While this commanding guy can represent a father figure or a boss or an encounter with some other authority figure, my favorite meaning involves one of taking control of YOUR LIFE.
Too many times we forget that we have free will that we are able to exercise over a situation. That we have control to take steps in life to make it into what we want.
Sometimes we sit back and we worry that we might be stuck in a job, or stuck in a relationship that isn't good for us.
We may be stuck living where we don't want to be living, or we're in a situation where someone isn't treating us with the respect we deserve, or we get caught up doing what everyone else wants us to be doing. We leave ourselves little time to ask the question about what it IS we even want out of our lives.
Well, the Emperor is here to remind you that if you want a new job, take the initiative and go out and look for a better one. Think about what you want to be doing, who you want to be around, how you want your life to look, and take the steps to get yourself there.
And while you are trying to figure everything else out, start thinking in terms of things that feel in line with WHO YOU ARE, not what you think might make you look suitable to someone else, or some group. Either way, this card is asking you to take the steps here for yourself.
On another note, the Emperor could represent someone in your life who might be a little controlling or bossy. Free will and agency is still involved in this scenario. If someone is trying to control how you live your life, and it is making you feel uncomfortable, do not let this person control you anymore.
Sometimes being controlled or bossed around is unavoidable if you are in a job situation, so your best bet there, if you want to stay in that job, is to kind of detach yourself. If you are in a relationship, where someone is trying to control you, the second you feel you don't know who you are, or feel disconnected from your wild glorious self, speak up for what you want.
This card could also speak toward the need for structure in your life. Maybe you work for yourself. Maybe you're retired. Maybe you're a student. Maybe you're on disability. If you find your schedule can be dictated by you, and you are feeling a little lost, perhaps it's some time that you figure out how to put some structure in place.
Every Sunday you could write out a list of the things you need to accomplish in the coming week. Perhaps even do that the night before. If you don't know what you want to accomplish, maybe schedule when to have your meals or schedule some time to look for things that might interest you. Wake up at a specific time, go to bed at a specific time every night. Schedule what nights you want to eat what, especially if you are trying to change your lifestyle. Perhaps you are eating raw, or paleo, or vegan...whatever it is, even if it's tacos.
Schedule something. It will free you up to think about other things you might want to do with yourself.
Whatever you decide, all of these things mention taking control of how you live your life and how you make yourself happy. So today start thinking about what the life YOU want to lead looks like, and then start acting on it!