Authoritarian in Chief: What Tarot Birth Cards Can Teach Us About Trump (And Ourselves)

When I first started developing my own approach to understanding tarot birth cards, I used the birth data of a bunch of public figures to test what I like to call “tarot charts.” These charts allow me to plug in birthdates (and times, as available) and automagically see a person’s birth cards, as well as a lifetime of year cards. It’s the only reason I’ve ever willingly created a spreadsheet with multiple functions (and might be the last), but I’m pretty damn proud of it.

Because I’m interested in how the personal is political and vice versa, I decided to test my handy spreadsheet on notable political figures. I’m not going to go through the entire list here, but I will say this: It’s pretty incredible how accurately tarot archetypes tell the story of a person’s public persona and what they choose to do with their platform.

Which brings me to our current President [referred to as 45]. He was born on June 14, 1946 at 10:54AM [source], and has a hell of a lot of fire and air in his chart (just saying).

Using simple math, we arrive at the following archetypes:

  • Target, “Where I’m heading”: The Emperor*

  • Bow “What propels me”: The Emperor

  • Arrow “How I get there”: The Wheel of Fortune

  • Ecosystems: Trust (Target + Bow) and Will (Arrow)

*A quick note here: This number is actually 22, which would be considered The Fool for the purposes of a year card, but isn’t traditionally considered a birth card as it encompasses the opportunity to start anew and reinvent oneself-- traits that are understood as being common to all of us. Honestly? I haven’t quite decided what to do with this archetype yet as far as birth cards go, though I have included it in the past (if your Target number is 22, I’d love to get your thoughts). I’m using the more traditional approach here, but I think it’s worth acknowledging that the Emperor (4) is arrived at through The Fool archetype. Okay. Onward.

Before we break that down-- even if you don’t know ANYTHING about tarot-- I’ll bet you have some immediate reactions to seeing the archetypes of The Emperor and The Wheel of Fortune pop up there, right? Given what we know about the man and his mythos, these aren’t entirely surprising… But they sure are shocking to see laid out so plainly.


Collage by Sara


It’s worth reiterating that there’s no such thing as “bad” or undesirable birth cards. Even though some of the archetypes have names that can be a little scary sounding at first (Death, for example), the lessons and wisdom of each are usually far more complex than what the title might indicate. This is as true for The Emperor and The Wheel as it is for every other card.

You cannot discount the power of self-awareness when it comes to birth and year cards (even if one does not know what their specific cards are). If a person’s life revolves around upholding and maintaining their own ego and its unconscious habits, the ways their tarot archetypes manifest are going to show it.

Vanity and pride are what most of us tend to think of when we think of ego, but ego is much more than an overinflated sense of self. It can also turn up in feelings of inferiority or self-hatred because ego is any image you have of yourself that gives you a sense of identity—and that identity derives from the things you tell yourself and the things other people have been saying about you that you’ve decided to accept as truth.

One way to think about ego is as a protective heavy shell, such as the kind some animals have, like a big beetle. This protective shell works like armor to cut you off from other people and the outside world. What I mean by shell is a sense of separation: Here’s me and there’s the rest of the universe and other people. The ego likes to emphasize the “otherness” of others.
— Eckart Tolle

Tarot birth cards can help us gain an understanding of the awakened vs unconscious— or whole vs wounded— pieces of ourselves. Jung dubbed these wounded or unintegrated parts of Self the “shadow,” or the elements of self that are unconscious or repressed.

I’m no psychologist, so this isn’t meant to be diagnostic in any way, but it turns out that 45 is a great teacher for examining what it looks like when a person’s ego and their unconscious wounds rule the expression of their birth card archetypes. He is an excellent example of a person who is unwilling (or unable) to know himself well enough to recognize that a shadow even exists… Or if he did recognize it, it’s likely he’d say how it’s really a tremendous shadow, best one the world has ever seen. #fakenews

I want to focus here on 45’s relationship to The Emperor archetype. I will most definitely be examining The Wheel (and the rest of the archetypes) in the future, don’t you worry.

