Updated: Jun 19
As a writer, if you’re anything like me, then by now you’ve taken some of the tarot cards’ meanings quite literally... no pun intended. We are not wrong in this approach as we are used to writing about people, places, and things exactly how we see them, whether physically or in our mind’s eye.
The Lovers card is one such tarot card that, more often than not, will represent the concept of love rather than two specific people or a specific type of relationship (i.e. married folk, friends, lovers, heterosexual partners, etc.). Now, should you work with a spread and the Lovers card lands on a space that signifies a particular person or persons, a more literal meaning might be considered. Let’s examine the aspects of this card.
It goes without saying that this card is rich with imagery. At first glance, we see two people, a female on the left and a male on the right, both standing naked in front of a tree. There is a mountain peak in the distance behind them, with the sun positioned high in the sky and shining down all around. Once we get over the aspect that these two folks are letting all the world see their glory, we notice an angel-like figure descending from the clouds above, his hands positioned with the gesture of blessings.
Or maybe you saw the angel first. Me? I see two naked people (What would Rorschach and Freud think of that?).
According to Arthur Waite (Katz & Goodwin, 2019), the couple is “unveiled before each other, as if Adam and Eve when they first occupied the paradise of the earthly body.” Many tarot historians, such as American occultist Paul Foster Case, who wrote many books on the tarot, believe the angel to be Raphael. His blessing comes to Adam and Eve after they have eaten from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, in front of which the female figure stands. The male figure stands before the Tree of Life, its golden leaves representative of twelve fruits, one for each sign of the zodiac.
Let's take a deeper dive into this card.
The Lovers Reversed: the Shadow
When The Lovers card is reversed, well, the love is lost or blocked. This card positioning could reflect the inability to show and/or accept love. Similarly, the reversed Lovers could represent heartbreak, humiliation by a loved one, unrequited love, lost love, stubborn love, arguments, narcissism, a break-up, or even a divorce. When The Lovers card shows up reversed, it reflects the same energy as The Devil. And look at the similarities in imagery! Two people, one spiritual entity, choice, and ultimately, oppression, dependence, obsession, addiction.
Notable Symbols for The Lovers
Spirit / Air
The Lovers card is rich with numerological symbols. First, the number three represents the trinity formed by the angel and the two figures. If you follow the eyes, you can see a distinct line of focus, the man on the woman, the woman on the angel, and the angel on both. Three is the number of The Lovers card divided by two. Two represents the two figures in the card who have only just become aware of their mortality. The Lovers card is the sixth card of the numbered cards in the Major Arcana (Remember, the Fool is zero), and if we break down six to its lowest components, we get 1 + 5... 15. Therefore, there is a direct connection between VI The Lovers card and XV The Devil, which we will get to in a few more cards.
A few symbols not mentioned yet and might resonate with you when considering this card in a reading or as a Card of the Day are the sun, clouds, mountain, and that snake wrapped around the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
To start, the sun represents warmth, hope, and blessings shining down upon the couple from the heavens above. The rays provide light for their journey and warmth for their bodies. Below Raphael, we see billowing clouds.
In their book Secrets of the Waite-Smith Tarot (2019), authors Katz and Goodwin report clouds as representative of celestial messages and opportunities. They are symbolic of production, a storm brewing and churning. Growth.
According to religion historian Mircea Eliade, the mountain between the two figures and directly beneath Raphael represents the highest point on earth, the center of creation, “...the earth’s navel.”
And, finally, we have the serpent. In Rachel Pollack’s Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom (1980, 2019), she writes that the snake is a magical creature representative of sexuality as “a force towards enlightenment.”
The Lovers as a Concept
The meaning of The Lovers card can be simplified as a holy trinity of the love shared between two individuals connected by the Divine. Alternatively, love is a choice, it offers guidance, partnership, an emotional and/or physical connection. This card could mean intuitive guidance, the love resounding from one’s Higher Self, lustful love, dedicated love, unconditional love, helpful love, self-love. The Lovers can mean familial love, love for a pet(s), sibling love, twins, love for nature, parental love, or loving someone as if they were related by blood.
The Lovers as You, the Writer
The Lovers card is a whole mood. And if you find that you are drawn to this card, you discover that this card is your Soul Number card, and/or this card lands in a tarot spread position representative of you, then you are a whole mood. You are giving and receiving and worthy of love. You’re sensual and feeling and craving, with carnal desires that reach deeper than what the physical aspects of lovemaking alone can provide. You want more. You want to be desired, you want perfect love, agape love. As a writer, if this card is your favorite, you’re probably excellent at writing romance. If you’ve never tried your hand at it, however, why not? You definitely aren’t lacking in desire, that’s for sure!
Spoiler alert! When I wrote The Scars We Choose, I was inspired by The Lovers from the very beginning when my little girl protagonist, Lizzie Nell, first meets little boy protagonist, Julian Rose. As they grew up together, and their love matured, the card helped me to envision (and remember) what it would be like to choose being stranded with the one you love at the top of a lighthouse during a hurricane. Like the card, a major theme in my novel is choosing love over anything and everything.
Who can this person be?
A new couple, a married couple, two people dating, partners in an affair, fraternal twins, kissing cousins, life partners, best friends.
Famous character(s), people, books, or movies that embody this card’s energy:
Jim and Pam, Mr. Charles Bingley (with five-thousand a year) and Jane Bennett, Morticia and Gomez, Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar, Simon and Daphne... the list goes on...
"Where's that scarf, Jakey?"
Next up, the spotlight shines on indie author Lisa Valentine! Check out her interview on my next post.
In her more than thirty years as a storyteller and visual designer, Amanda “Mandy” Hughes has written and designed over a dozen works of upmarket, literary, and women’s fiction under pen names A. Lee Hughes and Mandy Lee.
Mandy is the founder of Haint Blue Creative, a space for readers and storytellers to explore, learn, and create. Although she earned a Bachelor and Master of Science in Psychology, she has yet to figure out her family, much less herself.
When she’s not writing, Mandy loves going to the movies, theater, traveling, nature walks, birdwatching, margarita-making, and binge-watching The Office. She is a tarot enthusiast who uses the cards to promote wellness and enhance creativity. She lives in Georgia with her husband and four boys, two of whom are furrier than the others (but not by much). Visit her website at haintbluecreative.com and follow her on Instagram @haintbluecreative.