When it comes to misunderstood tarot cards, The Lovers is second only to Death. While its imagery and name certainly lend themselves to a romantic interpretation, that’s not all this card’s good for — in fact, it’s only one of many romance cards in the deck.
Instead, this card can be a good omen for all kinds of situations, romantic or otherwise.
About The Lovers
- Keywords: Love, romance, partnerships, balance, harmony, a shared vision
- Keywords (Reversed): Imbalance, disharmony, miscommunication, conflicts
- Yes or No: Yes
- Yes or No (Reversed): No
- Element: Air
- Zodiac Sign: Gemini
In the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot, The Lovers is a very beautiful card. A nude man and woman stand in front of a colorful background made up of a lush, fruiting tree, a burning bush, a mountain, and what appears to be an angel with outstretched arms and multicolored hair.
There are several visual allusions to Adam and Eve and the garden of Eden from Christian lore — the fruiting tree has a snake entwined in its branches, and the woman looks up at the angel as if in supplication.
There is no image of the garden itself here. The background is taken up by a green field and a mountain. It’s not a depiction of Adam and Eve in the garden itself, it’s a picture of them after the moment of choice. They’ve chosen knowledge, eaten the fruit, and the angel is there to deliver the consequence of their actions.
This is no coincidence — The Lovers is all about choices and sacrifice. Just as Adam and Eve decided to pick wisdom over a life of blissful ignorance in the garden, the imagery and symbolism in The Lovers signifies some type of sacrifice.
Even in a romantic context, the querent must sacrifice their solitude and freedom for a relationship, or sacrifice some of their wants and needs in order to compromise with their partner.
While the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck uses Biblical imagery to emphasize the idea of choices, other decks illustrate this concept in different ways.
The Marseilles tarot, which foregoes the idea of Adam and Eve, uses a man standing between two women to depict the ideas of choice and sacrifice. The man must decide between two women, ultimately sacrificing his future with one for the sake of his future with the other.
The Lovers Meaning (Upright)
Upright, The Lovers represents harmony, balance, and choice. It appears when you have a very important decision to make — will you opt for growth, or comfort and safety?
The options in front of you are likely mutually exclusive; choosing one means neglecting the other. You’ll have to weigh your options carefully, because whatever decision you make is going to have a profound impact on you.
The Lovers may also represent a partnership, albeit not necessarily a romantic one. If no partnership is on the horizon, this card can also stand for finding a sense of balance, harmony, and completeness within oneself.
The Lovers Meaning (Reversed)
When it appears in a reversed orientation, The Lovers can signify difficulty reconciling your feelings with your actions. You may be having trouble holding yourself accountable for the choices you’ve made. You might also feel that the outcome you’re experiencing is happening to you, not because of your actions.
The Lovers reversed can also represent an external conflict. You might be faced with a decision in which there doesn’t seem to be a good outcome, or there may be communication problems in your relationships.
As advice, The Lovers reversed suggests that you take responsibility for your decisions and determine how your actions have contributed to the conflicts you currently face.
See also: Check out alternate Tarot decks here.
The Lovers Meaning – Love & Relationships (Upright)
In a romantic context, The Lovers represents a very close, harmonious, fruitful relationship. It may even be a “soulmate” kind of pairing.
If you aren’t currently in a relationship, then you’re likely to be presented with a potential partner soon. If you are, you’re about to enter a period of rekindled passion and a deepening connection.
Don’t forget about the ideas of choice and sacrifice, however. In order to experience this profound love, you’ll have to give up something else.
Every kind of commitment is a sacrifice of some sort, and a future with this love in your life precludes the other futures you might create for yourself.
The Lovers Meaning – Love & Relationships (Reversed)
When reversed in a love reading, The Lovers represents a lack of balance. Often times, the physical passion is there, but the mental or emotional connection is lacking. You may also experience a fear of commitment.
The Lovers reversed advises you to interrogate yourself. What do you need or want from your partnership? Are you getting it? What are you afraid of?
If you’re single, The Lovers reversed can signify a lack of progress in your search for a partner. A relationship is on its way to you, but it’ll likely take much longer than you’d like.
The Lovers Meaning – Careers, Business & Money (Upright)
In a career and business reading, The Lovers upright represents a business partnership. It’s a fruitful, balanced, and mutually beneficial one. Of course, you’ll have to sacrifice some of your vision and ideas in order to compromise with your partner. If you can do this, this partnership will take you both far.
This card can also signify making a difficult choice in your work life. This can be a purely business-related decision, or choices between your work and home life.
Occasionally, this card references a romantic relationship that blossoms at work. In this context, it’s a warning — business and pleasure rarely mix, so make sure you understand the risks facing you both.
In a money reading, The Lovers can signify good fortune, and a difficult financial choice. Whatever decision you make will close off your other options. While you’re likely to attract money at this time, don’t try to have your cake and eat it too.
The Lovers Meaning – Careers, Business & Money (Reversed)
When reversed in a career or business reading, The Lovers points to a partnership that’s going sour. You’re likely to experience differences of opinion (or even fights) with your co-workers or business partners.
In the context of a work romance, The Lovers reversed is very similar to its upright meaning. When reversed, however, it’s an even stronger warning — things might feel good right now, but the risks will eventually outweigh the reward.
When it comes to money, The Lovers reversed may indicate financial irresponsibility. It asks you to accept the consequences of your financial decisions, learn from them, and make better choices in the future.
The Lovers: Yes or No?
As a general rule, The Lovers card means “Yes” in a “Yes or No” reading. As a card of partnerships and bonding, this is especially the case in queries related to love, relationships, or any kind of union.
Reversed, The Lovers represents a “No.” While the card indicates balance and harmony in its upright orientation, this is lost with a reversal. The outcome of this situation most likely won’t favor you.
The Lovers is widely regarded as a love card, but its concept of “love” has more to do with partnership, choices, and sacrifice.
This card says that every choice you make decides your future and closes the door to all of the futures you didn’t pick.
When you can make informed decisions and accept the consequences of your choices, you can place yourself on the path to success and happiness.
See also: For more Tarot Cards and their meanings, check out our full list of Tarot Card Meanings.
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