Tarot Without a Net: The Lovers


*Spoiler Alert*

The boat sinks.

I’ve never seen “Titanic” and precisely zero interest in ever watching it. I don’t care for romance movies, and from everything I’ve heard the movie has a disturbing lack of comedy and/or spaceships.

I have no idea why the artist picked this image to represent heart’s desire, or even lusty romance. I’m not feeling a lot of connection with the deck through this card, probably from my impression of the movie it represents way more than the card or the artwork itself.

The Lover’s is an interesting and often misunderstood card, thanks to the movie mythos that the lovers card means a hot romance is on the way with the marriage of a lifetime soon to follow. In my experience, the card is far more abstract than that. It is more akin to “I love ice cream” than the handfasting, marriage, committed, soulmate, love of a lifetime energy that we see in the Two of Cups. The Lovers symbolizes the hot flame that burns short rather than the enduring ember that burns long. Don’t get me wrong, there is some connection, because many if not all long lasting relationships start with SOME sort of spark. Maybe that is why the artist chose this love story from a movie. Maybe the movie portrays a hot romance that gets cut short by a quick dunk in the north Atlantic. Still, it niggles at me that it is wrapped up in a romantic relationship. The Lovers card can be more than that….which is saying something considering how enormous romance is within the human heart. And that’s with leaving the hormones out of it. Like everything there is a two sided yin and yang of it. (See “Arcana in Balance: The Lovers from the Tarotbytes archives).

It isn’t to say that lust, sex, love, desire and full throttle joy of living is bad. Quite the opposite. On one hand, all of those things are part of normal human existence and is as worthy of acceptance as any other emotion. That physicality and abject hedonism is certainly one part of it, but it also transcends the physical. On the other hand, the desire Lover’s card can extend far beyond the realm of romantic relationship. It touches our careers….do we earn our living doing something we are passionate about? In that way The Lovers card asks us to consider our purpose in life, our raison d’etre, our calling if you will. Emotionally it touches on satisfaction, contentment, and emotional needs being met. Intellectually, it touches curiosity, enthusiasm, and voracious learning. Arguably, passion resides in the mind as much as the heart or the hormones. You can be a passionate bowler, or stamp collector as well as being capable of passionate romance. You can be passionate about anything. Love is a big concept that encompasses all sorts of things.

So lets pick up the book and see what the artist has to say:

Whew! Even though we differ in movie taste, the basic interpretation is similar. He also talks about emotions, the joy of living and loving what you do. The connection to the card is similar (it is a fun to get that kind of validation every now and again, even if you have been  reading Tarot a long time) even if my connection to the movie represented is obviously quite different. That is the danger of using pop culture references in Tarot. Not everyone has seen every reference or interprets the reference material the same way, even if the intuitive engagement with the Tarot card itself is identical.

When a pop culture reference comes up in a reading (regardless of the deck I’m using) but the client either doesn’t know the reference or responds to it differently than the message and card intend…the thing to do is drop the reference like a hot potato. When that happens you either have to find a different cultural reference that does communicate the intended message OR leave references aside and use your good old fashioned vocabulary. Adjectives are our friends. References like these can be wonderful communication tools, but they aren’t worth holding onto so tight that the reading suffers.


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