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The Empress by Anna Shaw

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The Empress

I was initially inspired by the way Carl Jung used the Tarot to get his subjects to explore their own subconscious selves, through the universal archetypes represented by each card.

At the same time, I had become aware that repeatedly we are bombarded with photo montages of women that are perpetuate the romanticised fantasy of dreamy, pure, young girls, and I began to wonder what this does for our inner psyches.

I know that there is much more to us that that, so this deck is my attempt to explore different aspects of the female psyche using the archetypes inherent in the Tarot as tools. It is to be a celebration of the complexity of women everywhere.

The Empress

On your journey to self-fulfillment, you come across The Empress. The Empress is the archetypal mother figure. In old tarot decks she was displayed as pregnant, Traditionally she is dressed in white with pomegranates over the dress. She would wear a crown of stars.

She is a creator, be that the 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.

She is the giver of Earthly gifts, yet at the same time, she can, in anger withhold her love, 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 shows you how you need to nurture and work at your dreams over time, to bring them to reality.

Here she is setting free the bird, who had spent so long in a cage of self-doubt, that it was frightened to fly.

On 5/7/10 The Empress has had 829 views, 57 Favourites and 231 comments.

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It is quite incredible that when I am creating these images, a particular song, or a verse of a song keeps popping into my head. This time it was Whitney Houston singing “Greatest Love of All”.

I believe the children are our are future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be
Everybody searching for a hero
People need someone to look up to
I never found anyone who fulfilled my needs
A lonely place to be
So I learned to depend on me


I created this in CS4.

I struggled a bit with it as I found myself trying to repeat the traditional symbolism, and feeling that this was all becoming too soft and fuzzy. Then I realised that being gentle and giving is part of our personality too, and as long as it is not the only way we are portrayed, it is OK. All the female characters in the Tarot are much less complex than the males, so I guess I have to run with that.

I chose the amazing background as it had shapes that were reminiscent of the womb.

I am trying to use the same model in all the cards as I think she is so strong, so powerful and yet so feminine at the same time. I love the idea that we can find all the different facets of our personality in one woman.

This one was tricky though as I had to make her pregnant (so to speak) . The real challenge was the birdcage which had to have the original bird removed, and then be rebuilt.

I am grateful to the following artists who made the following stock available.
Model – the wonderful mizzd stock
Background Texture
The wheat texture was from my own stock.

The others in this series are…
The Fool

The Magician

Anna and Robert have only recently moved to Kent, having spent six years living France where they first embarked on wedding photography. They are passionate about photography, and have a real love for shooting weddings, gaining so much pleasure and fun from these special days.

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  • missmoneypenny
    missmoneypennyabout 5 years ago

    Just stunning !

  • Thank you so much.

    – Anna Shaw

  • Rafferty-Evans
    Rafferty-Evansabout 5 years ago

    beautiful work! Striking colours

  • Thanks so much dear Lee-Anne. The background was such a gorgeous one. I so appreciate your lovely comment.

    – Anna Shaw

  • Richard Hamilton-Veal
    Richard Hamilt...about 5 years ago

    Awesome work Anna.

  • Thanks so much Richard. I am pleased with this one.

    – Anna Shaw

  • Tanya Newman
    Tanya Newmanabout 5 years ago

    Yet another masterpiece, love the colours :) x

  • What a lovely comment. Thank you so much.

    – Anna Shaw

  • diLuisa Photography
    diLuisa Photog...about 5 years ago

    yep……she is DEFINITELY the EMPRESS!! Great work, dear friend!! :)

  • You sweetie- thank you so much.

    – Anna Shaw

  • David's Photoshop
    David's Photoshopabout 5 years ago

    Just love this one Anna, the blend of the light background and the dark foreground colours work so well together and give the overall image such incredible impact.
    Another truly excellent piece of work towards your tarot set. Very well done.
    David xx

  • How lovely of you David. I will treasure that comment. I do appreciate so much, your support and encouragement.

    – Anna Shaw

  • ourjrny
    ourjrnyabout 5 years ago

    It is a beautiful work of art Anna :)))

  • Thanks so much Sharon, that is lovely to know you like it.

    – Anna Shaw

  • Kevin McGeeney
    Kevin McGeeneyabout 5 years ago

    very interesting and beautiful!!

  • Thank you for your lovely comment.

    – Anna Shaw

  • billfox256
    billfox256about 5 years ago

    “In young women were not deceived into a belief that affectation pleases, they would
    scarcely trouble themselves to practice it so much.”
    Maria Edgeworth, Writer

    A terrific piece!!!!, Bill

  • What a great and appropriate quote Bill. Thank you so much.

    – Anna Shaw

  • linaji
    linajiabout 5 years ago

    Darling Anna.. you know when I went to Kauai last year I took my brothers yoga class and met a woman who’s face was covered with deep wrinkles. I had never felt before such beauty from a woman. she was spri and she was in love with life. I did not see age nor did I feel fear. I felt good when I was around her and wondered to myself why I ever hated the thought of aging when I could emulate her spirit and to tell you the hearts truth… beauty.
    I appreciate this exploration of woman essence, cause no matter what age you are exploring here within your deck, it is the essence, the spirit that give life to this ‘matter’

  • Dear, dear friend. Your comment has touched me at my core. I now exactly what you mean, and wish too that I could have met your Spri. Sadly, there are hardly any stock images that celebrate age, – or indeed anything other than beautiful young women.

    – Anna Shaw

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