VI - The Lovers
A seemingly straightforward card, The Lovers seems to be all about coupling, love, and tender feelings. The original meaning of the card, however, focused on making a choice between something easy and pleasurable and a virtuous, higher calling. Combine this with the modern interpretation and we get love and the coming together of two elements as a way to propel us to the next level. Love as a step towards spiritual oneness, enlightenment, or self-actualization.
After a parade of single characters, The Lovers shows us what happens when we join complementary elements in a union. We don’t have to limit ourselves to romance – we are dealing with the realm of symbols here, and in tarot The Lovers can refer to any joining of forces. This can be between people, personality traits, and aspects of our lives. It’s a nice and refreshing concept to see in the deck after so many dualistic archetypes.
The Lovers is not a chaste card, though, and passion is required to meld the two characters depicted. It’s a nod to the transformative power of sexuality and its potential to embody magic. Whether a spark is sexual or simply passionate in a general sense, it is necessary to start any true transformation, so The Lovers can deal explicitly with sexuality or refer to larger feelings of infatuation. Because of this it deals more with bodily sensations – just feeling something is right, actual sensations of pleasure – than intellectual or rational understanding. This card invites us to look at how we feel inspired to bring something closer to us.
The symbolic language of the tarot uses the binary Western concept of two genders to express certain traits. I like to look at this as using the lowest common denominator to reach the most people. Fortunately or unfortunately, we all have a working knowledge of this division. As we’ve seen, the single cards divide up traits by gender. The Magician is active and creates, the High Priestess is passive and intuits. Of course, this is just scratching the surface of these cards, and similarly, we need not limit ourselves to our interpretations. I choose to look at The Lovers as a symbolic card, interpreting their assigned sex as metaphorical and not literal.
The Lovers does not have to literally involve a commitment between two people. It can also refer to an individual’s personal journey. In this case, The Lovers indicates a person’s acceptance of a part of themselves. Most often, this card shows up when people are integrating parts of their personality they once held at a distance. It can be a beautiful representation of achieving wholeness and self-love.
In readings, The Lovers refers to any passionate coming together that enhances our lives. Compare this to The Devil, that shows union and attachment resulting in unhealthy constraint and stagnation. Inspiration, inquiry, and the beginning of a new partnership all come up in The Lovers, as well as classic romance and attraction. In this case, see The Lovers as a turning point. Either it can refer to a healthy, expansive partnership or one with the potential to hold one or both people back. Overall, however, it has a positive connotation. As always, look at the other cards in the reading for clarification.
Love, romance, union, partnership, passion, pure-heartedness, enthusiasm, attraction, instinct, pleasure, good intentions, blessing, infatuation, optimism
Romantic partnership, meeting a kindred spirit, marriage, new relationships, engagement, sexual attraction, committing to self-care, seeing another person’s higher self, making a commitment with another, positive business or creative partnership, starting a meaningful business or project, opening up to joy and pleasure
Lively, vivacious, engaged, complimentary, attractive, well-meaning, passionate, romantic, inspired, warm, people-oriented, ready for the next step, good relationship with body, enthusiastic, supportive
In love with love, overly focused on pleasure, decadent, dependent, impractical, dreamy