The sixth card of the major arcana, The Lovers is a colourful and busy card. A man and woman are depicted naked in a landscape. Behind the woman is an apple tree with a snake or serpent coiled around it. Behind the man is a tree of flames, the total flames being 12. In the distance is a mountain. The upper half of the card depicts an angel in a the sun. In the card, the woman is depicted looking upwards towards the angel.
The obvious meaning in the Lovers is of course, love. Love in all its forms – unity, partnership, togetherness. Both man and woman are naked before each other, neither ashamed nor attempting to cover their natural beauty. Above them, the angel, or perhaps Cupid, does not seek to punish them or cover them for their nakedness or past transgressions, as hinted at by the serpent in the tree. The gesturing of the angel suggests that all is well and (s)he blesses the lovers below. Indeed, the serpent barely registers with the angel – surely if the Serpent was the evil portrayed widely, the angel would smite him instantly? But no, love is the name of this card and love is the guiding force of this card.
The sun behind the angel signifies that (s)he comes from a higher power. Love must ultimately count as the most divine emotion man can have. All our actions can be boiled down to love or hate. We can operate in life from a position of love or a position of hate and all our other emotions – fear, happiness, sadness, grief, joy and loneliness all derive from these two basic emotions. This card encourages us to move with divine love for everything around us. We need not fear (hate) challenges, our nakedness (vulnerability), serpents, angels nor the world around us. Through love, we will conquer all.
On a deeper level, the Lovers is the card after The Hierophant. The Hierophant is a phoney power, it offers nothing but material wealth and holds no real divine connection. In contrast, The High Priestess (third card of the Tarot) guarded the entrance to the divine world and higher spiritual understanding. The Lovers is a continuation of the High Priestess – our natural state is divine, we do not need artificial, man made structures to commune with angels or god. Our blessings come to us in our everyday life – not via specific buildings, men or rituals. When we act out of love, the angels and god(s) bless us. The twelve flames on the tree behind the man symbolise the signs of the zodiac or on a wider scale, our universe. Everything is natural, everything is blessed and when we understand love in its entirety, everything is good.
The 12 flames divided by two lovers also gives us 6 – the number of this card. In Unity, can we find completeness. When we find a soul mate, we feel completed. When we realise that we are not separate from divine love, but a part of it, we find completeness. We do not exist in isolation and the lessons of love in this life guide us towards understanding the ultimate connection anyone can have – union with the Divine, union with a universal consciousness that permeates all things. It is this ultimate form of love, of union, that is the metaphysical interpretation of The Lovers.
In readings, The Lovers encourages us to operate from a position of love. It is a time of joint enterprise, in relationships, work and projects. We will find things easier if we share our journey and share the journey of others. Projects and deadlines will become manageable if we tackle them as a group.
We should take time to understand that working with others can be a blessing that lightens the load and also leads to new learning and understanding. Perhaps we need to practise love in our work, being patient with others and open to their suggestions. If we can approach the day with the intention of just being kind to others, we are heeding the lesson of The Lovers. This type of interaction, where we recognise that we are Divine Love and others also are Divine Love, opens up our world and everyone elses.
The Lovers Reversed:
The Lovers reversed warns us that we are going it alone when the possibility of help lies all around us. We may be greedy, jealous or afraid of working within a group but there is much to learn from everyone around us.
We may also be ignoring our relationships and turning away from all that is good and natural in our lives. Artificial crutches or supports (money, material goods, fleeting highs) may be causing us to forget that true happiness comes not from the things in our lives but the people who share our lives. True happiness comes from acting out of love. When we are aligned with love, when we are aligned with our true purpose, we find true happiness.
I like to think that this card is a call to remember that we are most blessed when we are at one with nature and the earth and all that it contains – our friends, family, strangers, lovers, mother earth and gods. If you are seeking guidance on how to proceed, the Lovers reversed urges us to pause, to look within us as to what feels right – for when we act with what feels right, we act from a position of love.
Love as depicted in The Lovers is a blessing. It is a divine force that aligns us with our truest selves. When The Lovers appears reversed, perhaps it is time to sit still for a while and take a look at how we can practise love in our everyday lives, both within ourselves and with others.