In honor of Valentine’s Day, let’s look at the Lovers (really look at them, in one case).
The Lovers card is, of course, a portent of love. Barbara G. Walker even included Eros (Cupid in Roman), the personification of love, in her Lovers card. However, being a critical reader of cards (like a critical reader of literature) involves looking at the details as well as the big picture, and reading between the lines. For example, the officiant of this marriage is a priestess, not the traditional priest. This is not only a legal marriage; there is a deeper, subconscious connection.
Barbara G. Walker writes that since the young man is between an older woman and a younger woman, this card may indicate a choice between mother and wife, youth and maturity, body and spirit (Walker 8). If this triangle sticks out to you, by all means, that interpretation may be what your intuition is pointing you toward. On the other hand, the older woman may seem like a wise teacher, giving her blessings to the young couple. This may tell the reader that the relationship in question is blessed and approved, by destiny if not by the couples’ parents. If the teacher archetype really sticks out for you in this card, it could mean that the questioner should contemplate (or is contemplating) the pursuit of a passion, in all its many forms. They may be beginning a yoga practice, or starting a painting, or about to go on a date. This is a good omen that they are on the right track!
Venus is, of course, the perfect goddess to represent The Lovers in Kris Waldherr’s Goddess Deck. While Venus (Aphrodite in Greek) was a goddess of romantic love, she was also a goddess of beauty in general. Thus, if Venus (or The Lovers) show up in a reading, they may indicate a surge of creative energy, or simply that the questioner needs (or is being given) plenty of beauty to feast on. This can also indicate a person with a gift for making things beautiful.
This is where it gets racy–
Sometimes The Lovers are just The Lovers. The card is simply telling the questioner she has a crush, or lusts after a new partner. Look closely at the moon in The Lovers card for the Celtic deck– Mary Guinan drew it as a waxing crescent. This could be the beginning, or the honeymoon phase, of a relationship, and it is swelling just as the moon does.
Okay, send the kids out of the room, if you’re squeamish–
I’ll give you a minute to get the staring out of your system.
All done? Good, because there’s more to this card then privates and thingies and naughty bits, as in all Robin Wood cards. The nudity, while of course underscoring romantic love and sexual passion, is also symbolic of a pure, unashamed state. This could be speaking to a relationship where the couple is secure in themselves with each other, or the two are exploring new things together, a la Jasmine and Aladdin. This state can also describe a new interest in the questioner’s life. Remember “beginner’s mind”? This Zen concept is defined as the purest, most open state of mind, the mind most receptive to learning. The person’s interest is unadulterated.
Looking at other parts of the couple’s bodies besides the very obvious ones, you may notice the color of their hair. Yes, they have hair on their heads. The man has golden hair, and the woman has raven hair. You may also notice that the man is balancing a sun, and the woman is balancing a moon. They are connected by a arcing rainbow. This is symbolic of the balance between yin and yang, male and female, bright and dark. The masculine attributes of strength, ambition, power, and consciousness is equal to, no more or less, to the feminine attributes of intuition, the ability to plumb the subconscious, and nurturing. Combined, this leads to fertility (as can be seen in the blossoming flowers and fruit on the card). This fertility may be physical, artistic, intellectual, or spiritual. If the question is about a couple, they would seem to be a perfect match (of course, nobody’s perfect, but they’re pretty happy, indeed!). If it’s about an individual, this means that this person is extremely harmonious internally.
The Lovers can also mean that the person has committed himself to a new spiritual or intellectual practice. The beloved in this case is a Higher Power, or a new philosophy of life. It may also show that the questioner has chosen to commit to her Self, and this is a romance that lasts a lifetime.
Reversed, The Lovers card means that He or She is Just Not That Into You, or there is a lack of commitment in the scenario being analyzed. There is a mismatch. It might not work out.
But enough negativity. As we have seen, The Lovers is an excellent card for, well, lovers. However, it shouldn’t be underestimated as a one-dimensional card. It can refer not only to the love between a lover and the beloved, but between the lover and a Higher Power, a Lover and Nature, a Lover and Art, a Lover and Philosophy– the list goes on, including between a Lover and the Self. So, if you’re single for Valentine’s Day, don’t despair–as The Lovers have shown us, Love should flow freely wherever the heart wills it, not just on our romantic partners.
I’d like to leave you with some quotes by Rumi, who knew a thing or two about Love:
When life ends we are given another.
Love is the water of Eternal Life;
when you enter that immense sea,
you will know that each drop of it
brims with Life.
We are in love with Love
because Love is our salvation.
Our guide is the Soul
and Love, the water of life.
Woe to him who cannot find the source
for his path is barred by ignorance.
Your body is woven
from the light of Heaven.
Are you aware
that its purity and swiftness
are the envy of the angels
and its courage
keeps even devils away?
You stepped on the ground
and the earth, pregnant with joy,
gave birth to infinite blossoms.
The cheering spread up to Heaven!
The moon glanced amazed at the stars.
Sources: Rumi’s Little Book of Love: 150 Poems That Speak to the Heart. Maryam Mafi and Azima Melita Kolin, editors. Charlottesville: Hampton Roads, 2009.
Walker, Barbara G. Barbara Walker Tarot. U.S. Games Systems, Inc., 1986.