The Grand Duke/The Emperor
If the Grand Duchess is the beauty and abundance of nature, then the Grand Duke is the power and authority of man’s laws. This is a ruler, a symbol of hierarchy and government, law and order, the structure of civilization. Order has been forged from Chaos, and the Grand Duke upholds that order. He is a rational man, ruling his heart with his head, and making hard decisions with a clear mind and a strong focus. He holds conviction and confidence in his power, and thus is willing to uphold his judgments and rulings, because he knows they are sound.
(Yes, rationality and leadership are man things in tarot. Symbolism!!!!!)
The important thing to recall is that the Grand Duke is an ideal. Much as how the Grand Duchess represents the generosity of nature (even though nature is very often nasty, uncaring, and harsh), the Grand Duke is the ideal ruler. He’s a strong leader, and has the ability and motivation to organize people effectively. He rules with a firm hand, but a just one. He will listen to the counsel of others, though the final decision is always his. He’s fair and rational, and because of this, he is highly respected. This is a strongly principled man, and the law he sets down reflects these principles. He is the sign of security, power, and protection that comes with an ordered society. He’s more than just a man, really – he’s a symbol of stability, a symbol of the ideal society and the ideal governance of that society.
The Grand Duke can also counterbalance the Grand Duchess by being seen as a father. He is an authoritarian parent figure, raising his children with rules and guidelines. This is his way of protecting his children, and he is also quite willing to use his sword to defend them. The Grand Duke can be a man of war, if he has to be.
“I rule by serving and I serve by ruling.” Law and Structure cannot become corrupted on its own power, and neither can the Grand Duke. While rules can seem restrictive and pointless, the laws of the Grand Duke all have a purpose and reason for existing. Imposing the mind over the heart isn’t often welcomed, but that doesn’t make it any less necessary. The Grand Duke represents the importance of discipline, and how discipline can grant the conviction to forge ahead and achieve one’s goals.
It’s not hard to figure out how an authoritarian card can go horribly wrong. Inverted, the Grand Duke is a tyrant, plain and simple. He doesn’t earn respect, he demands it. His rules are no longer about serving the people, but about having more rules. He’s too strict and harsh, unable to realize that his crushing authority is only letting more people slip through his fingers – and crushing the rest. The law here is no longer keeping order, it’s stifling initiative. As a father, it’s his way or no way, and his kids are either angrily rebellious to spite him, or had their spirits crushed a long time ago. The need for control has created a lack of control, and the need for a strong state has created a weak state.