The Lovers

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For other uses, see The Lovers (disambiguation).

The Lovers (VI) is the sixth trump or Major Arcana card in most traditional Tarot decks. It is used in game playing as well as in divination.

drawing by Robert M. Place


In some traditions, the Lovers represent relationships and choices. 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.

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, Mercury, and the Hebrew letter ז (Zayin).

A. E. Waite was a key figure in the development of modern Tarot interpretations. (Wood, 1998) However not all interpretations follow his theology. All Tarot decks may have slightly different meanings, and different interpretations of cards may be presented by different users of the cards.

Some frequent keywords used by tarot readers include:

  • Love relationship — Union — Passion — Sexuality
  • Pleasure — Humanism — Desire — Personal beliefs
  • Individual values — Physical attraction — Connection
  • Affinity — Bonding — Romance — Heart

Following the Marseilles Tradition, also there are:

  • Choice — Doubt — Dilemma — Temptation

Mythopoetic approach[edit]

The Lovers represent the impulse that drives us out of the Garden, towards adulthood. Sometimes, that impulse manifests as curiosity (Eve, Pandora, Psyche); sometimes it manifests as sexual desire (the basis of much great literature, as well as ordinary romances, most teen movies, and even horror films); sometimes it manifests as duty (a soldier heeding the call). Whatever it is, once we have stepped past the threshold, there is no returning to the garden.

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 Lovers also represent raw desire.

When The Lovers appear in a spread, it typically draws the Querent's attention to whatever impulse drove her from home, to whatever impulse made him move out, reject the faith of his fathers, made him accept the call. That original impulse should be honored, but if it dominates the Querent's life, it will grow tiresome. The call must be renewed.

It can signal that an examination of the Querent's relationship with the garden is needed, be it exile or absence. Sometimes, it can be useful to go beyond Eden and talk about other gardens: the bittersweet Kingdom of Logres built by Arthur to keep back the rising dark for a generation, the idyllic Hobbits' Shire in The Lord of the Rings, or just a happy childhood. Look for misty eyes of memory, or bitterness at the lack of a past paradise.

The Lovers are also a reminder that we need others to become fully human. Lovers, friends, adversaries — each one teaches us, each one stretches us.


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