The Empress represents a departure from the dualistic philosophy of the first three Major Arcana, as well as from the strongly spiritual teachings of those three cards. Rather than simple dichotomies of positive and negative, the Tarot now starts dealing with the unfication of spirit, mind and body. The Empress is the latter leg of this triad, representing the physical body and the material world. From her comes all the pleasure of the senses and the abundance of life in all its forms. She is also the mother archetype, and through her we get a first glimpse of the power of love in the Tarot.
The world of the Empress is an ideal and perfectly beautiful place, totally natural, untouched by artificial colors, lights or sounds. This is a place of bounty and fertility, a living representation of the process of creation and birth that the Empress herself symbolizes. She doesn't just live in this place, she is this place, just as much as the Priestess is the balance that keeps apart positive and negative. The Empress is no less beautiful than the flowers that throw their scent across her fields, no less fertile than the soil that lies underneath her throne. If anything represents the idea of Mother Earth in the Tarot, then it is the Empress.
Her primary power, like the two Arcana before her, is the power of creation. But her creation is not based on creating the world she wishes to live in, or the person she wants to be, because she has that world and is that person. She creates life in all its myriad forms. The Empress is the archetype of the mother, the ultimate creator and giver of life; thus her associations can be extended beyond creativity into fertility, pregnancy and the daunting task of motherhood, which she always faces with a smile and a happy heart. She takes pleasure in all things, particularly her own creations - and everything in nature is her own creation.
Tying into the theme of motherhood is the notion of unconditional love, which the Empress also represents. She makes no demands, sets no conditions, just loves everything equally and with all the power she can. From this, it can be said, derives her only real weakness, and it is something that all mothers deal with at some point. She is often over-protective of her creations, and wishes no harm to come to them at all. That would disrupt the eternal bliss and happiness of her realm. But as it is, the realm of the Empress is both the picture of beauty and of stagnation. So while the Empress' love can make you feel as secure as if we are in your mother's arms, it can also turn into a prison if experienced for too long.
When the Empress appears in your life, you should make special effort to open up to her perfect and unconditional love. In that way you can become more like her: gentle and affectionate, gracious and elegant. Such qualities are often neglected, but they are also useful in a world of harshness and apathy. So instead of plodding through life, take some time to celebrate it! The Empress can often herald the conception or the birth of a child, and in that circumstance there is even greater reason to celebrate. Inspire others to do the same; the Empress is a leader, and the power she holds over other people is firm, but loving. Know this and lead as she would.
Know also that the perfectly abundant world of the Empress is always free for you to enjoy. Even if you know that you have to go back to the "real world" eventually, a vacation from the hectic and artificial life that most people live these days will certainly be welcome. Spend some time outdoors, in the fresh air, enjoying every aspect of creation. And then, when you go back to where you were, the Empress' creative power and beauty will remain to inspire you and give you power. Strengthen your innate connection with the Earth's creativity and you will, by association, strengthen your own creative power. Cultivate your creativity and plants the seeds of a bountiful harvest.