I know quite a few passionate lovers of Tarot and several have risen to a challenge set out by Oephebia to celebrate international Tarot Day 2018. Participants have been allocated a random card and asked to investigate it and write about its meaning, symbolism, associations and anything else that we can dig up.
I have been assigned The Lovers, rather aptly for a Gemini such as myself, so there you have your first correspondence: the Lovers is traditionally associated with the star sign of Gemini. Since both duality and oneness are associated with twins, and the mythology of Castor and Pollux, the twins on which the sign is based, is fraught with contradiction and inconsistency*, it is hardly surprising that this card’s interpretation can vary widely.
*Depending on the source, Castor and Pollux are immortals, demigods…except in the myths where they are mortals…or semi-immortal, in the version where Pollux (Zeus’ son and therefore immortal) shares his immortality with Castor, his twin fathered by a mortal (Tyndareus, a Spartan king).
The card itself has nothing to do with Castor and Pollux, of course, and traditional RWS (Rider Waite Smith) imagery is of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, complete with apple tree, snake and watchful angel. Angels aren’t really my thing, but a quick trawl of the ever-obliging interweb, suggests this is the archangel Raphael.
In terms of meanings, the Lovers are most obviously associated by many with relationships, love affairs, soulmates, sexuality and I’ve even seen a suggestion of threesomes, due to the presence of three “people” in the card. Personally, I think that the threesome is stretching things somewhat, but with Tarot, never say never! Archangel Raphael, if it is indeed he, is the patron of happy meetings, marriage and lovers, but also blindness*, insanity and mental illness. Make of that what you will.
*In the words of the song (and this is an excellent version):
Love is blindness
I don’t want to see
Won’t you wrap the night
Oh my heart
Love is blindness
Waite himself, in his Pictorial Key to the Tarot, has this to say:
The sun shines in the zenith, and beneath is a great winged figure with arms extended, pouring down influences. In the foreground are two human figures, male and female, unveiled before each other, as if Adam and Eve when they first occupied the paradise of the earthly body. Behind the man is the Tree of Life, bearing twelve fruits, and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is behind the woman; the serpent is twining round it. The figures suggest youth, virginity, innocence and love before it is contaminated by gross material desire. This is in all simplicity the card of human love, here exhibited as part of the way, the truth and the life. It replaces, by recourse to first principles, the old card of marriage, which I have described previously, and the later follies which depicted man between vice and virtue.
So the man himself cites love and marriage, but I think there is a lot more to it. The Pictorial Key is a very brief description of the cards and Waite, if you’ll pardon the pun, rather played his cards close to his chest and didn’t give much away to the uninitiated masses.
My own interpretations lean more towards the Lovers representing difficult life choices to be made, dichotomy and self-discovery, since the 2 of Cups has the hearts and flowers aspect quite adequately covered IMO. Let’s face it, serious relationships and marriage aren’t always easy and there’s a lot more to it than most people realise when they start down that particular path. Life and especially relationships, are full of dilemmas and difficult choices. Let’s face it, we’ve all been at the Should I Stay Or Should I Go stage at some point in a relationship.
Oh dear, I hadn’t meant for this post to have a musical theme at all, it just happened (honest!)
Musical digression aside, I will briefly mention the similarities I have noticed between The Lovers and Devil cards in RWS. I make no comment on the nature of relationships (I have been quite happy in mine for about quarter of a century), it is merely an observation and since the Devil is not the card under investigation in this post, draw your own conclusions (bondage, obsession, powerlessness, sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, perhaps )
Interestingly, the Lover is VI, or 6, and the Devil is XV (15, or 1+5, which is also 6).
Returning to The Lovers card, the thing that stands out for me in the RWS Lovers is the ruddy great mountain between them!
Thus, my own Lovers card emphasises the gulf between the sexes, but also the potential to find common ground where there is a willingness to do so. Its just a matter of choice and moving in the right direction.
The photograph was taken at an aerial performance of The Tiger Bride, Angela Carter’s take on the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale. The couple, (the tiger/beast and his unwilling bride), are getting the measure of one another, moving around the sphere, sometimes closer, sometimes further apart, sometimes wondering which way to go. In the story, the bride/beauty runs away, but then returns having realised that she has come to love the tiger/beast.
We all experience situations not of our making (and the Majors are all about what Life thrusts upon us), what is important is how we choose to deal with them and it is the need to take control of those choices that The Lovers card represents for me. After all, if we don’t make the choice, life will move forward regardless, taking the choice out of our hands and we may not like where we end up. We may not always make the right choice, but at least it was our choice. Had the bride had not chosen to run away, would she have simply have continued full of resentment at being sold into at the relationship? By running, she realised what she had lost and then chose to return, so whichever way you look at it, she was (re)entering the relationship by her choice. You see, taking control of choices matters, as does the aforementioned self-discovery and trying to bridge the gap, cross that mountain.
So, there you have it. I could probably go on…and on, but I think I will leave it there. I hope you have enjoyed my ramblings.
Finally, any old Goths amongst you will probably have had a ear worm since reading the title of this post. I make no apologies as it’s a great song and, inadvertently, references another tarot card: “…the passion of Lovers is for Death, said she…” 😀
Addendum: I forgot to include correspondences for “crystals” and herbs/oils, although these things are extremely subjective and will vary hugely according to which source you alight upon. So, pick your own favourite rocks, herbs and oils that work for you as broadly corresponding to the element of Air, the sign of Gemini, or the planet Mercury. There will be many to choose from!