At long last, my blog post on The Lovers! I can’t believe how long this post has taken me to write!
So, who are The Lovers? At first glance this card appears to be about romantic love, especially looking at the heated embrace being shared between Tarot Mucha’s two! However, there is much more to it: Corinne Kenner describes the relationship depicted in this card as being more one of “twin souls,” or “kindred spirits” (48). This card is about soulmates, the people we need to meet in order to feel fulfilled in life, although these are not necessarily the ones we spend our entire lives with. These are the people who help us expand our minds, take the focus off our individual selves, and realize our place in the World. The astrological association is Gemini, the Twins, which is the sign that rules communication and relation to others (Kenner 49).
That’s not to say this card doesn’t deal with love! The choice of a partner is one of the biggest we make in our lives. The Tarot de Marseilles “shows a young man struck by Cupid’s arrow and forced to choose between two women” (Pollack 58). The Feng Shui Tarot shows a couple being wed, having already made their choice, while the Rider-Waite-Smith shows two Edenic Lovers being watched over by a guardian angel. These depictions really got me thinking about what kind of “choice” a committed relationship is: it’s agreeing to set aside your ego in favour of blending lives with another person, and continually “choosing” them, even when you both stink, when the space you’ve chosen to share looks like a pigsty, and nobody wants to choose (heh heh) what to make for supper or when to make it – that’s when the choice really comes in to play, and that’s when you decide to see your own reflection in the next decision to be made. The Lovers’ choice is most powerful when the going is tough and you choose to keep going – together!
Yes, as Marcus Katz and Tali Goodwin describe, The Lovers’ motto is “Every Moment a Decision” (189). While it’s lovely to think that some higher force can save us from making the “wrong” decisions, it’s just not so! Many Lovers cards depict an angel protecting The Lovers’ union, and yet “[the angel] cannot protect them from making choices – both wise and foolish – that contribute to their souls’ growth, both as indivduals and as a pair” (Weatherstone 17). The trick is realizing that there are no wrong choices, just different ones, and only the realization that “our choices mirror back to us the person we wish to become” (Sharman-Burke and Greene 37). Thus we can see that The Lovers is ultimately “a moral choice, about choosing the right path” (Wen 82). What pressure! How can we possibly choose? Some people choose not to choose, out of fear of being “ready:” well, if there’s one thing that can help our choices along, it’s that “life forces…challenges upon all of us before we feel ready” (Sharman-Burke and Greene 38). We need to make choices so that we can learn from them, and these continually bring us closer to that “loving” feeling of knowing you’ve gotten to the point where you want to be. And even then there will be more choices to be made, always and forever!
The Mythic Tarot shows Paris being made to choose between Hera, Aphrodite, and Athena in a beauty contest. Talk about a difficult choice, and one that leads to zany subsequent decisions – Paris chooses Aphrodite, goddess of Love, and is rewarded with the love of his life – unfortunately Helen already has a husband, and Athena gets her revenge as Paris and Helen’s union causes the Trojan War. As Benebell Wen offers, “we face an existential choice between two life paths, either one willfully hedonistic or one grounded in our sense of ethical duty. The Lovers card suggests a primordial responsibility to choose ethically” (Wen 83). Indeed, “all choices have consequences for which we are ultimately responsible. Without passing through this initiation by fire, we cannot understand how we create our own futures, but instead blame the results on fate, chance, or someone else’s fault, rather than our own lack of reflection” (Sharman-Burke and Greene 38).
Image via Mai Manó Ház ‘s Pinterest
All choices have consequences, for better or for worse, but it’s much easier when we keep focused on the ones to come, rather than the ones that have passed us by. The Lovers reversed can indicate such dwelling on the past, or of allowing deep-set concepts of “how things should be” to interfere with your current trajectory. It can suggest meddling from someone outside the relationship as well (Wen 84). Upright, all can be trusted to be well, knowing that your bond is strong and your choices are being made from the right ethical place – reversed means something has you questioning your standards of morality and feeling like you’ve veered off course.
My interpretation of The Lovers finds a young couple walking past a bridal shop. The man points at a dress in the window, looking to his love to absorb every bit of her reaction. She looks back and smiles, fully feeling the warmth of their combined embrace. A mirror in the shop window allows the back of the beautiful black-and-white dress to be seen, but it also reflects the backs of the lovers, showing them entwined from every angle. The shop is called “Angel~” and represents the traditional institution that officiates the union of two people in a committed relationship. The fiery window motif represents the sometimes hot, sometimes scary, and always changing nature of a love-relationship. The snake and apple represent the biblical version of the choice made by Adam and Eve to leave their comfort zone and take a leap of faith into the unknown, together, leaving behind their innocence and committing to a grittier journey with each other as the only tangible fallback. My Lovers are still in the phase of innocence, of playing with ideas together. While the dress is enticing, for now they choose to stroll on, pulled ever-closer by the butterflies of future possibility!
Astrological Oracle Cards. LWB: Lunea Weatherstone. Artwork: Antonella Castelli. Torino, Italy: Lo Scarabeo, 2012. © Lo Scarabeo Italy.
Feng Shui Tarot. Eileen Connolly and Peter Paul Connolly. Published by U.S. Game Systems. Scan via Tarot.com, November 5, 2015. Illustrations from Feng Shui Tarot used with permission of U.S. Games Systems, Inc., Stamford, CT 06902. c. 2001 by U.S. Games Systems. All rights reserved.
Katz, Marcus and Tali Goodwin. Around the Tarot in 78 Days. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2012.
Kenner, Corrine. Tarot and Astrology. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2011.
Pollack, Rachel. Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom: A Book of Tarot. San Fransisco, CA: Weiser Books, 1997.
Sharman-Burke, Juliet and Liz Greene. The Mythic Tarot: A New Approach to the Tarot Cards. Cards illustrated by Tricia Newell. Toronto, ON: Stoddart Publishing Co. Ltd, 1988.
Tarot Mucha. LWB: Lunea Weatherstone. Artwork: Giulia F. Massaglia. Torino, Italy: Lo Scarabeo, 2014. © Lo Scarabeo Italy.
Wen, Benebell. Holistic Tarot. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 2015.