Tarot card of the Week - (Piedmontese tarot deck, F. F. Solesio, 1865: The Emperor.
Hello everyone. I’m Tony Olliver, Endorsed Professional Tarot Reader & Mentor, Tarot Association of the British Isles.
I’m writing a series of short articles during 2017, which will focus on my understanding of each Tarot card within the Major and Minor Arcana of diverse Tarot decks that have been in print during the last 500 Years or so. I will then compare the imagery of the Universal Waite deck from the 1990’s to the pre-modern Tarot deck’ cards which I have researched.
In particular, I will be focusing on the late middle ages and post-classical era, which relates to Tarot imagery and comparative symbolic associations. Despite the passing of time, each image can potentially reflect important findings to anyone who is privy to that card.
Each Tarot card can produce a vast amount of detail that centres around symbolism, astrology, numerology. Kabballah, psychology and esoteric mysticism. Each card has its own unique charm.
Nonetheless, when the singular card is linked to all other Tarot cards on the table, I see a matrix of messages that can offer a strong associating connection between all cards. With the bigger picture to hand, this is how I read for clients in private and public places.
I aim to post one or two cards each Week. Your input is welcomed and any cards that you have researched, please feel free to share in this group, and anything you can add to the study would benefit us all.
It would be interesting to see that as Tarot Readers we are able to attain the same meaning or even a different meaning from the respective card, as we start comparing the modern / pre-modern cards.
Tony Olliver, Endorsed Professional Tarot Reader & Mentor
Tarot Association of the British Isles
(Piedmontese tarot deck, F. F. Solesio, 1865: L’Imperatore (the Emperor). This work has been identified as being free of known restrictions under copyright law, including all related and neighbouring rights. ( Wikimedia Commons).
Universal Waite connection – Arcanum 4, affinity to Aries.
The card resembles the Tarot de Marseille in so many ways and can be traced the Lyon area of France. It has Italian inscriptions from the mid-19th century.
Unlike the Emperor of the modern Universal Waite deck, L’Imperatore can be identified by the numerals (roman) and of course, L’Imperatore (the Emperor) has a caption at the base.
One striking feature of Solesio’s work is the positioning of the Emperor within the card, compared to the Universal Waite card. He sits on his thrown looking away from the observer with the sceptre being held with the left hand. The Universal Card’s Emperor holds the sceptre with his right hand.
In a strange twist of incongruity, the Universal Card’s Emperor is fierce compared to the Piedmontese card, for one reason that is striking for me; Note that generally speaking, most people shake hands with their right hand and note how the Universal Card’s Emperor does not allow the handshake of friendship to present itself whereas the Piedmontese grants the handshake of friendship
The Emperor of the modern Universal Waite deck sits sternly holding the sceptre in his right hand looking straight at the observer. You can sense that expressing any form of friendship in this setting is more challenging when compared to the Piedmontese. Add to this the background mountain scene that is absent from the Piedmontese deck, does suggest a character that is more likened.
Of course, I cannot discount the possibility that the relative crude nature of how artwork was adapted to publishing and printing of that era has had some effect on the overall design. On the other hand, the colour association is strikingly similar, with the colours green, red, yellow / gold all closely related within both images.
One colour is missing from the Universal Waite deck which is clearly seen on Solesio’s image of 1865 and that colour is blue. It can be seen in several places which includes the arms and legs area.
Having said that, we may have to consider that prior to 1850, the colour "blue" didn't exist in the way that we see it now, at least not in the way we think of it. From a colour association standpoint, it is interesting how the artist has linked the colour blue of 1850 to the features that the observer can be on familiar terms with. For example, the colour blue in this card can be symbolic of power, as one might expect with L’Imperatore.
On balance and if Solesio’s card appeared during one of my readings, the implied message would in all likelihood appear very similar to the Universal counterpart.
Both characters will never be your best friend. Both Emperors, when paralleled, project the persona of someone who defines his own rules, borders on hard-hitting behaviour and portrays an individual who tends to dominate many given situations.
This could be a man or a woman. On the international stage, L’Imperatore might be matched to Donald Trump and like Trump, L’Imperatore is no soft touch. As a reader, I demonstrate risk avoidance whenever I see this card. It is important that I discover the finest expressive words to share in the company of a client
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