Whole and Wounded Characteristics of The Emperor

There are very good traits inherent in The Emperor archetype: Stability, order, truth, boundaries, logic, fatherly love, the divine masculine, personal authority, and use of power for the good of The Collective, to name a few. When we encounter this card in its wholeness— as a birth card, year card, or in a tarot reading— we can learn from the wisdom of structure, truth, and noble action. It can encourage us to foster healthy relationships with our masculinity.

The Emperor belongs in my Ecosystem of Trust, and in its integrated state it can truly be a beacon of reliability and responsible leadership. Oprah Winfrey is also a 22/4 Emperor, but for more introverted or introspective Emperors, leadership qualities are recognizable in the example they set for others through the way they live their lives as opposed to assuming clear positions of power in their family or career.

When The Emperor birth or year card shows up in its unconscious/wounded state— or as a reversal in a reading— we see those valuable traits turn sour. Volatility, chaos, rigidity/fundamentalism, obstruction, oppression (of self or others), absenteeism, opportunism, refusal of responsibility, gaslighting, and authoritarian beliefs are all ways the ego-driven Emperor archetype acts out. I would say that white supremacist and patriarchal beliefs are traits found in the wounded Emperor, as well.

In short:

  • The Emperor archetype in its wholeness draws from a deep well of personal power, or seeks healthy ways to fill that well to gain stability.

  • The Emperor archetype acting from its shadow or unconsciously wounded state draws from a deep well of self-service, seeking to gain (or maintain) power no matter the cost.

And when a person who seeks to gain or maintain power at all costs surrounds themselves with people who will do their bidding or give them cover? The republic has a problem.

To be fair: The republic was founded on some problems. America was built on genocide and slavery. To bemoan that this country has changed in some radical way thanks to this particular president is delusional at best and dishonest at worst. Many of us have aspirations for making this place better, but we’ve got to be real about the seeds our forebears sowed if that’s going to be an option. “I don’t recognize my country” may be how you feel, but it’s worth asking yourself what blinders allowed you to avoid the uglier parts of our history up until this point.

Because those blinders are how we collectively, as a country, stay in shadow. They are result of a nation unwilling to face its unconscious wounds, and are exactly why approximately one third of the population believes that their own best interests will be served by the Authoritarian in Chief.

How many of us have really considered that his supporters and enablers really do want an unchecked king? Authoritarians require subjects and henchmen, and there are plenty of both.

Think about it: If you voted for him, you knew who you were going to get. An Emperor is what you wanted, and that’s what you got. He might be willing to put children in cages and use his office to make money and do other things that are unpatriotic or uncouth, but he’s all “#MAGA!!!!!!!,” and you think that means YOU might be okay even if those “other” people aren’t. We can see this behavior in white men, but there are MANY white women & some people of color who act in service to systems of oppression in the belief (conscious or not) that they’ll be spared-- or celebrated-- by performing their appropriate roles.

45 is a con-man who is most likely to charm the people who want to believe in his promise. He is most alluring to those who think he will a) Help them gain power, and/or b) At least not let the people they dislike gain any power. They falsely believe that if others are oppressed, it makes their success more likely. That the ends justify the means.

But when one part of the environment becomes polluted, it has negative impacts on the whole system. The same is true for our Tarot Ecosystems and their impacts on the health of The Collective. The interconnectedness of our human relationships means that we all suffer the consequences of toxic patterns and behaviors. When we buy into the myth of separation, we ultimately buy into our own destruction.

I’ve been framing this in the scheme of American government, but this is not unique to my country. We all have a part to play if we want a future of liberation. But many of us in the United States have been approaching the situation here as if 45 is a President who exists within the framework of a functioning and healthy democracy. We assume that constitutional norms will hold.

We would all do well to see the President for who he is: A Wounded Emperor who relishes chaos and dysfunction. He has no use for norms. Some may think that his wounded characteristics can be manipulated for their own gain-- either to take him down or to bolster their own success--but that tactic will only result in an uninhabitable landscape for everyone.

Without self-awareness-- or during times of stress-- each of us acts unconsciously from our wounds or shadows. It’s part of what it means to be human. But whatever your tarot archetypes, you choose the way they manifest. You choose a life invested in our collective connection or a life that prioritizes separation.

Which will it be?

Curious to dig into your own tarot archetypes? Book a Tarot Chart session with me (in-person or distance).

Sara HolodnickComment