The Queens and the Emperor: The Power Behind the Throne?

Continuing my thoughts on the veiled connection between the court cards and the “higher court” represented by the “noble” trumps, I’m now looking at the Queens and the Emperor. The Queens are the thirteenth card in each suit, which number reduces numerologically to Four, the number of the Emperor. This suggests that they can act as a go-between for the Empress when she is “indisposed” toward dealing directly with the Emperor, carrying her messages in the way that handmaidens once did. Thirteen is also comprised of “1” and “3,” revealing that the Queens convey the Will (Magician) of the Empress. The Queens may also represent the “back-door” by which the Emperor leverages his control over the Kings, who are apt to hide behind their piety (Hierophant). But the Emperor shouldn’t trust them too far. Palace intrigue is not unknown to the Queens, and there can be something of the patient spider about them. They can move behind the scenes and make use of a network of shadowy accomplices to work their wiles on the male hierarchy. All they have to do is assure that their heads stay attached to their necks.


In recognizing that the number 13 also has unfortunate connotations through its association with Death, it may be that the Queens represent an “Achilles heel” for the Emperor, a blind spot or weakness where he expects to find only unconditional support. There is a good deal of interesting mythology surrounding the number, but this one (from stood out for me in this context:

“The symbolism of thirteen comes into play when we learn of Osiris (the Egyptian god of life, death and powerful solar symbol) was murdered by his brother Typhon. Isis, Osiris’ wife and sister collected his body with intent to restore Osiris back to life.

However, Typhon stole Osiris’ body and cut it into fourteen pieces and scattered them about the earth. Isis continued her quest to revive her beloved, but could only reclaim thirteen of the fourteen body parts (the fourteenth part being Osiris’ penis which interestingly fell into the Nile and was eaten by a school of fish which are also symbolic).”

From this we might deduce that the Queen can secretly siphon off the Emperor’s creative potency, or virility, by purloining that magical “fourteenth piece.” Lesser men have certainly been overmastered by a sly and subtle squeeze in just the right place. She may even be taking her cue from Hamlet:

“For ’tis the sport to have the engineer

Hoist with his own petard.”

Letting her into his confidence may invite manipulation and ultimately, emasculation. It reminds me of the old Rolling Stones song, The Spider and the Fly, with its cautionary line “Jump right ahead and you’re dead.”

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