The Empress represents sex, motherhood, and love. She represents passion. Where The High Priestess is intuition, The Empress is emotion. She is a nurturing and creative force, and can also represent Mother Nature.
The Empress represents an important point of growth on the Fool’s Journey. As the third card, 1 (The Magician) + 2 (The High Priestess) = 3, which can stand for synthesis or harmony between (active) creation and (inactive) intuition. Where The High Priestess occupied her inner being, The Empress experiences the world sensually through passion and emotion. Three is also the number of dimensions that humans experience in our comprehensible reality.
In the Efflorescent Tarot, The Empress’s crown is made up of five-point stars. In the traditional RWS card, the stars are six-pointed, symbolizing the combination of the symbols for air (The Magician) and water (The High Priestess). Her shield is painted with a human heart, her necklace holds the sign of Venus, and her dress is red: all symbols of passion. The water flowing beside her and pooling at her feet symbolizes change and stability as one: the river is always moving, but it is always the same river.
A shadow of The Empress would be failing or refusing to see necessary facts, being overindulgent, being overprotective, or caring for others at one’s own detriment. The opposite / reversal would be failing or refusing to surrender to passion or not providing sufficient care for the proverbial seeds one has planted (projects, relationships, goals).
If I were to assign an element to The Empress, it would be earth and fire. She enjoys earthly pleasures with passion and is a creative force.
So far, this is the toughest card for me to reflect on since I tend to have such a tight control over my passions. With an air-heavy personality, compared to The Empress she represents a lot of things that I am not, or that I have not let myself be. The Empress might say to me, “Feel, touch, create! Let your passions loose and see where they take you. Life is pleasure, nurture yourself.”