Tarot: The Lovers

The Lovers

Tarot: The Lovers

The Lovers card is a symbolic portrayal of duality, choice, and the power of relationships in a larger sense. This card appears when you are at an important crossroads in your life. On a romantic level this card may represent a choice between potential partners. It can also mean you have approached an important moment of resolution within your relationship. A decision to leave your current partnership in order to gain freedom or to strengthen your intimacy through renewed commitment.

In a spiritual sense, this card may mean choosing between a longer path of spiritual growth or the shorter path to gratification of the senses. On a cosmic level, the sixth card of the Major Arcana represents choosing between two opposing forces and indicates the time has come for you to decide which path you will take. 

Major Arcana Symbolism

Tarot Card NameThe Lovers
Traditional Card ImageryA man, a woman, and an angel; a man and two women; a person in the garden of Eden
Traditional SymbolismThe soul, attraction, duality, choice, sexuality, crossroads, a relationship
Card NumberVI, 6
Classical ElementAir
Influencing ElementAether / Akasha
Traditional Upright MeaningRelationships in a larger sense, duality, love, important choices, partnerships, values alignment, being at a crossroads, conscious connections, togetherness, contracts, union
Traditional Reversed MeaningLoss of balance, conflicting beliefs, disharmony, parting ways, leaving a partnership, out-of-sync, evaluate letting go and moving on, separation, misalignment of values, lack of accountability for one’s own decisions
Archetype In NatureAdam and Eve (Yin and Yang) in their original harmonious relationship with the natural world
ChakraThroat
Astrological CorrespondenceGemini, Mercury
Yes or NoYes
Crystals and StonesLight-colored Lapis Lazuli, Angelite, Blue Calcite, Sodalite, Azurite, Star Sapphire, Celestine, Dumortierite, Aquamarine, Blue Topaz, Rose Quartz, Blue Kyanite, Hawk’s Eye, Jeremejevite, Blue Akoya Pearls, Labradorite, Blue Lace Agate, Apatite, Blue Flash Moonstone, Sapphirine, Blue Spinel, Turquoise, Chrysocolla, Amazonite
Tarot: The Lovers

Allegory of The Lovers

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.

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. 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)

The Lovers (VI)

The Lovers (VI)

The symbolism of The Lovers has undergone many variations throughout history. In the eighteenth century form, this card was a depiction of married life. A father and mother, with their child placed between them, and the pagan Cupid above. The Cupid is of love beginning rather than of love in its fulness, guarding the fruit thereof. The card is said to have been a symbol of conjugal faith. The figures were also believed to have signified Truth, Honor and Love. The card has these qualities but also contains other and higher aspects.

The figures suggest youth, virginity, innocence and love before it is contaminated by gross material desire. This is the card of human love, truth and the life. It replaces, the old card of “marriage” and or the historical image depicting a man caught between vice and virtue. In a very high sense, the card is a mystery of the Covenant. The woman signifies an attraction towards the sensitive life.

This card contains concept of the Fall of Man. However, the woman represents a Secret Law of the Providence; the protective care of God or of nature as a spiritual power, rather than a willing and conscious temptress. It is through her lapse in focus that man shall arise, ultimately, and only by her can he complete himself. The Lovers card symbolizes the great mystery of womanhood.

-Modern Translation of The Pictorial Key to the Tarot by A.E. Waite (1910)

The Lovers Imagery

The Lovers card shows a great winged figure, beneath the sun’s zenith with arms extended, casting down it’s influences over humanity. In the foreground are two human figures. Unveiled before each other, the figures are male and female, representing Adam and Eve when they first occupied the paradise of the earthly body. Behind the man is the Tree of Life, bearing twelve fruits. Behind the woman is the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil ; the serpent is twining round it.

-Modern Translation of The Pictorial Key to the Tarot by A.E. Waite (1910)

The Lovers Meaning

The Lovers Meaning

A beardless youth (our Juggler of the 1st card), but without his hat, is standing motionless in the angle where two roads meet. His arms form a diagonal cross upon his breast. Here the man is not one of the Initiates. He does not know how to direct the magnetic currents of the Astral Light; he is therefore plunged in the antagonism of the different ideas which he cannot master.

Two women, one on his right, the other on his left, each with one hand upon his shoulder, point to the two roads. The woman on the right has a circle of gold upon her head, the one on the left is disheveled and crowned with vine leaves. The two arms of the Juggler, expressing the positive and negative, the two columns of the temple of Isis, expressing necessity and liberty, are here personified by the two women, who represent Vice and Virtue.

The future of the young man depends upon the road which he chooses, whether he becomes one of the Initiates, (The Mage), or the rash thunder-stricken personage (The Tower). The spirit of Justice floats above this group in a radiant halo; he bends his bow and aims the arrow of Punishment at the personification of Vice.

A profound symbol indicating that if man chooses the path of Virtue he will not be left unaided. Divine protection will assist him to overcome vice. In short, this hieroglyphic expresses the struggle between the passions and conscience, the antagonism of ideas. But this antagonism is also the most powerful natural producer that exists in the world, when it resolves itself into LOVE, which attracts the opposing forces and unites them for ever.

