How can I enjoy my creative passions? What follows is a comparison of the imagery and interpretation of the Rider-Waite deck's Empress card, The Haindl deck's Empress card, and the corresponding Collective Tarot deck's Reception card, all of which are each deck's trump #3 in the major arcana.
In Rider-Waite, images of stars and the moon, full hearts, fertile pomegranates, ready-to-harvest wheat, passionately flowing waterfalls, bright green gardens and a luxurious seat lush with pillows surround the Empress in confident repose. She is independently sexual. "Her passion flows into all she does, like the waterfall that pours into the stream flowing underneath her throne." (Rachel Pollack, The New Tarot Handbook) Everything about this image is fertile and ready to be enjoyed. Venus/Aphrodite is paid homage as well as Demeter, all passionate goddesses whose love changed the shape of the world.
Haindl's rich imagery uses the Hebrew letter Daleth "Door" and the rune Thorn, a giant that causes suffering. A copy of Botticelli's Venus rising from the sea, independent of any parents, of her own will to exist, with an open door, a portal in the background and mirrored images of the rune Berkano above her head, meaning birth and continued renewal, or the rune Hagal, the symbol of hail that transforms from a mode of destruction into nourishment of water. Either of these can be seen the form of a crystal at her crown chakra, indicating perfect divine connection. Only, rather than a shell as Botticelli imagined, Venus is riding on a crescent moon- is it waxing or waning? The beginning or the end of a natural cycle? An eye triangulated above watches and takes in light purely. A serpent, like Eve's tempter, coils around her arm, more like a pet than a trickster. She is in control, though she does seem to listen to the advice of the little bird near her ear. Unlike the purely vaginal and womb-like imagery in the Rider-Waite deck, this deck depicts phallic snakes and scepters alongside crescent moons and open doors. There is a sexual balance to the card as Haindl imagined it. Rachel Pollack in her book "The Haindl Tarot; The Major Arcana" describes this as an indication of sexuality and other responsibilities such as spirituality and parenthood as being in tandem rather than separate, as patriarchal society would have us believe. She stresses sexual or creative expression as a key divinatory element in Haindl's Empress.
In The Collective Tarot, the Empress has been reformed and renamed into Receptivity, in an attempt to glean the essential nature of the card without projecting cis gender binary essentialism onto the querent. Rather than a woman or vaginal imagery, Collective Tarot uses an open palm, and a pan-gender person held in it. Wheat and figs, Demeter's fertile signifiers, are present above in the moon, amidst in the belly of the held human, and below in the fields. The booklet description with this card provides wisdom on providing ourselves with nurturing and sweet, loving care, opening up, lowering boundaries and walls. The seeds in the fig take a long time to ripen, reception takes time. Just as a birth mother openly receives a child and releases from it, so must we openly receive and release from divine purpose. Receiving what comes our way is a practice of acceptance, of faith, trust in the universe to provide for the seeds we drop into its fertile ground.
Thanks to @inthe78cards and @thetruthinstory for hosting this month's awesome challenge, as I'm loving the wealth of information coming from all these comparisons.