This is an article in a series in blog posts…. the “The Major Arcana In-Depth” series! Every few weeks I will be featuring one card of the Major Arcana, from the Fool to the World. Come take a tarot journey with me!
To learn about the Major Arcana overall and the first card in the Major Arcana, The Fool, go here.
To learn about the Magician, go here.
To learn about the High Priestess, go here.
To learn about the Empress, go here.
To learn about the Emperor, go here.
To learn about the Hierophant, go here.
The Duality of the Lovers Card
Oh, the Lovers card. Quite a few cards that are considered negative cards at a glance are misunderstood, but this is a card I consider equally misunderstood, despite the fact that people believe it to have inherently positive qualities.
The Lovers card makes those seeking love ooh and ahhh when it comes up in a reading. To which I have to then burst their bubbles slightly. Because while the Lovers card seems to be a sexy card on the surface, in reality it’s more about choice and consequences than about losing yourself in a steamy tryst (oh poop, that’s kinda boring, isn’t it?). Mr. or Mrs. Right vs. Mr. and Mrs. Right Now is more the Devil card to me (temptation) than the Lovers card. And if you’re looking for “the One”, I would rather see the 2 of Cups over the Lovers, anytime.
Benebell Wen says something like this in her book Holistic Tarot about the Lovers card: “By most traditional accounts of Key 6, The Lovers card isn’t about romantic love per se, but rather it’s about moral choice. It expresses the duality of the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge and how that duality might manifest in our lives.” (from her review of the Psychic Tarot for the Heart deck). This card is also about the duality between duty and desire, obligation and freedom, frivolity and responsibility.
Up until now in the Fool’s Journey, each character has been set up as guideposts along the path. Each encounter, there wasn’t really choice involved besides to go forward and meet new characters, or to go backward from whence he came. The Lovers card really is the first inkling of self-actualization and sovereignty for the Fool. The road forks here, and the choice becomes his rather than thrust upon him.
Traditional depiction in RWS: an angel presides over Eve and Adam (presumably), Eve has the Tree of Knowledge and the snake behind her, Adam has a tree aflame behind him (the Tree of Life). A mountain is also between them, but off in the distance.
Keywords: choice, a decision needs to be made, duality, harmony, partnership (romantic or business), where does your decision making come from, head or heart?
“Love isn’t logical… it’s emotional.”—Carrie Bradshaw, “Sex and the City” (movie)
“I must have a prodigious amount of mind; it takes me as much as a week, sometimes, to make it up!” —Mark Twain
“The problem, simply put, is that we cannot choose everything simultaneously. So we live in danger of becoming paralyzed by indecision, terrified that every choice might be the wrong choice.”—Elizabeth Gilbert,
“When faced with two equally tough choices, most people choose the third choice: to not choose.”—Jarod Kintz,“It does not take much strength to do things, but it requires a great deal of strength to decide what to do.”—Elbert Hubbard
“We can never see past the choices we don’t understand.”—The Oracle, The Matrix Reloaded
“Love is a decision, it is a judgment, it is a promise. If love were only a feeling, there would be no basis for the promise to love each other forever. A feeling comes and it may go. How can I judge that it will stay forever, when my act does not involve judgment and decision.”—Erich Fromm,
“Sometimes, making the wrong choice is better than making no choice. You have the courage to go forward, that is rare. A person who stands at the fork, unable to pick, will never get anywhere.”—Terry Goodkind,
“Love is a decision – not an emotion!”—Lao Tzu,
What I think of when I see the Lovers: This depends on the client, the reading, and the other cards in the reading. But overall, I tell the client that a major choice can no longer be delayed… that they are at a crossroads. Sometimes the Wheel of Fortune will come up to indicate a stalling in a choice, but the Wheel of Fortune to me indicates multiple possible paths, while the Lovers card indicates to me that the client has a choice between 2 equally viable options.
When The Lovers Shows Up in a Reading
Upright: now is the right time to make the choice, any delay to making the choice may change the circumstances and decision-making process involved in the choosing, 2 equally appealing options are available.
Reversed: a blockage in making the choice, waiting for a third option to arise magically, seeking other viewpoints or outside help to make the choice for you, using others as a sounding board.
Ultimately, if/when you read for yourself, please keep the things I listed above in mind… and if you disagree, PLEASE use your own meanings for this card. Your thoughts on each individual card are invaluable, and lead you to a multi-layered understanding of the tarot that no one individual book/Little White Book/teacher can give you. Your experience with the cards counts, too!
Tarot class dismissed!
How do you relate to The Lovers? Hot and steamy, or the responsibility of choice? Share your experiences in the Comments section below.
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