There can be no love without justice.
– Bell Hooks, All About Love: New Visions
How to we speak of Lovers in these times? The ground shaking racist slaughter in Charleston days ago shook me out of my dreamy thoughts about The Lovers card in preparing for this Tarot Blog Hop post. It is impossible to ignore just how messed up and unjust the world is now. Inequality, though not new, is at least more visible to more people that it has been in a long time. I can not just ponder the Lovers in the bubble of romance and personal choice I usually put it.
The Lovers card shows us lives in balance. Two strong, whole people joined in equal stance facing the future with bravery and deep consideration. They have the freedom to choose their next life path at the crossroads. We do not all have equal options. Could all peoples attain this same freedom? How can we face and disarm the privilege and prejudice which obscures our view and can lead us to make limiting choices?
It is worth noting the heteronormative eurocentric symbolism both the traditional Lovers cards and many modern ones. That’s the thing about racial inequality. It is old and vastly integrated. I teach from the Rider Waite Smith deck and I always give a small speech about the historical assumptions it makes of race, gender, sexuality and religion. I note how some contemporary artists are shaking up these prejudiced views with creativity and inclusivity. We have the choice to improve these outdated symbols.
The symbols on the Lovers card in the Marseilles deck are about morality. Pictured is the temptation of a man choosing between good and evil as represented by a light-haired woman and a dark-haired woman. We see women embodying evil and blackness embodying evil. Moral choice then changed into personal choice and then changed into romantic love as the card adapted over time. I find the interpretation of simple romantic love limiting in most readings. I usually combine it with the aspect of choice to draw on deeper layers of relevance.
What if we were to also reinstate the morality aspect back into the Lovers? Not in it’s antiquated medieval form but as modern integrity and conscience. When we face the Lovers card, we can choose a future based on our desire for our best possible outcome. We can also choose to consult our values so that our choices reflect the world we want to build together, not just for us and our beloveds but the communities which surround us and humanity itself. Justice and Judgement invite us to consider these things farther down the arcana road. What if we were to consider them sooner? I propose that we consider the choices presented by the Lovers card to include integrity that extends beyond our personal world. This is not a shift in the core interpretations of the card, but an addition, a call to integrate Justice into personal choice.
The decisions made by the Lovers are never light. Lives change forever when we step forward at that crossroads. We are at such a crossroads now. I hope I can strive, with humility, to make life choices that create balance beyond just my personal world.
Bonus! This is a tarot spread about the personal work of Love.
The Divine Work of Eros Spread
What is your work with love right now? This spread shows different aspects of how you love yourself and others, the things you show and hide, need and give. It refers to how you are interacting in current relationships, friendships, with yourself or in how you are looking for love. How are you expressing yourself? What needs strengthening? What is your next step on your loving path?
I seek this
That which you are looking for. The things you are attracted to. What you yearn for. What are your true desires?
I hide from this
The aspects of loving you shy away from. The things you keep from the world. Boundaries – both healthy and fearful.
My self love
This reflects how you love yourself. How you feel about and treat yourself. Self worth, self care.
My sexual love
Your sexuality. Your sexual desires and healing. Your beliefs about your sexual self.
I bring this
Gifts you bring into relationships. Something you have to offer.
I need to receive this
Needs you have in relationships. Things you need to ask for.
The next step to take in my loving journey
Action. For the best possible outcome for love in your life, this shows a step you can take.
This post is part of the summer solstice tarot blog hop of the major arcana.
Click the links below to see the posts before and after this one.