-Modern Translation of The Tarot of The Bohemians by Papus (1892)

Significations The Lovers

  • Equilibrium Between Will and Intelligence = Beauty (Characteristic of the Holy Spirit)
  • Equilibrium Between Power and Authority = Love (Characteristic of Humanity), Charity
  • Equilibrium Between the Universal Soul and the Universal Life = The Universal Attraction, Universal Love

-Tarot of The Bohemians by Papus (1892)

The Lovers Card

The Lovers Card

The Meaning of the Lovers Card Throughout History

The Tarot deck is a beautiful synthesis of esoteric thought and archetypal imagery. The journey of the deck, shaped by the events and values of each era, has continued to evolve and take on new significance as it adapts to a larger cultural story. Often a tarot card will have a variety of names and meanings. Exploring the historical interpretations of each card will create a deeper understanding of this powerful method for divination and self-discovery.

Various Names for the Lovers Card

Tarot de Marseille (1650)The Lovers
Court de Gébelin (1781)The Lovers
Etteilla (1783)Marriage /Union
Paul Christian (1870)The Two Ways
Golden Dawn (1888)The Children of the Voice, The Oracle of the Mighty Gods
Papus (1892)The Lovers
Rider-Waite (1910)The Lovers
Thoth (1943)The Lovers
The Children of the Voice, The Oracle of the Mighty Gods

Card VI: The Lovers

This is usually described as representing Man between Vice and Virtue, while a winged genius threatens Vice with his dart. It is usually considered to mean Proof or Trial; but I am inclined to suggest Wise Disposition as its signification.

Upright: Wise Dispositions, Proof, Trials Surmounted
Reversed: Unwise Plans, Failure when put to the test

-The Tarot by S.L. MacGregor Mathers (1888)

Support Independent Bookstores With These Tarot Selections

Support Independent Bookstores With These Tarot Selections

Bookshop is an online bookstore with a mission to financially support local, independent bookstores. Their mission aims to strengthen the fragile ecosystem and keep local bookstores an integral part of our culture and communities. We have put together a collection of some of our favorite Tarot items. The deep symbolism of the Tarot can be used to access a wellspring of inner wisdom and guidance. This method of divination is also an incredible tool for accessing your own powerful intuition.

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The Pictorial Key to the Tarot

The Lovers (VI) - The Illustrated Key to the Tarot published 1918, public domain
The Lovers (VI) – The Illustrated Key to the Tarot published 1918, public domain

This guide by Arthur Edward Waite, the designer of the most widely known Tarot deck and distinguished scholar of the Kabbalah, is the essential Tarot reference. The pictorial key contains a detailed description of each card in the celebrated 78-card Rider-Waite Tarot deck, along with regular and reversed meanings. Contents describe symbols and secret tradition, ancient Celtic methods of divination, and wonderful illustrations of each Tarot card. This book is the perfect complement to old-style fortune telling and also serves to make the Tarot entirely accessible to modern-day readers. The Pictorial Key to the Tarot is the classic guide to the Rider-Waite deck and to Tarot symbolism in general.

Harmonious Tarot

The Lovers (VI) - Harmonious Tarot by Walter Crane and Earnest Fitzpatrick © 2005 Lo Scarabeo srl. All rights reserved, used by permission.
The Lovers (VI) – Harmonious Tarot by Walter Crane and Earnest Fitzpatrick © 2005 Lo Scarabeo srl. All rights reserved, used by permission.

The mythical world of Lady Victoria Westwood will enchant you with it’s charming feel of a hand-painted tea cup or maidens fanning a goddess. The borders of the Harmonious Tarot show typical Victorian decorative flowers, and the backs are intense, mirrored mazes like rugs or wall hangings that are ideal as focal points for meditation and pathworking. It’s subtlety and whimsy makes this deck ideal to bring forth new insights and realizations. Like the Victorians, it’s depth is often more than is apparent on the surface.

Crystal Tarot

The Lovers (VI) - Crystal Tarot by Elisabetta Tervisan © 2001 Lo Scarabeo srl. All rights reserved, used by permission.
The Lovers (VI) – Crystal Tarot by Elisabetta Tervisan © 2001 Lo Scarabeo srl. All rights reserved, used by permission.

As rich and complex as life itself, the Crystal Tarot blends the look of stained glass with art nouveau style to gracious effect. The use of patterns within patterns gives depth to the traditional pictures of the Tarot. Influenced by both the Rider-Waite and Thoth Tarot decks, this modern Tarot is an exquisite blend of the old and the new. The familiar images are all there, while the details–executed in brilliant and unusual colors–invite viewers to linger, to search, to make sure they miss nothing–an effective trait in a tool of self-examination.

How will you Harness The Transformative Power of The Tarot?

We invite you to walk into a cosmic narrative in which we are all a unique element in each other’s story. Humanity has long used sacred tools for awakening the soul and illuminating our path toward enlightenment. The Tarot is simply an instrument. These cards amplify your inner wisdom and empower your highest truth.

What aspects of The Tarot can serve you as you walk through your own Mystic Doorway?

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What you have read is only the beginning…

Mystic Doorway is always gaining new insight into the rich symbolism of Tarot. We are looking forward to sharing with you as we continue to expand our knowledge of this divinatory tool. Check back with us soon to see what we’ve added to our Library.