6. The Lovers

6. The LoversThe Lovers (VI) (in older tarots Love) is the sixth trump or Major Arcana card in traditional Tarot decks.

Iconography

The lovers are blessed and protected by the angel in the clouds above them, and the sun shines brightly overhead, bringing warmth and security. The earth at their feet is green and fertile and suggests life and happiness. The snake in the fruit laden tree behind the woman suggests the story of Adam and Eve, the fall of humanity from grace, and the temptations of the world.

Interpretation

This card combines two topics. It indicates a great experience in love, yet also presents us with the perception that this step is connected with a necessary decision: the renunciation of the previous framework of life (the parental home, the bachelor existence, the many flirtations) and the clear avowal of one love. Only this step will lead to the overwhelming experience shown by the Lovers. This card therefore used to be called The Decision. It can also indicate necessary decisions that have little or nothing to do with love. In such cases, it means that we must decide with our whole heart, without rancor, and without keeping an escape route open. Which of the two themes this card emphasizes can only be determined according to the background of the question asked. In any case, it means the great unconditional “yes.”

Symbolism

The Lovers is associated through its cross sum (the sum of the digits) with The Devil, Key 15. He is often the source of the impulse, or that thing inside of us that responds to it. The Devil's energy is absolutely necessary, absolutely deadly. The purple cloak on the angel represents royalty, a symbol of how important communication is. The five apples on the tree behind the woman represent the five senses, indicating how important sensual romance is to the woman. The serpent is also a symbol of the senses. The flames behind the man represent the flames of passion, indicating the primary concern of the man. There are twelve flames, representing the twelve zodiac signs, the symbol of time and eternity. The man looks to the woman, who looks to the angel, indicating the path of the conscious to the subconscious to the superconscious, or from physical desire to emotional needs to spiritual concerns. The mountain is a phallic symbol, while the water is a feminine symbol, indicating balance between the two. The number 6 represents the balance of opposites.
Hajo Banzhaf suggests that if the Major Arcana is seen as a map of the Sun's circuit of the Sky, The Lovers is high noon. Consciousness is at its fullest. Frequently, cards show the Sun in the position of noon. Two trees, bearing fruit and flame, represent the intoxication of the material world.

Reading

Its appearance in a spread indicates some decision about an existing relationship, a temptation of the heart, or a choice of potential partners. Often an aspect of the Querent's life will have to be sacrificed; a bachelor(ette)'s lifestyle may be sacrificed and a relationship gained (or vice versa), or one potential partner may be chosen while another is turned down. Whatever the choice, it should not be made lightly, as the ramifications will be lasting. More generally, the Lovers can represent the attractive force that draws any two entities together in a relationship – whether people, ideas, events, movements or groups.

In some decks, the Lovers shows a man torn between two women – a virgin and a temptress. This rather old-fashioned triangle symbolizes the larger dilemmas we face when we are tempted between right and wrong. When this card appears, you are being told to trust you instincts, to choose this career, challenge, person or thing you're so strongly drawn to, no matter how scary, how difficult, irrational or troublesome – without it, you will never be wholly you. Following your own path can mean going against those who are urging you in a direction that is wrong for you.

In some circumstances, the Lovers reversed can indicate that you are refusing to take responsibility for the consequences of your own actions. You made a hasty choice based purely on the desire for instant gratification and you are now trying to lay the blame on others or on fate.
The Lovers reversed may also reflect that the feelings within a relationship are not mutual. You may feel that a once close union is starting to fragment and break down. One person in the partnership may have stronger feelings than the other and is more emotionally involved.

Associations

The Lovers is associated with the star sign Gemini, and indeed is also known as The Twins in some decks. Other associations are with Air and Mercury. The Angel stands for Raphael, who is emblematic of Mercury and Air, planet and element of Gemini. Gemini is the communications sign.

Opposing cards

Hierophant – established beliefs
Hermit – being alone, not relating, less sexuality
Five of Cups – loss in relationships
Three of Swords – rejection, separation

Reinforcing cards

Empress – sexual fulfillment, pleasure
Two of Cups – union, marriage, connection
Nine of Cups – sexual pleasure
Ten of Cups – family relationships, bonding
Ten of Pentacles – permanent unions, family ties

Alternative decks

In the Vikings Tarot, this card shows Frigg with her golden sandals standing between the brothers Vili and Ve.
In the X/1999 Tarot version made by CLAMP, The Lovers is represented by Kotori Monou.
In the Mythic Tarot deck, the Lovers is depicted by the Judgment of Paris, who chose Aphrodite (the goddess of Love), who in turn awarded Paris the most beautiful woman, Helen, which began the Trojan War.

Quote

I saw a blooming garden in a green valley, surrounded by soft blue hills.
In the garden I saw a Man and a Woman naked and beautiful. They loved each other and their Love was their service to the Great Conception, a prayer and a sacrifice; through It they communed with God, through It they received the highest revelations; in Its light the deepest truths came to them; the magic world opened its gate; elves, undines, sylphs and gnomes came openly to them; the three kingdoms of nature, the mineral, plant and animal, and the four elements–fire, water, air and earth-served them.

Through their Love they saw the mystery of the world's equilibrium, and that they themselves were a symbol and expression of this balance. Two triangles united in them into a six-pointed star. Two magnets melted into an ellipsis. They were two. The third was the Unknown Future. The three made One.

I saw the woman looking out upon the world as though enraptured with its beauty. And from the tree on which ripened golden fruit I saw a serpent creep.[paragraph continues]
p. 40
It whispered in the woman's ear, and I saw her listening, smiling at first suspiciously, then with curiosity which merged into joy. Then I saw her speak to the man. I noticed that he seemed to admire only her and smiled with an expression of joy and sympathy at all she told him.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
“This picture you see, is a picture of temptation and fall”, said the voice. “What constitutes the Fall? Do you understand its nature”?
“Life is so good”, I said, “and the world so beautiful, and this man and woman wanted to believe in the reality of the world and of themselves. They wanted to forget service and take from the world what it can give. So they made a distinction between themselves and the world. They said, 'We are here, the world is there'. And the world separated from them and became hostile.”

“Yes”, said the Voice, this is true. “The everlasting mistake with men is that they see the fall in love. But Love is not a fall, it is a soaring above an abyss. And the higher the flight, the more beautiful and alluring appears the earth. But that wisdom, which crawls on earth, advises belief in the earth and in the present. This is the Temptation. And the man and woman yielded to it. They dropped from the eternal realms and submitted to time and death. The balance was disturbed. The fairyland was closed upon them. The elves, undines, sylphs and gnomes became invisible.
p. 41

The Face of God ceased to reveal Itself to them, and all things appeared upside down.
“This Fall, this first 'sin of man', repeats itself perpetually, because man continues to believe in his separateness and in the Present. And only by means of great suffering can he liberate himself from the control of time and return to Eternity–leave darkness and return to Light”. The Symbolism of the Tarot by P D. Ouspensky (1913)

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