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3 The Empress (Dong Quai)


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Today I continue into the herbal tarot with The Empress.


3 The Empress

In this card, we see the pregnant empress dressed in yellow with a neckline of blue.  She is seated on a rock admit a forest of fir trees, staring straight at us with a stern expression on her face.  To her right, the small stream flows down a small waterfall in a pool and continues off the card.  In one hand she

holds a sceptre and on her head is a crown of twelve stars representing the Zodiac signs and the expressions life that they signify.  Beside her is the astrological sign for Venus while in front of her grows the beautiful herb of Dong Quai.


The Empress can represent many things!  The yellow of her gown and where she is seated indicates her understanding and intelligence of nature.  Her pregnancy indicates her fertility both literally and mentally - she is 'pregnant' with ideas.  The blue stream behind her and the blue of her neckline shows her intuitive side and her link to the High Priestess.  The symbol of Venus indicates her femininity, beauty, harmony and love.  She seeks the fulfilment from pleasures and her hearts desires.  Her sceptre indicates her ability to rule wisely and compassionately.  In this deck, she is like Mother Nature herself!


Dong Quai

Family Name: Umbelliferae

Botanical Name(s): Angelica Sinensis


This herb is also known as Angelica, which can be confused with herb found on The Sun card.  Appropriately for the setting of the Empress, this herb is generally found in damp areas - riverbanks, damp meadows and well-watered mountain ravines.  In general only the roots are used.  In the companion book it is called the Herb of Femininity which is exactly how I see the Empress - the picture of feminine beauty.  Appropriately, it is used in Chinese medicine for the treatment of many ailments which are very female in their nature - anaemia, regulating the menstrual cycle and helping to correct PMS, aiding fertility and also to help women through the menopause.  Spiritually it can help to build up the yin, creative energy within us and help to become 'pregnant with ideas' as the companion book puts it!


I feel very much in touch with this card at the moment as I work through a period of my life where I wish to embody the qualities of The Empress.  She feels like a 'guide' to me at this moment and I think will continue to do so while I continue to work towards attaining my desire of being a mother.

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Dong Quai is a very common herb in TCM formulas, and yes women's formulas also. Furthermore, Dong Quai is warming (yang) in nature, and enters through the liver and heart. In China it is called "The Empress of Herbs'.

The heart's obvious physiological functions aside, it also houses the shen (spirit), and is connected to the emotion of joy. Dong Quai also works in the liver, which is considered the hearts 'mother'. The heart has strong links with the kidneys, which is attributed to 'jing' or life force. Isn't it interesting that when someone has serious heart issues, it is often accompanied by edema (a kidney deficiency). The heart struggles to move the qi, and Dong Quai stimulates that movement, detoxifies the blood. and may help to build it in that sense. Although Dong Quai is a yang herb, it helps to build yin indirectly (as suggested in the companion book). As a classic 'blood building' herb, it helps to nourish and therefore increase the quality of the blood. The heart's relationship to the uterus and kidneys plays a role in fertility, and other women's issues. But can also be used in some male fertility cases, and for other unrelated issues.

I think the shen and jing relationship with Dong Quai could be the link here that helps creative energy and ideas mentioned in the companion book, as well as the obvious links to assisting female issues. It is nice that a yang herb be indicated for a card with a lot of female energy, however I suppose it makes sense that it could as you can't have one without the other. Perhaps it is less important that the nature is matched than the purpose? 

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