What separate elements of my life can be lovingly blended together? That's the question asked by the THE LOVERS cards. What follows is a comparison of the imagery and interpretation of the Rider-Waite, The Haindl, and the Collective Tarot decks' respective sixth of the major arcana trump cards.
Smith Rider-Waite shows a traditional interpretation of Adam and Eve, Even near a tree with a snake and fruit, Adam near a burning bush. A mountain stands behind them, though visually it is between them. Above the clouds, and under an all-encompassing sun, an angel with flaming hair holds hands in blessing over the two. Adam looks at Eve, who fixes her gaze on the heavens. In The New Tarot Handbook, Rachel Pollack names this angel as Raphael, the archangel who represent's God's healing power, "and so the message of this card is that love heals," says Pollack. The mountain in the background that separates Adam from Eve is the challenge that two people must surmount in order to love each other- sometimes one scales the whole mountain to be with the other, but when they both climb it to meet at the top, their love reaches higher than otherwise.
Haindl's Lovers are accompanied by the Hebrew letter Zain, or "Sword", and the rune Ken, or "Torch", both indicative of the tendency of passionate love to swing between being protective and damaging, between enlightening and destructive. Like the Smith painting, Haindl shows his very traditional take on Adam and Eve, standing near the trees of life and knowledge. Eve's hair seems to rise up into the heavens and merge with the clouds- her intuition grows. Both figures' arms seem to merge into the negative space between them, forming a chalice, which a spear penetrates. Their mutual contribution to the shape of the cup is the nature of love- two become more than the sum of their parts. The cup and spear form lingam and yoni imagery that symbolizes the creative spark- the active joining with the receptive. Love is a blend of generosity and receptivity, a balance between sharing and listening. The spear and cup also symbolize the water and fire suits in this deck: love is a combination of passion and emotion. In the sky above their heads, Adam has a rose with a magen david inside it, showing the sacred geometry of nature, a combination of structure and chaos to make beauty, which is a feature of love's domain. Above Eve floats a unicorn's head- a symbol of mythical intrigue, mystery, power, and sexuality.
Collective Tarot steers clear of the whitewashed, heterocentric Adam and Eve imagery and instead shows a literal human heart, pierced with two arrows, and a pair of pineapples. In the chakra system, the heart chakra corresponds literally to the area of the body where the human heart resides. The heart is known to be responsive to stress, certain stimuli making it beat harder or faster. We can feel it when we think of objects of affection. Our lovers make our hearts throb. When they leave us we are heart sick. We physically feel the effects that love can have, and they are many. Arrows in the heart have long been associated with love- that pierced feeling, a wound. Two arrows in this heart indicate a choice- where does your heart lead you? Following your heart always leads to abundant, fruitful results, because it is satisfying in and of itself, no matter the result.
Thanks to @inthe78cards and @thetruthinstory for hosting this month's awesome challenge on Instagram!