On May 21st we enter the season of Gemini, whose card is The Lovers. The constellation Gemini tells the story of twins with different fathers made immortal by Zeus. Gemini, ruled by Mercury the messenger, reveals the duality of manifestation and the connection between Spirit and form. As a master connector and communicator, Gemini is the perfect messenger for the truth that there are no “good” or “bad” cards. While that fact may be a comfort to know before pulling a card like The Devil, it can also cause disappointment with a card like The Lovers! With no real knowledge of the Tarot, it would make sense to assume that The Lovers is a “good” card and The Devil is a “bad” card. In reality, these cards are very similar and neither one is positive or negative. When The Lovers comes up in a reading, the most natural reaction is, “Fantastic! I am going to experience romantic love with another person and that will fulfill and complete me.” We know however that we can never find completion or fulfillment from someone or something external.
When The Lovers comes up I very often say, “Until death do you part is you and you.” While this isn't always received with joy and relief, it is true. It is the medicine of The Lovers and that's what we get to explore this season. Quickly, let’s review how we arrive at The Lovers…
In the preceding cards of Line One in the Major Arcana, we have The Magician I and The High Priestess II. These are the Yin and Yang energies of divine manifestation. The Magician pulls from the divine and brings that energy down and out to the world. The High Priestess pulls from the divine down and inward. Next is The Empress III, the divine feminine who embodies receptivity, and The Emperor IV, the divine masculine who embodies boundaries and structure. Then, The Hierophant V, who provides the foundation for the soul’s expansion here on Earth. When we reach The Lovers VI, we combine the first four cards' elements: creativity, intuition, receptivity, and expansion. We then launch those elements from a spiritual foundation into our bodies and minds, and onto the world.
In this card, we see a man and woman in full daylight, naked and under the blessing of the angel Raphael. The woman stands before the Tree of Knowledge with 5 fruits representing the 5 senses and the man stands before the Tree of Life with 12 fiery fruits representing the zodiac. The man looks to the woman and the woman looks to the angel. The Roman Church believed the angel Raphael represented the planet Mercury and the element of air, both attributed to Gemini. He is also credited by Paul Foster Case as representing the super-conscious mind. Using Freudian terminology we can say that the woman represents the id, the man the ego, and the angel the superego; however, the paradise in this scenario is a reward for passion and knowledge, not a punishment. More in alignment perhaps then is the framework of the triune mind. We see that reason without passion cannot summon the angel, and passion without reason is chaos. By combining the conscious rational mind and unconscious passionate mind, spiritual energy is transformed into matter, meaning, and purpose. So, if all the symbolism in this card means to recognize the elements of the self as separate and integrated, why is it named The Lovers? How can this card not be about amorous affection? In The Hierophant we gain the foundation to navigate a soul's journey in a body, so it makes sense that we would next seek to recognize the divine in another with The Lovers.
What we actually find through that search is a mirror reflecting our integrated self.
In the Next World Tarot by Cristy C. Road, we see a woman present her worldly self to a mirror. Her authentic naked self-reflection lovingly steps through the looking glass to offer her spoons. Her reflection is as shameless and supportive as she is allowing herself to be. I think it is safe to say that this is the ideal experience of self-love and reflection, but it is not the everyday lived experience. The Lovers card longs to bring us back into oneness with the parts of ourselves we identified as ‘other’ or unlovable. When we fall in love, be it a brief passionate affair, a marriage, a best friend, a job, a sport, a community – we fall in love with who we are in that experience. Similarly, when we have a strong reaction of repulsion, we may have unintentionally identified some aspect of ourselves that we've deemed unlovable. In a reading, The Lovers often arises when we are about to embark on a milestone and think, “If I can get this next job title, I will have made it professionally” or, “Once we get married I will feel totally secure”. It would be convenient to confirm my clients' wishes at those times with this card, but the reality is just the opposite. When we identify the brass ring in the external, we have really uncovered a call for love from the internal. Now the duality of Gemini makes sense for this card!
The Lovers also arise around our feelings of self-criticism. For example, I have been harsh on myself in the past for taking up too much space (The Emperor). I remember feeling that if I could only be more of a quiet observer, then I would be the right kind of human. Thoughts like, "I'm too much" can become beliefs (The Hierophant). It is the sunlight of the angel and The Lovers that are here to help recognize those thoughts and beliefs and heal. The parts of your character you see as barriers to acceptance and love are actually the parts that deserve the most tenderness and love. The moment we find ourselves grasping for something external is exactly the time to pause and identify what we need for a self-reclamation. With all that in mind, we have an opportunity to work with The Lovers energy this Gemini season.