The Empress is the card of nature, growth, slow and gradual natural change, patience, pregnancy, harvests, the seasons passing, and life itself.
It can be compared with the other female cards in the Major Arcana, for example, the World card is how Nature appears to us, and the Star card is hidden nature. The Empress is the goddess, the power and patterns behind everything.
This card means that all things are due in time, and may also be compared to the Queen of Pentacles, another very nature-based card. It carries a similar meaning of nurturing, of compassion and care. Both are cards of the mother and motherhood.
If she appears in a past position, that time of growth has passed, and nothing new will arise; it is time to seek a new field to seed, nurture and harvest. In the future, she is asking for patience – time will have to pass before “nature takes its course”.