Tarot Card Meanings: Lovers
“I was looking for love,” says Johnny Lee, “in all the wrong places.” If you were somehow clever enough to have read my posting on the tarot card Lovers you will have already heard how this card used to be called “Choice.” In its earlier form, rather than bearing two naked lovers, it showed a fully-dressed man torn between his mother and a well-clad young woman, the man having to decide which to follow.
“Choice” was not exactly the Adam and Eve story of the new Lovers card, though the Adam and Eve story also could be said to have been about Choice rather than love. Today we move beyond the Lovers and look at another card which is commonly mistaken for pure love, the two of cups, and another card which nobody ever mistakes for love, the Devil.
Tarot Card Meanings: Two of Cups
“Let’s make a deal,” says Monty Hall. The sedate two of cups card hardly brings to mind the crass, shrieking marketplace of the television game show, yet there are surprising similarities. We must look to the symbolism to understand why. Like the angel rising between the two figures in the lovers card, we have a winged lion above two intertwined snakes. This is a familiar icon known as a caduceus.
“In Rome,” says the historian, “Livy refers to the caduceator who negotiated peace arrangements under the diplomatic protection of the caduceus he carried.” Oddly, the caduceus is familiar to many of us for entirely the wrong reason. In North America it is commonly and mistakenly used as a symbol for medicine. However, in the rest of the world it is traditionally a symbol for commerce or negotiation, and has nothing at all to do with the medical arena. It’s about making deals.
In our peaceful two of cups tarot card we see two people about to exchange tokens of agreement under this icon of diplomacy. The caduceus may be a passionate red, but the people themselves are calm and rational, dressed in the blue of wisdom, the white of spirit, and the yellow of consciousness. They may be pledging themselves to each other, as with many diplomatic negotiations, but this is no erotic moment, and in too sterile an environment to be thought of as a place in which to seek love.
Tarot Card Meanings: Devil
“We are all just prisoners here,” say the Eagles, “of our own device.” We can hardly discuss love cards without at least passing reference to the tarot card Devil. As a dark perversion of the Lovers card, we see our same two characters loosely chained to the plinth of the Evil One, seemingly at his mercy though truly at the mercy of their own needs and desires. At any time they could remove the chains and walk away, but walking away is just so hard to do. I admit to having sought a partner or two on the dark side myself back in the day. Just a taste of delicious devilry. Don’t tell my mother.
Tarot Card Meanings: Lovers, Two of Cups, Devil
When two of these cards show up you need to beware believing too quickly that they refer to love, and when you see the other you need beware believing too quickly that it doesn’t. Love can be a choice, love can be a negotiation, love can be a trap, and I’m certain love can be many other things as well. I’m also certain love can be difficult to find, especially when you go looking for it in all the wrong places. In the tarot, finding the right places is harder than you may think.
Blessed be –
The opening cards are from the Waite Smith deck.
The first Lovers card is from the Marseilles Tarot deck.
The first Two of Cups is from the Robin Wood Tarot deck.
The caduceus image is unattributed.
The second Two of Cups is from Georgie’s Tarot.
The Devil card is from the Visconti Sforza Tarot deck. Theses are the oldest extant tarot cards.
The third Two of Cups card is by nimloth87.
The second Devil card is by pkfridley.
The last Lovers card is from the Les Miz Tarot deck.