The Empress, the Trinity, and the Motherhood Question

The Empress card is Venus, signifying beauty, mercy, abundance, and love. She is associated with deeply experienced emotion—often seemingly without rationale or reason—as well as sexuality and creativity generously and joyously inhabited.

The Empress is also the number 3 in the major arcana of the tarot, which recalls the Trinity, a concept present in spiritual, psychological, and philosophical traditions across time and around the world. The Trinity often represents stages, phases, levels, or roles in the human experience. Consider these examples of ways the number 3 crops up in our collective conscious:

  • The Maiden/Mother/Crone
  • Father/Son/Holy Spirit
  • Mother/Father/Child
  • body/mind/spirit
  • id/ego/superego
  • unconscious/subconscious/conscious

As the second card of the Divine Feminine in the tarot, The Empress symbolizes motherhood, sensuality, and emotion. And with the number 3 as considered above, she echoes the suggestion of creation, as in mother, father, and the child they produce; or as in the maiden progressing into the fullness of motherhood before dying back into her croning.

One of the lessons the tarot so deftly teaches is that we all experience every archetype at one time or another in our lives, although we do not experience them in the same ways. Regardless of gender, spiritual path, culture, or age, the archetypes themselves are universally present for all humans. The Empress is a really profound and poignant example of this point.

It is tempting to believe that she only represents motherhood—specifically, women who are pregnant or mothers. Yet, not all humans are woman-identifying. Not all women can physically become pregnant. Not all women choose to carry and birth children. At any given time, perhaps a fifth of the world’s population is actively engaged in pregnancy, lactating, and raising their birth children. What about the other four fifths of humanity? How does The Empress manifest in their lives?

Today, we understand The Empress in a much broader context, because we interpret the ideas of pregnancy, incubation, and nurturance differently. We are “pregnant with possibility;” we have “fertile” minds and fields; we “incubate” businesses; we “nurture” partnerships; and so on. In this spirit, we are invited to consider that The Empress can represent our involvement with art, projects, businesses, relationships, homes, gardens, families, associations, and any other entity that exists outside ourselves, purely because we made the effort and emotional investment to make them real.

The Empress’s presence is felt whenever we act with both love and wisdom; whenever we approach life with a trusting and balanced heart; and whenever we reconnect with nature and the joy of being alive. These are things that know no gender, no age, and no race. Therefore, she is present not just at every birth, but at every adoption, every grand opening, every graduation, and every marriage. She is the energy behind a flourishing garden, a beautiful meal, a warm and inviting home, a book finally written, and an idea whose time has come.