The Emperor, is the major symbol of Path 15, Heh, on the Kaballah Tree of Life. Each path on the Tree is associated with one of the 22 Major Arcana cards or Keys, and named for one of the 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet. They have a description detailed in the Book of Formation, for Heh this is the constituting intelligence, as it constitutes the substance of creation in pure darkness. Constituting is to make anything what it is, to frame or compose it. This can connect to authorship, and to produce, originate, invent, found, beget, build, generate, or be the architect of something. This relates closely to paternity, becoming the father or head and founder of the family.
Heh is used in Hebrew in the same way as we use “the”, so it is the defining consciousness, which makes it self-conscious mental activity, thus it is also about definition, limits, setting boundaries, specializing, particularizing, making distinctions and entering into detail. This is what happens when we form a constitution for a society, we make the laws it will be governed by. So Heh implies regulation, law and order. This is also what we do when forming perceptions in our sub-conscious, we constitute suggestions from our experiences, which we then accept as fact. In a sense we make our own laws.
Heh literally means a wind door or window. A window admits light or knowledge and air which gives our life breath or spirit within our personality. It permits us to see, supervise and control what is going on outside our domain or house (Path 12, Beit, the Magician). We can see who is approaching and decide whether it is safe to admit them or whether to bar the door against enemies. It gives us transparency. However as all of God’s limitless light is available to see at Chochmah, it also enables us to let in as much as we feel we can safely deal with, so it keeps us safe from the intuition and other things we are not ready to deal with yet from our unconscious. The sense function of “sight” is attributed to Heh. This brings us the tools to enable our constitution accurately through vision, inspection, reconnaissance, watchfulness, care, vigilance, examination, calculation, analysis, inquiry and investigation. This can also refer to clairvoyance, sight beyond the normal range of human perception. The ability and willingness to see your options in life are well worth cultivating. The Emperor represents the frontal lobes of the brain where thinking, reasoning and analysis take place. This enables us to see clearly and puts us apart from lesser beings. Key IV implies mastery of the material world or all that we can see.
There are twelve simple or single letters in the Hebrew alphabet, they have just one pronunciation and meaning. They have been allocated to the twelve zodiac signs and Heh is the first journeying down the Tree, so corresponds to Aries the Ram or Mountain Goat. This fiery sign corresponds to the head and is ruled by Mars so has significance with courage, force, war, activity, strength and energy. Mars also rules iron, steel, surgery, chemistry and military affairs. The Sun exalted in Aries brings added fire along with, health, vitality, significance of high office, honor, rulership and rank, but ego and arrogance when overused. Aries is a scientific and philosophical sign also connected with government and leadership.
The Emperor sits on a grey throne representing authority and paternity, the head of government, authority, leadership, the power to set war in place and source of war. We see ram’s heads on the back and arms of his throne to represent Aries. The orange sky and red forbidding rocky cliffs are resonant with the Sun and Mars and the sterility of regulation without something warm and fruitful to set to order. However, the water of consciousness does flow at the base of the cliff. His red tunic and orb speak of regal power, he holds an Egyptian ankh, the symbol of long life and life beyond death. He has a gold crown from the Sun, with twelve segments similar to the twelve stars on the headdress of the Empress, representing the Zodiac.
Lives become more fertile when we let in a little light, moonlight is best as it leaves the ego behind. If we become a broken vessel then we will not be strong enough to hold the light. It is a teacher’s responsibility to break the light down into smaller pieces for us to understand. Like as a child we have to learn to crawl before we can walk. If we enter the letter Heh from the left hand side, we can see the window that lets in the light. Then we shine, give off the light to others by our actions and our deeds. If we try to keep it all for ourselves then we break the divine connection. It is our duty to shine. Others won’t agree with the path we take, the demon is our doubts and fears. We need to focus, practice being determined, release of forms of self-doubt. The Paths that cross the abyss present great challenges, Path 15 has a shaky bridge, Path 16 has high winds, Path 17 requires us to balance on the swords edge and Path 18 requires much courage. Three Angels support us on our journey, Michael, Raphael and Gabriel, they are illustrated in Key VI The Lovers, Key XIV Temperance and Key XX Judgement.