Yeah. I needed the title in all-caps. Because I’m screaming at the top of my lungs and yanking at my own hair.


For an irrational woo answer to that, I might say maybe it’s because our global collective culture is moving away from dominant-masculinity, and as a feminist I’m certainly not going to cry a river over that shift, but it does mean I’m really, really struggling with tapping in to that masculine energy.

Anyway, let’s walk through my challenging journey with illustrating The Emperor card.

Above left is the 2018 Emperor card in the First Edition deck; on the right is the 2019 Emperor card in the Vitruvian Edition.

Actually, I really like my Vitruvian version of The Emperor.

I saw the above while visiting a castle in Prague. I took a photo knowing I wanted to use that armor as inspiration for my SKT Emperor redesign.

In the last progress update, I shared a rejected rendering of Key 4: The Emperor. I was envisioning a bad ass eagle head emperor but ended up with the minor penguin character from Happy Feet the movie. Oops.

So I tried again.

For the new Emperor, I took inspiration from the Ottoman sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent. Suleiman is a variation of the name Solomon, which I thought was particularly poignant, given the Solomonic magical influences in the deck.

I’ve spent about a week reading as many biographies as I could and watching documentaries on Suleiman. There was even this popular drama series in Turkey on Suleiman, and I watched that, too.

I’m placing my rendering of The Emperor card, inspired by Suleiman the Magnificent, next to my Empress card. I might go back and add a pelican in the foreground of the Empress card, btw. So everything you see in these blog posts are works-in-progress.

James still doesn’t like my Emperor card and I see his point. This version of The Emperor is still missing something. It’s missing oomph. Like, compare the oomph in what’s still just a working draft of The Empress with the lack of oomph in her counterpart, The Emperor.

Compare a work-in-progress of the Vitruvian Emperor (left) with what I just finished drawing (right).

Everyone I’ve asked prefers the left Vitruvian version, though that’s not even to say it’s good. It’s just to say that comparatively speaking, it’s better. The recent doodle on the right is… blah. I mean the good news is it’s no longer the penguin from Happy Feet but at least the penguin from Happy Feet version had personality. Is it the eyes? I think those eyes look dead. Why am I so bad at drawing eyes. Aargh. Or it’s his posture. That’s a very RWS Four of Pentacles posture. Why doesn’t he look… I don’t know… I just know that I’m not there yet.

Here’s the problem with keeping with the old Vitruvian version of The Emperor. He no longer matches my new, updated Empress. See what I mean in the above side by side? These two are not a compatible pairing.

I’m open to hearing any ideas you want to volunteer, by the way.

So I think right now I need more time immersed in The Emperor and I need to work harder at tapping in to and channeling these masculine energies. I have no idea how I’m going to do that… watch all the Die Hard and Rocky movies back to back? I don’t know. I just don’t know.


Oh, wait. That’s probably not very manly of me to do, cry. Wait, I can’t say that. Toxic masculinity. Wait. *head to desk*


Tarot By Benebell Wen Source

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