The desire for love is a universal one; it shows up in nearly every reading I have ever done, a fact that emphasizes the centrality of human relationships in health and well-being. Everyone wants to see The Lovers card come up in their readings. People commonly ask, “Will I meet someone soon?” “Is this person The One?” “When will I find love?” “How is my relationship?” In fact, the desire for love is so primal that I have seen the sheer force of desire influence readings, steering them away from the truth, towards merely reflecting the querent’s overwhelming desire to fall (or stay) in love.
This awe-inspiring drive can cause us to be less than rational, inspiring incredible hopes that illicit lovers will leave their spouses to be with us, constant suspicions that a faithful person is cheating, dreams of abusive partners realizing the errors of their ways and changing overnight, even fantasies of people falling madly in love with us in spite of the fact that they have no idea who we are! I’ve seen each of these during tarot consultations, and many more. It’s easy to roll our eyes and laugh at the silliness of it all, but be warned: the slings and arrows of love and heartache catch us all at some point or another—usually many times throughout life.
Yet, The Lovers card represents so much more than just a romantic relationship or a flourishing sex life. The Lovers card represents relating in all its forms: all kinds of love, all kinds of partnerships, all kinds of dualities. This card is Gemini—the twins Castor and Pollux of Greek mythology, yin and yang, sibling deities Apollo and Diana, male and female, black and white. While clients are often tempted to believe that The Lovers card represents purely lovey-dovey-squishy romance, the card can indicate marriage, an affair, a business partnership, or even a sibling rivalry, depending on the context of the question and the cards that surround it.
The point of The Lovers card is this: in any relationship that is healthy and functioning, 1) both part(ner)s have to be equal, and 2) they must be equally special. That power and control must be balanced between the two people is (hopefully) the obvious piece of the equation. The less frequently noted piece is that each partner must be held in equal esteem and value—neither person should be more important, more valuable, or more desirable than the other.
In romantic terms, The Lovers represents a relationship in which neither party takes precedent over the other, and both parties prize their beloved beyond measure. Furthermore, each partner is able to love with this kind of depth and intensity because they look at their beloved and see themselves reflected back to them through their beloved’s humanity. Each partner knows that both people deserve to love and be loved. It is a perfect example of the Sanskrit blessing Namaste: “the divine in me recognizes the divine in you.”
On the other hand, when The Lovers card is ill-aspected, it can represent all kinds of disasters that occur in relationships, such as abuse, control, infidelity, immaturity, sexual issues, and insecurity.
As The Lovers are card VI in the major arcana, the sixes in the minor arcana support The Lovers by illustrating the ingredients of any healthy relationship: intellectual honesty (6 of Swords), the desire for win-win outcomes (6 of Wands), a willingness to engage in fun, pleasure, and healing (6 of Cups), and the ability to work towards success (6 of Disks). The presence, absence, and position of these cards appearing in a reading can tell us much about where the relationship needs support or adjustment.
Outside of romantic interpretations, The Lovers can indicate: an important decision that establishes independence; adolescence; a difficult choice between two desirable options; a commitment of some kind; the primacy of a particular relationship or partnership in a person’s life; and the life-force energy created by the synergy of relating. Ways in which people, situations, and paths are different, yet alike, are highlighted. After all, every pair of seeming opposites is but both sides of the same coin.