘bad’? If you are a mother, what traits of the Empress and Molly would you like to emulate?
- How do you show the traits of independence and responsibility? Do you encourage yourself or do you like to be encouraged by others?
- How can you nurture yourself when you need it?
This post should get your started thinking about the Empress, Molly’s character, and the themes of nurturing, abundance, and fertility in your life. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, I’d love to hear any observations you have from the stories or in how this helped you read the Empress card in tarot!
Next week we will explore Arthur Weasley as card number IV, The Emperor.
Listen to the podcast episode of Molly as The Empress :