February is the month of Lovers. Well, it’s the month of Valentine’s Day, and for a tarot reader, that means being inundated with questions about couplings. Does he love me? Will she marry me? Will we end up together? What kind of love will I find? What kind of love do I need? How do I attract a lover? I don’t mind answering these kinds of questions; the desire to find and maintain fulfilling love-relationships is one of the human experiences that we all share in common. It’s so big in our lives, that the Major Arcana of the tarot has a card devoted specifically to it.
The Lovers card in a tarot deck is the sixth card in the Major Arcana. In the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot, which is arguably the most common tarot in the Western world, the card is illustrated with the archangel Raphael bestowing a blessing of prosperity over a nude couple (presumably Adam and Eve). Behind the woman is the Tree of knowledge of Good and Evil and the snake – which persuades the female to choose her own destiny. Behind the male is the Tree of Life, set aflame with twelve leaves, which represent the signs of the Zodiac – which he uses to make informed decisions. The woman looks to the angel for divine inspiration, while the man looks to the woman. They are partners, two halves of a whole, but they play very different roles in their relationship. The card is commonly illustrated with two or more figures, embracing or reaching out to each other. Some decks include the third figure (or snake) to introduce the aspect of choice in union – that is to say, the innovators of the tarot understood that the relationships that we enter into are by choice, and that our choices have the power to hurt others.
When the Lovers card comes up in a reading, it can be interpreted as an external relationship – one that is either romantic or platonic, depending on the context of the card in the reading – or it can refer to dualities within the sitter (the person whose cards are being read). Often the card refers to two opposing forces at work operating within our lives and the card directly speaks to our interactions with other people.
I have been long fascinated with the masculine/feminine duality/opposites aspects of The Lovers card. In the tarot, “masculine” cards tends to exert outward influence on their environments. They deal in the conscious, practical, the mundane, and the theoretical. While “feminine” cards in a tarot focus on the unconscious, internal, intuitive, emotional, whimsical or dream realm and the possible. Both of these forces are present on this one card.
The take away lesson of The Lovers card though, is that balance is needed in order to achieve harmony. For example, we fall in love based on feelings, but we enter into relationships consciously. Relationships can be messy, hurtful, or divinely blissful – but if they’re going to be successful, they come with the understanding that there’s compromises and choices to be made and maintain. We can embrace the differences between us and be lovers, or we can ignore or fight about it. And everyone knows that in order to love fully and in a way that will satisfy the emotional needs of any other person, we must first learn to love ourselves.
Let’s spend some time examining the dualities we find within ourselves and in our interactions with others. Try these exercises:
1. Ask yourself: if I were a pack of tarot cards, which aspects of me would be “masculine” cards? Which aspects of me would be “feminine” cards? For example, I tend to dominate in personal relationships, but I have a very deep, strong, intuitive well that I draw from when I need to make important decisions.
2. What is your intuitive sense about what kind of energy you will need to invite into your life in order to bring balance to your life right now? Look through a tarot deck and find a card that you feel is representative of that energy and use it as a jumping off point for journaling or meditation.
3. Imagine yourself if your perfect relationship. What do you bring to the table? What does your ideal partner bring to the table? How do you two balance each other out? What compromises does the balance require? What choices do you need to consciously make in order for the relationship to work? Try this five-card spread when working with the tarot to discern the nature of personal relationships:
1. the signifier (choose this card intentionally to describe the nature of the relationship)
2. Person A – what is conscious | 3. Person B – what is conscious
4. Person A – what is unconscious | 5. Person B – what is unconscious
Love should be cultivated in all corners of our lives – romantically, platonically and within ourselves. While love may be based in what we cannot understand (the unconscious), true, lasting and satisfying relationships are formed when we carefully cultivate an understanding and acceptance of the true nature of ourselves and others. Using the tarot is one way to arrive at that kind of understanding.
If you have questions or get stuck with your interpretations, feel free to leave a comment here, on facebook or send me an email!