Stalker cards are loosely defined as cards that keep showing up in your readings. They often seem out of place in the reading and have been known to fall out of the deck when they weren’t in line to show up. Most people who read tarot or oracle even casually will have stalker cards on occasion. I went through a period of “The Star” showing up at every turn until I finally buckled down and did some Work On Myself, and yes, that deserved caps. After the U.S. election of 2016 everything was “The Fool” because none of us knew how to operate anymore.
Lately something new-to-me has been happening: I’ve had a PAIR of stalker cards showing up in reading after reading after reading. The Empress & The Emperor are a big reason I started a Queering the Tarot journey in the first place but I rarely saw them together for years beyond when I was learning a new deck and stretching them all out on the floor. Two months ago they started showing up in almost every reading I did. Readings for clients, friends, and community members: there were the Empress & Emperor together. Readings for myself: there they were. It even happened a few times in my #dailytarot series on Instagram.
The Empress and Emperor, for those who don’t know, represent contrasting but complementary energies. The Empress is nurturing and creation. The Emperor is discipline and growth. They both have a dark side too. The Empress can be overbearing and The Emperor can be cruel and strict. Many readers read the Empress as mother and the Emperor as father. Again, that can include positive or negative associations with both depending on the seeker and the situation. In readings, usually one (either one) will show up when someone needs to take control of their life back. The Empress on its own shows up for artists or very occasionally to tell parent-clients of mine to back off of their kids’ lives for now. The Emperor shows up to remind self-employed clients that they have to actually get up and do work if they want money. This card also shows up if someone’s boss or partner is too controlling and it’s time to walk away. These are obviously totally different situations and totally different readings.
Now they’re everywhere together though, hunting me down and forcing me to listen and I’m finally starting to understand what it’s all about: the Empress/Emperor duality living in me and the constant internal struggle of who gets to win when. The Tarot in it’s simplest form is really just a deck of 78 archetypes and how they interact. We all have all 78 cards living and working inside of us at different points in our life. The Empress and The Emperor should be showing up at different times, and once I realized they weren’t I knew it was time to pay attention.
Since my brain injury I’ve had a lot of trouble completing basic tenants of adulthood. Waking up before noon, working more than three hours a day, and eating well all confound me and leave me exhausted now. It would make sense for The Emperor alone to be stalking me and yelling at me to do better. It would make sense for The Empress alone to show up to remind me to be kind to myself or to focus on creative work until I got that fire back. Together they remind me to be kind to myself AND to get work done. This is a really frustrating situation because PTSD gives me an “all or nothing” mentality which means I either work myself to the bone for days on end or I sleep until noon and avoid work by going on adventures the second one of my friends has a free moment. There’s no in between for me.
Which is obviously the problem. My brain injury really taught me that I can not work myself to the bone the way I often do and expect to recover from life-altering circumstances. It just isn’t physically possible. Life and capitalism and loving my work means that I don’t want to blow off work all day and eat whatever happens to be in the cabinet. I have to find a balance. I have to find a way for the driven and ambitious Emperor to co-exist with the kind and nurturing Empress—especially since she’s so driven herself!
I don’t have any solutions yet, but I’m listening. If you’re getting a pair of stalker cards, it is very likely that the cards are showing you a duality within yourself that you need to make peace with and find a comfortable place to sit within. It’s time to sit back and listen. Examine the artwork on your cards and see what hidden symbols or messages you find. Look at the readings as a whole and see what messages beyond the pair of stalker cards end up repeating. Track your readings—and do the other spiritual and emotional work that you require. Within time, you’ll find a way to come to terms with the contrasting energies you’re now getting blasted with; if you’re like me, you’ll also find so much peace and love of self in the listening alone.
Blessed be y’all.