What can tarot teach us about love? A collective reading
One of the most famous cards in the tarot deck is the lovers. Modern versions often show a man and a woman standing under the blessing (or perhaps judgment) of an angel. From this, it is easy to assume that it is about romantic love. If we take a moment to study older versions of this card, however, we can see that it is about something more than romance.
In the old Marseille decks, this card shows a man standing between two women, each trying to pull him in a different direction. His body seems to be facing one woman while he looks upon the other. To add to his visual, the name of the card is slightly different. Instead of the lovers, this card is actually called l’amoureux, which translates to the lover (singular masculine).
While love is definitely a factor in this scene, this card is ultimately about something more nuanced; instead of love itself, it’s about a function of love. In the older version, a man must choose between two women. In the modern version, the couple stands in the Garden of Eden, in between the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life. Ultimately, The Lover(s) card is about choices.
But what do choices have to do with love?
This tarot card teaches us that love ought to be the guiding force of our choices. When we are faced with difficult decisions, we must choose with our conscious minds and hearts to ensure that our decisions serve our higher selves instead of our base animal instincts.
This isn’t always easy. How often have we made choices that we end up regretting? If we’re completely honest with ourselves, we may see that many of our poor choices weren’t guided by love. Rather, they were driven by fear, greed, vanity or other vices.
The following is a reading to practice how to make better choices.
When do I make poor choices?
Card: King of Cups
There is an incredibly common vice that most of us can admit to having succumbed to at one point or another. We can probably all recall a time or two when we behaved like the negative aspects of the King of Cups. This king sits on a throne floating in an endless sea, drunk and isolated. It describes a person who has grown out of sync with society; someone who indulges in emotional intoxication rather than nurturing relationships.
These addictive behaviours can take on numerous forms. For some, it’s a petty desire to resent those whom they deem more successful than themselves. For others, it can be that toxic friend they can’t say no to because they are secretly drawn to the drama.
Poor choices are made when this King of Cups takes the reins. When choices are driven by petty emotions and selfish intent, they hardly ever result in true joy.
What are the consequences of my poor decision-making?
Card: 10 of Cups
This card is the classic fairy-tale ending in which the characters “lived happily ever after.” One thing to note about this happiness is that it’s always achieved with others. A hermit returning to their cave, regardless of whether they’re driven by enlightenment or jadedness, is not a fairy tale happily ever after.
Appearing in this position, this card asks us to examine how our poor decisions have affected those around us and what impact they had on our relationships. Have we hurt those who care about us by saying hurtful things or by taking them for granted?
Or, perhaps, the person we hurt most is ourselves. When we behave selfishly, we isolate ourselves and decrease our chances at discovering happiness — the kind that requires love to fulfil. Unless the Hermit is our model of everlasting joy, every time we behave selfishly, we are using our emotions as chips and gambling with our future as collateral.
How can I make better choices?