consider your choice and commit to it
In The Lovers, we’re at a crossroads and cannot stay where we are. A choice must be made; and, after examining the teachings of others with The Hierophant, we are better equipped to make decisions from a place of moral reasoning. While contemporary practice often portrays a more superficial or even shallow aspect of this card as romantic lovers, the scene on the Smith-Waite card clearly depicts the Garden of Eden – the biblical original choice. The issue to be confronted here is considering our choice and its broader implications. Do they eat the fruit and enjoy sensual earthly pleasures, or do they abstain and ascend up the tree to Divine enlightenment? This quandary has historically been portrayed on this card — a man, a woman, and a cleric. Which does he love more? Which can he truly commit to? While we have evolved beyond the limiting beliefs of Christian doctrine depicted on ancient Italian and TdM decks (and their reflections in Smith-Waite), the archetypal choice between good and evil is timeless.
The card becomes more complex with the additional dimension of the duality that is formed when a pairing is combined. As in the Royal Marriage in alchemy, the process involves dissolution into two component parts, followed by the union of opposites (which involves the loss of ego identity and therefore quite threatening), but will ultimately result in the solution to the problem of opposites. In The Lovers card, we may be invited to examine the integration of dualities within us (e.g., anima & animus, conscious & subconscious). Our emotional response to the outside world is directly linked to our subconscious; we respond favorably to reflections of those golden qualities that lie dormant within us, and are annoyed by those we’ve suppressed as undesirable. It is here that we see the similarities with The Devil card (note the Smith-Waite imagery of the couple) and, in this respect, it is the card of the mirror — how do we respond to those qualities which are reflected back to us by others? It is in these encounters with ‘the other’ that drive our choices. As in the alchemical process, the goal is union into one integrated whole.
(-) In resistance, we hesitate to engage with others to avoid what is being reflected. This can manifest as difficulty in making choices, and certainly an inability to commit. In the inner landscape, we may want to examine our projections and how they drive our decision-making process.
(+) In excess, we simply go with our temptations. In considering the intertwined connection this card has with The Devil (compare the couple rendered in each card by PCS), this is where we forego our moral reasoning in the decision-making process and indulge in our desires.
Questions we may be prompted to ask when this card appears include
- How do you choose between something you desire but feel morally wrong and something more ethically sound but less appealing?
- What are the long-term implications of your decision? Will you take responsibility for it?
- What past choice(s) do you regret? Why?
- What of your inner landscape are you projecting onto others?
- What internal part is driving this decision, and what purpose is it serving?
What else? The archetypes of the majors are complex and you may have other insights. How has this card come up for you? What are some examples of this card’s energies?