Hero's Journey Part 10.
The Empress


Canvas with swirling paint has a pile of food, shellfish, and plants with a woman figure seated on top with the earth for a face. Above, the goddess Inanna floats.
Hero's Journey Part 10.
The Empress
Mixed media on Canvas 9" x 9"
Emily Schleiner, 2021

Throughout my life, I’ve felt the need to scramble, both financially and emotionally. I felt that who I was wasn’t good enough and that I needed to hustle in order to survive life’s uncertainties. I relocated to Knoxville TN for two years in 2014, and during that time I met a friend who, when I asked if she was religious, answered “yes, I’m Pagan”. Surprised and curious, I asked her questions and did some research. I came to understand that there are many (Neo) Pagan people in the US and other parts of the world. Although a vague term, generally Pagans do not hold the beliefs of most mainstream religions, and many identify with or worship a variety of entities and feel a connection with nature. Some trace their belief systems and practices back to a European pre-Christian world, although there is a huge range of beliefs and practices from around the world. Some individuals label themselves as witches, druids, or other spine tingling terms. My particular friend has a relationship with Greek and Celtic deities, and attended group ceremonies occasionally. I learned about a large and culturally rich community of people who often (but not always) worship goddesses, non-male, and or sex changing entities. I made new contacts over the internet, attended meetups, and began to take in my new perspective on the world. Common beliefs seem to be that bodies are beautiful, sex is sacred, women are powerful, and that the earth is a divine force. I have participated in and created rituals for myself that affirm me in ways I did not know I wanted or needed. I also have taken a course on reading Tarot cards, which has given me access to new and more complex ways of thinking about and interacting with the world. I feel balance being restored in my life.

In Part 10, a sense of abundance that Emily Schleiner now feels she can access at will is conveyed with mounds of molluscs, baskets of fresh produce, by a feminine figure in a throne-like chair, plants, animals, and a carving of the ancient Sumerian goddess Innana.

A crowned figure reclines on a heart with lush plants all around.
The Empress card from the Rider Waite Smith Tarot deck was created by A. E. Waite and illustrated by Pamela Colman Smith (also called the Rider-Waite Tarot deck). It is now a part of the Public Domain.