The Lessons of 2020 and the Emperor Year

I think we can all agree that 2020 was a difficult year. I have already watched, read, and listened to multiple videos, articles, and podcasts that have outlined some of the more life-changing events that happened during the past year. 2020 brought death, destruction, separation, and violence in many different aspects. From other perspectives, however, it brought awareness and reflection. It was definitely a complex year.

I’ve spent some time during the past couple of weeks reflecting on the year and the lessons that it brought to me. I remember how excited I was about 2020 being an Emperor year, from the perspective of the Tarot: when you add the digits of 2020 together, they equal 4, and Emperor is the fourth card of the Major Arcana. I don’t prescribe to the interpretation of the Emperor as the imperialistic, patriarchal male figure, which is a common interpretation of the card. Because the Emperor card is associated with Aries, I interpret it as having to do with assertiveness, being okay with taking up your space in the world, and movement associated with your life calling. On the zodiacal wheel, Aries is the first sign and has to do with the essence of who we are on a soul level. The Emperor asks us to step into the truth of our identity as soul beings. Stepping into my truth has been hard for me for most of my life, so I was excited about the lessons that this year would bring.

Fours are all about structures. In the case of 2020, with all of the changes that we have faced and the disruption those changes have caused to existing structures, the Emperor seems to have signaled that disruption or destruction of existing societal structures and the beginnings of the building of new structures in our society. As a collective, we have experienced more awareness of systemic oppression in multiple facets of our society, including racial inequalities, police brutality, and marginalization of LGBTQ+ and BIPOC folx. This awareness has led to a rising up of voices in the form of protests and other forms of activism. We have also seen more awareness around the effects related to capitalism. We have seen people changing the way they live and work related to that awareness. There has been dialogue about how the structures that were put into place when this country was founded caused real harm and trauma and continues to cause harm and trauma to this day.

Emperor themes arise on a personal level as well. I was recently gifted an experience that summed up Emperor energy for me. A friend of mine was leaving a job that she liked for a better opportunity. When she told me about the environment of the place she was going, I thought about how awesome it would be to work in a place like that. If I had indulged in the fantasy that my mind created, my whole job would have been different than it is now. It would have been the same as the job I was doing before I ended up where I am now. It would have been the same as the job that landed me in burnout. But I have often fantasized about going back into that aspect of my field because it was fun and I was good at it. The temptation to send in my resume for another opening that was available was strong, but then I thought about everything that my current job offers me. It allows me the opportunity to build on the skills I have already acquired. It has allowed me the opportunity to heal from my burnout. It is a place of support and growth, and the skills that I am learning will help me as I move forward with what my guides are calling me to do. If I had indulged in my brain fantasy, I would have been taking a huge step backward, a step that could have potentially taken years to right. In the moment that I came to the conclusion that I was in the right place doing what I was meant to be doing, I gained a newfound confidence in my current position. True to my Emperor interpretation, I had found the confidence to step into my place and take up space. It also gave me more confidence in my candle magick abilities as I work to build a future for myself in this completely new field (new for me, anyway). It seems that completely letting go of the past and embracing the present really does lead to more confidence in one’s abilities.

Social media did not help me in this personal journey. Constantly seeing what other people are doing on their journeys brings forward a lot of anxiety and stress about what I am doing, whether or not I am doing it right, if I should be doing it differently. Stepping away from social media has given me the presence of mind to realize that my journey is my own and that it doesn’t need to look like anyone else’s. My brain and nervous system have been a lot healthier without social media in my life, and my confidence in my own journey has grown the longer I have been without it.

However, when social awareness exploded over police brutality of BIPOC folx, social media help me see, hear, and understand the points of view of marginalized people and voice my support. It also helped me find ways to financially support organizations committed to change.

Emperor energy also helped me to examine my relationship with the capitalistic structures in our society, from the way our society weight-shames to the way the structure instills an unhealthy work ethic in the bottom tier of the workforce. Rest and grounding became constant themes of the year for me as I worked to heal from the damage that years in a burnout state had caused. I developed many self-care rituals to help me in this process and to help me manage every day stress (which is much different since the pandemic hit), from herbal teas to essential oil blends.

2020 was definitely a difficult year, but it did build a foundation for the work that 2021 will bring. The job now is to take the knowledge and skills that we gained and build a new, brighter future with them.