• Lelia

The Empress Tarot Card, Roses and Life Force Energy


The Empress, or Green Woman, in the Wildwood Tarot deck.


I pulled the Empress card in tarot today and thought of the Dylan Thomas line “the force that through the green fuse drives the flower drives my green age.” That’s especially fitting for the Empress card in the Wildwood Tarot deck - my favorite empress card in any of the decks I have. In other decks, the Empress looks so static, but in this card she’s an active channel of life force energy. It reminds me of a wonderful anecdote in Longing for Darkness by China Galland:


“A climber rose growing outside my window this past winter forced its way through a crack, pushed open the window, and began to grow inside the room, toward my altar. Respectful of such boldness in a flower, I let it grow. Wild tenacity. The strength of a rose, determined to bloom, beyond reason.”

Which leads me, stream of consciousness style, to D. H. Lawrence’s uncollected poem “Roses,”


Nature responds so beautifully.

Roses are only once-wild roses, that were given an extra chance,

so they bloomed out and filled themselves with colored fullness

Out of sheer desire to be splendid, and more splendid.


That poem is included in Harold Bloom’s Genius. As an aside, whenever I flip to it I find again a piece of paper slipped into the book containing a poem my youngest daughter wrote when she was almost 6. As a fond mother I am charmed every time I reread it:


Roses by a waterfall I saw

I picked them and I went home

My mom thought to put them in the garden

And they grew beautifuller and beautifuller every single day.


I think the empress is that splendiferous urge to unfold. I love how the Wildwood card has the Sheela na gig image on the cauldron. It is, to me, such an empowered symbol of female generativity. Every human that has ever lived has passed through that gate. When we participate in that generative urge, when we let that life force energy move through us, we are vitalizing and vitalized, creating and created.

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