When we look at the Lovers tarot card in the Rider Waite deck, we see Archangel Raphael with his wings spread wide protectively with Adam and Eve, standing below. At first glance we think this is a card about relationships and love. Though that would be an accurate assumption, it is also a card about choice. In the Mythic Tarot, Paris, a young Trojan prince, was told by Zeus to judge a beauty contest with Hera who offered him the rulership of the world if he chose her, Athene who offered to make him the mightiest of warriors and Aphrodite who opened her robe and offered him the cup of love. Being young and perhaps a bit impulsive, Paris chose Aphrodite without hesitation.
When I think about how the Lover’s card fits in my life, the first issue that comes to mind are the choices I have made throughout the years. Rachel Pollack begins by talking about a minor choice or a major crisis, which is illustrated in the biblical tale of Eve who ate from the Tree of Knowledge. Consequences followed.
My own consequences have its’ origins when my mother used to yell at me, “Don’t do that!” never with a reason. I felt backed into a corner both angry and helpless. Later on in life, as a social worker, I’d offer alternative ways for parents to teach their children how to make choices: “If you do this, that will happen, or if you do that this could happen, what would you prefer?” I don’t know how many parents actually followed my advice, especially in those impatient angry moments of child-rearing, but it would have been helpful to me if I was taught how to make better choices. Instead, my choices were often rebellious and impulsive. As a child, I was too scared to defy my parents’ demands, but as a teen I found them oppressive and a boyfriend I had at the time wanted to know why I was putting up with them. “Why don’t you leave?” We were in a huge loft that his friends rented — very cool looking hippies — endless space with plenty of room to “crash,” so I called my mother, told her I wasn’t coming home and hung up before she had an opportunity to respond. Ultimately it was a decision that shaped my life, but my impulsive decision was based only on desires at the moment, and without a thought of consequences. Those impulsive ego centered decisions of “I want this, I want to do that” followed me through many years of bad relationships, getting high to escape pressure, and unfulfilling jobs, all accompanied by unpleasant consequences.
Rachel Pollack goes on to say that choices, as in the Hierophant, consist of outer choices where everything is laid out for you or the inner path which includes confrontation with inner desires and a path to connect with the Divine. Eventually I understood that the way of life that my parents tried drilling into me just didn’t fit. It was a realization that came as I became more familiar with my needs and desires. I no longer needed to be rebellious, instead I began to look within and follow my heart, which took me along many paths towards a more peaceful existence. Self-acceptance enabled me to make better choices and as Mary Greer states, the moral responsibilities taught by the Hierophant affect our sense of self-worth and the quality of our human reactions. Further, Fiebig and Burger state that life’s answers are not found in another person, it’s our own soul searching which includes opening up to God for spiritual peace, release, and fulfillment.
I believe my own self growth enabled me to see the broader view and meaning of the Lovers tarot card. Eve looks up at Archangel Raphael, Eve represents our unconscious, our drive toward fulfillment and what Rachel Pollack calls the true energy of life, while Adam looks over at Eve. He represents conscious energy and form which feels like earthly energy, while Archangel Raphael looks at both. They all co-exist together as one. The Osho Zen tarot card has a wonderful way of helping us interpret this unification: Sex is the seed; love is the flower and compassion the fragrance. We are a part of this unification, and a higher order of existence is available to us when we are ready. The Lovers card, therefore, is not just about the choices we make in life, or in our relationships, it is also about the relationship we have with ourselves as earthly beings who are connected with our higher self, our eternal souls who are also part of universal energy.
I look back at my 40+ years with my husband and see how different relationships are when we find our soul mates. When Pat and I became a committed couple, happiness became more than a mood – it was a frame of mind that affected all areas of my life in that growth, creativity and inspiration blossomed. Having a partner in life felt right, like the most perfect-fitting pair of shoes. Life became an event that we celebrated every day — it’s interesting how I am the one leaning toward Universal energy while he is the one who knows everything about the complexities of our TV, how to resolve computer issues and what goes on in the news. We complement each other but we also stand separately.
Like a flower that withers, aging, and illness affect our wonderful unit as we each have our own ways of coping with life’s challenges. I’m looking inward and upward while Pat looks outward toward an intervention that will enable him to re-capture some of his youthful energy. Though we are still a unit that stands together, we give each other room to stand alone. Kahlil Gibran wrote in “The Prophet,” “Let there be spaces in your togetherness, and let the winds of heaven dance between you…Sing and dance together and be joyous but let each of you stand alone, even as the strings of a lute stand alone, they quiver with the same music.”