The Emperor is an independent free thinker who's done with taking orders from above and has embarked on a mission to live his life on his own terms. He's bold, decisive and he knows his own mind. He won't take bullshit. He won't be tied down, manipulated or made into a puppet for someone else's agenda. He wants to live life in a way that makes sense for him and he wants to display his strength through making things happen, moving and shaking, building something of his own design. This card is about striking out. It's about being assertive and testing the limits. It asks you to look at what's holding you back and what you can possibly do to change that, to win more freedom and to take more for yourself.
There's a clear warning element held within the message too. The card advises against domineering behaviour. It reminds you to remain open to other points of view and to step on as few toes as possible on your way to the finishing line. The Emperor can be recalcitrant, closed, dismissive of other perspectives or unpleasant due to an overwhelming desire for control. These traits are understandable when someone gets to a breaking point and decides that enough is enough. It can be easy to slip into a dominant role, but it's important to be able to see yourself doing that and stop it before it gets out of hand. Pushing away the outside influences that constrict you is quite a different thing to pushing away sound advice and genuine love. Keep positive people in your life. Don't keep them at arm's length just because they may disagree with you.
Under this influence it's important to challenge oppression, speak plainly and be transparent in your dealings with others. Taking the higher road is essential if you want to improve your life and shake off the chains that are keeping you down. Lowering yourself to the level of your oppressor isn't going to help you find happiness. Tough love is often portrayed here too. What do you need to say to the people in your life who seem to be hindering you in your attempts to make a break for it? Could you potentially help someone by telling it like it is for once rather than sugar-coating the pill?
A lot of the time this card offers up the imagery of leadership and mobilisation. It's probably suggesting that action can now be taken which will lead to beneficial results for all involved. But you need to make sure you keep your feet on the ground. Don't seek to win by becoming the kind of person you always used to resent and fear when you were at the bottom of the pile.