The Tarot Lovers card meaning in a nutshell:
Deeply felt mutual attraction
- for as long as it lasts.
Except for the nudity, the picture of the Lovers Major Arcana Tarot card is quite innocent, maybe even virginal. That's because of the time and culture in which the Tarot deck of cards was created. Still, the Lovers card is definitely about sex, too. The complete love between two people. Attraction, lust, passion - all the emotions making two persons longing to connect, and then the devotion keeping them together for as long as it lasts.
The Lovers Tarot card is almost parodical in its emphasized innocence. The two lovers are not even holding hands, but remaining apart, forcefully separated by an angelic figure - albeit with red instead of white wings, as a discreet indicator of passion. The Lovers card speaks more of Agape than of Eros, the non-carnal love instead of the lustful one. No sin committed - yet.
Talking about sin, another one than that of the flesh is implied by the apple tree and the serpent on the left side of the Lovers card image. This certainly refers to Adam and Eve, and the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. We know how that ended. Here's a painting by Masolino in 1425 of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden before the Fall, showing some similarity to the Tarot Lovers card above:
Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden before the Fall, showing some similarity to the Tarot card of the Lovers. Painting by Masolino da Panicale, 1425.
The innocence doesn't last for long, when love is involved. And in a reading, the Lovers Tarot card is definitely about what its title says, and all the aspects thereof. Also, it's about the ability to love - more so, it indicates a character in which love overshadows everything else. It's the Tarot card of the lover, whether it's a Casanova, a Cleopatra, or Tristan and Isolde. Those who live to love and love to live.
Falling in love depends on the ability to do so. The true lover is always in love, although the object may vary - still with complete fidelity to the love at the moment, as if suddenly nobody else exists in the whole world, and nothing else matters.
These lovers on the Tarot card seem innocent, actually not in love at all. But that's just because their eyes haven't even met yet. The man has spotted the woman and as soon as her eyes leave the angelic figure towering over their heads, she will see him and their nature will do the rest. They have it in them, so they're destined to fall in love if they just meet.
Therefore, the angel seemingly keeping the Lovers apart is one of Opportunity, arranging fate so that it makes them meet. Not a difficult task with two lovers at heart. It can happen with just about anyone they meet, and certainly when both are of the same nature, like the ones on this Tarot card. Whether it was the angel's doing or not that they met, once it happened the heavenly creature would not be able to tear them apart.
A. E. Waite's Texts
6. The Lovers or Marriage. This symbol has undergone many variations, as might be expected from its subject. In the eighteenth century form, by which it first became known to the world of archaeological research, it is really a card of married life, shewing father and mother, with their child placed between them; and the pagan Cupid above, in the act of flying his shaft, is, of course, a misapplied emblem. The Cupid is of love beginning rather than of love in its fulness, guarding the fruit thereof. The card is said to have been entitled Simulacyum fidei, the symbol of conjugal faith, for which the rainbow as a sign of the covenant would have been a more appropriate concomitant. The figures are also held to have signified Truth, Honour and Love, but I suspect that this was, so to speak, the gloss of a commentator moralizing. It has these, but it has other and higher aspects.
About the Tarot Lovers Card
The Inner Symbolism of the Tarot Lovers Card
The sun shines in the zenith, and beneath is a great winged figure with arms extended, pouring down influences. In the foreground are two human figures, male and female, unveiled before each other, as if Adam and Eve when they first occupied the paradise of the earthly body. Behind the man is the Tree of Life, bearing twelve fruits, and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is behind the woman; the serpent is twining round it. The figures suggest youth, virginity, innocence and love before it is contaminated by gross material desire. This is in all simplicity the card of human love, here exhibited as part of the way, the truth and the life. It replaces, by recourse to first principles, the old card of marriage, which I have described previously, and the later follies which depicted man between vice and virtue. In a very high sense, the card is a mystery of the Covenant and Sabbath.
The suggestion in respect of the woman is that she signifies that attraction towards the sensitive life which carries within it the idea of the Fall of Man, but she is rather the working of a Secret Law of Providence than a willing and conscious temptress. It is through her imputed lapse that man shall arise ultimately, and only by her can he complete himself. The card is therefore in its way another intimation concerning the great mystery of womanhood. The old meanings fall to pieces of necessity with the old pictures, but even as interpretations of the latter, some of them were of the order of commonplace and others were false in symbolism.
Divinatory Meaning of the Tarot Lovers Card
Attraction, love, beauty, trials overcome. Reversed: Failure, foolish designs. Another account speaks of marriage frustrated and contrarieties of all kinds.
The Tarot Major Arcana
- The Magician
- The High Priestess
- The Empress
- The Emperor
- The Hierophant
- The Lovers
- The Chariot
- The Hermit
- Wheel of Fortune
- The Hanged Man
- The Devil
- The Tower
- The Star
- The Moon
- The Sun
- The World
- The Fool
This book by Stefan Stenudd presents an imaginative reading of the divination cards, i.e. focusing on what impressions the images and their symbols give. Several spreads are introduced, as well as the meanings of all the 78 cards and their pictures. Also, it gives many examples of symbolic and allegorical imagery within and beyond the Tarot. This book will help you find your own intuitive way of making inspired Tarot card readings. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.