Rachel Pollack says of the Rider-Waite image that it depicts an “image of deep love”–the type Adam and Eve enjoyed before the fall. Eve stands before the Tree of Knowledge and Adam before the Tree of Life. As Pollack says:
There is a significant difference from the biblical story we all know. They are not shown as sinful or fallen but idealized. In the traditional story, God expels the couple from Eden and sets and angel with a flaming sword to guard the gate so they cannot slip back in. Here the archangel Raphael unites and blesses them. Rapha-el means “healing power of God,” and so the message of this card is that love heals.
The card shows Adam and Eve as they should have been, without corruption, and thus a model of the ideal relationship, a union of spirit as well as desire. We also might see all three figures together as a model of the self. the man symbolized the rational mind, the woman the emotional. Adam looks to Eve, who looks up to the higher self of the angel, whose outstretched arms bless them. In other words, the rational mind cannot reach a higher state unless it travels through feelings.
Interestingly, Robin Wood’s card hits the same notes of an idealized, uncorrupted love, but without Christian imagery. In this card, a naked man and woman embrace before two trees growing from a single trunk. On her half, the tree is an apple tree, a tree of youth, beauty, and fruitfulness as well as a door to deeper mysteries. On his half, the tree is an oak: a sign of protection and strength. The tree shows that the Lovers’ complementing halves unite as a healthy whole as they grow together through their love. From this unity emits a light of seven beams to show the perfection of their love.
Aside from the single tree, the entire card depicts opposites that the couple hold in balance and harmony through their love. She has long, flowing dark hair to show her youth and sensuality (but she braids a lock to show her willingness to make necessary compromises for the partnership and binds it with a green feather for the Goddess); he has golden hair and a beard to show his logic and maturity (and he wears two red feathers on his arm for the God of Life and Death). She holds the full-moon-embraced-by-new, a symbol of intuitive knowledge, in her right, active hand. He holds the sun, a symbol of bright new knowledge and open lucid powers, in his left, passive hand. Together, they hold all this power in complete balance.
She looks ahead. His eyes are closed. Behind her is a house with its hearth fire lit (smoke comes from the chimney). Behind him are plowed fields. Together, they make a productive home. Behind her are a pair of eagles to show her strength and freedom, which she can freely express in this union. Behind him are two butterflies, which show the frailty and tenderness he can express. The pink flowers and new lawn they stand upon shows their utter happiness in this perfectly balanced, healthy union.
KEYWORDS: Love and Companionship, Balance, Health, Deep Relationship, Desire, Sexuality.
Close your eyes and imagine that you stand before a great mirror that can show what it is you believe you lack. As you stand before the mirror, you initially behold your usual reflection, but then the image transforms and you see the part of you that you believe is missing. What does the mirror show you? Ask the mirror what steps to take to find wholeness and unity.
Keep the Lovers card with you at all times today, or place it on your altar. Contemplate your relationships to people, to objects, to the environment, and to the world of spirit. Focus on building respectful, sacred, whole relationships today. Instead of viewing the objects of your environment as inanimate and lacking awareness, regard them as beings of consciousness and feeling. Change your approach to the world from an it consciousness to a thou consciousness. When everyone and everything is sacred, how will you behave toward them?
The card descriptions are a combination of my own insights and paraphrasing from a handful of sources. I’m currently working with Rachel Pollack’s book The New Tarot Handbook, Robin Wood’s Robin Wood Tarot: The Book, and a smattering from Anthony Louis’s Tarot Plain and Simple. I also strongly recommend Joan Bunning’s book Learning the Tarot as well as the resources found on her website, learntarot.com.