How to Read Tarot Cards: The Lovers of the Major Arcana

Jennifer VanBenschoten

Back in January (which seems like, what, a million years ago?) I decided I was going to start exploring the Major Arcana in the coming year. Well, shortly after that, I was sidelined by major oral surgery, a bout with influenza A, and then a statewide shutdown due to the COVID-19 outbreak here in New York state. Just a few bumps in the road, right? 

Well, the other day in my favorite Facebook Tarot group, Tea & Tarot, the daily Tarot pull was The Lovers. And my, oh my, what a challenging card for me!

The Lovers is one of those cards that makes me long for more non-human Tarot decks because for years, I struggled with this card. Yes, human relationships are a key component of being human, but not everybody feels called to engage in a romantic relationship with a partner of the opposite sex, or even in a romantic relationship at all. Of course, back in the day when Tarot was created, it was the societal expectation that you would get married, have children, etc. Survival was tough back in those days - there were just so many ways to die - so the Church used the sacrament of marriage as a way to encourage procreation and thus further the human species (all while requiring them to pay their fair share to the patriarchal hierarchy, mind you). 

Maybe The Lovers was originally intended as a reminder to tend to your spouse and that all important marriage. But as Tarot has (thankfully) evolved, the meaning of The Lovers has become much deeper and more universal. 

The Concept of Duality

In this image from The Robin Wood Tarot, you can see clearly the male and female images. But what else do you notice? The moon and the sun? The sky and the earth? There's a lot about this card that speaks to the dual nature of life. You can't have the light without the dark, the yin without the yang. Male and female are simply a humancentric expression of this duality that we all experience, regardless of our sexual orientation. There are so many other ways to find the nature of duality in the world!

Even in the physical sciences, we can experience the nature of duality with the concept of matter and anti-matter: if something exists, we have to also assume that it's opposite exists as well.

An important aspect of this card is asking us to actively engage our shadow parts so that we can integrate them into our whole. 

And if you really want to go there, we can look at our own dual nature and how it translates into healthy relationships with others. Are we bonding with people over our wounds and emotional baggage? Or are we connecting from a more heart-chakra-centered place? How can we address our shadow sides when it comes to emotional and spiritual wounding to be more whole and more present in our relationships?

Stay tuned in the next couple of days for a new Tarot spread based on The Lovers! 

Meanwhile, if you're interested in learning more about The Major Arcana, join me for a special 7 week live online course: Advanced Integrative Tarot. In addition to diving more into the energy of the Major Arcana, we'll explore topics like Tarot + the Chakras, Tarot + Spirit Writing, Tarot + Astrology, and Tarot + Gemstones. Register now so you don't miss out! 

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