A gown decorated with pomegranates, a crown of stars, a rod, a heart-shaped shield with the symbol for Venus, a field of ripe wheat.
Basic Tarot Story
Having decided what shape his future will take, the Fool strides forward. But he is impatient to make his future a full-grown reality. This is when he comes upon the Empress. Hair gold as wheat, a crown of stars, a white gown dotted with pomegranates. She rests back on her throne surrounded by an abundance of grain and a lush garden. It is possible that she is pregnant.*
Kneeling, the Fool relates to her his story. And she, in turn, smiles a motherly smile and gently gives him this advice: "Like newly planted grain or a child in the womb, a new life, a new love, a new creation is fragile. It requires fertile soil, patience and nurturing, it needs love and attention. Only this will bring it to fruition." Understanding at last that his future will take time to build and create, the Fool thanks the Empress and continues on his way.
* Pregnant. Well, not in the Rider-Waite deck she isn't. But she is in early decks, and it is an apt symbol for this card.
Basic Tarot Meaning
The Empress is a creator, be it creation of life, of romance, of art or business. While the Magician is the primal spark, the idea made real, and the High Priestess is the one who gives the idea a form, the Empress is the womb where it gestates and grows till it is ready to be born. This is why her symbol is Venus, goddess of beautiful things as well as love. Even so, the Empress is more Demeter, goddess of abundance, then sensual Venus. She is the giver of Earthly gifts, yet at the same time, she can, in anger withhold, as Demeter did when her daughter, Persephone, was kidnapped. In fury and grief, she kept the Earth barren till her child was returned to her.
The Empress card is one of the easier trumps to read. She's Mother. Generally, Mother in a good sense. Patient, loving, giving, generous. If defining her as the Querent, you can say that they are currently feeling like a mother hen, worried about their children, new business, new creation, new romance. Male or female, they want to dote and hover and fret over every little sneeze and problem. If defining the Empress as someone related to the Querent, well, it might well be the Querent's Mom, or a woman who's very motherly toward them.
Of course, the Empress can also be the worst aspects of an attentive Mom; she can smother, not know when to let go, be possessive and jealous of those who would take away her "baby." It is important for the Querent to realize that plants can die from over-watering as easily as neglect.
This card tells the Querent that if they want their new romance, new career, new business, new creation to grow into all it can be they have to pay attention to it, baby it and be willing to let it take those first steps when it is ready. Most of all, like any pregnant mother or good gardener, they have to be patient. All things need time to gestate and sprout.