Introduction To The Major Arcana, Part 7: The Lovers

The Lovers have come to take on a purely romantic meaning in a lot of modern Tarot readings. It was not always this way. Once upon a time, the Lovers meant something very different. The original, primordial energy of this card lies in a duality of choices. Specifically, fulfillment against distraction along one axis, but also stagnation versus growth along another. The aim is to make the best choice to gain both fulfillment and growth, without stagnating or becoming distracted. In no place is this more evident than in romance. In romance, especially serious romance leading to marriage, this card represents a crossroads that can change a person’s life forever. The fundamental message of the Lovers is that of paring things down to your fundamental values. Your basic, most primal drives must be clearly examined along with your deepest convictions in order to make the right choice. Your values are paramount here, but we are not always conscious of what our values are.

The picture on the Lovers is that of Adam and Eve. Eve stands to the left under the Biblical Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil from the book of Genesis. Adam stands on the right.

The Upright Lovers represents a real, soul-melding connection. Something that goes beyond momentary pleasure and transient good feelings and crushes. It may or may not be a lifelong relationship, but it is something serious, certainly something that you ought to sit up and pay attention to.

The Reversed Lovers represents the opposite: a very dangerous choice, false love, unrequited love, two bad options. Or, there is a third, better option, but you cannot see it because your mindset is blinkered right now.

In a past-present-future spread, the Lovers represents the following:

  1. As past, the Lovers represents a binary decision made that founded your present situation. It was most likely romantic, but it could have been any of the binary value-laden decisions that I described earlier. The reversed Lovers in this position indicate that a wrong or destructive choice has been made in the past, and that you are currently living out that problem.
  2. As present, the Lovers means that you are at a crossroads in your life right now. The choice you make at this juncture will have a strong effect on your life for years to come, so choose wisely! The reversed Lovers in this position means the same thing, but with an added element of peril. You are in great danger if you make the wrong choice. Moreover, the wrong choice is very easy to make here. Beware!
  3. As future, the Lovers means that you will soon be faced with a choice, and your present is leading up to that choice, contains the seeds of that choice. In order to make the right decision here, you must think carefully about your values. The reversed Lovers in this position has a special meaning: the choices you make now can easily set you up for a very tough choice in the future. Think hard on how you can see it coming and forestall it. What could be coming down the pipe?

Next time, we’ll have a look at one of the more dramatic of the major arcana: Judgment.

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