Written by Kate Sheridan, Guest Contributor
All opinions expressed in this article are the sole perception/experience of the writer, and may not necessarily be shared by Michelle Lewis – The Blessings Butterfly. All Rights Reserved.
If you’re interested in numerology or the tarot, you may have heard that this year is a Lovers year. The logic is simple: when we add up the digits in 2022, we get 6, which leads us to card #6 in the Major Arcana — The Lovers.
But what does this mean?
With Valentine’s Day come and gone, I find myself exploring all of the stereotypical themes we might associate with this card, the kind of surface-level interpretations that come to mind when we hear the word ‘lover.’ Surely this card signifies romantic love, a twin flame connection, finally meeting that tall, dark, and handsome stranger…
We all know the feeling. Let’s say you’re doing a tarot reading for yourself and you pull The Lovers, and your heart leaps up at the thought of meeting your Soulmate with a capital S. Oh my goddess! you think, It’s finally going to happen! Or maybe it’s not a Soulmate, but a new job, or your family’s approval, or any other kind of external validation of your worth. Your heart leaps up toward this someone or something, leaps or even grasps at it, and you’re left hoping that this desire is a foretelling of its consummation. Will The Lovers bring you a lover, bring you your heart’s desire?
Maybe it will. Indeed, true love is real. It happens every day.
Still, I can’t help but feel like The Lovers card needs a PR update, one that expands our understanding to encompass the full range of this archetype.
And I should know, having read tarot for myself all throughout my tender twenties, those years of relationships beginning and ending, of looking desperately for love, of enacting codependent dynamics over and over until finally my eyes were opened to the pattern of my life — and to the possibility of choosing another way.
As with all the cards, we’ve got to go beyond the “Little White Book” style of reading, that is, relying on the guidebook that came with your deck rather than tapping into your own intuition. If The Lovers card is only what the LWB says it is, then all we have to go on is “Attraction, love, beauty, trials overcome.” Or reversed — “Failure, foolish designs.”
Attraction or failure. Love or foolish designs on love.
So often, our minds fall into these dualistic traps, especially when reading tarot: Will my future be good or bad? Will I succeed or fail? Should I stay or should I go? Is this decision right or wrong?
Will I meet my Soulmate, or will I be alone forever?
Upon closer inspection, it is precisely this kind of dualistic thinking that The Lovers card urges us to alchemize and expand. The classic image by Pamela Colman Smith depicts this process perfectly. First, the binary: man and woman, Adam and Eve naked in the Garden of Eden. Then, the expansion: the archangel Raphael, patron of matchmakers but also of medical professionals, Raphael whose name means “God heals.”
The word heal has the same etymological roots as the word whole, and this is the key to The Lovers. When we pull this card in a reading, often we are being asked to interrogate all the ways that we are making our wholeness contingent upon something or someone outside of us: If only I could be loved by this person, if only I could be as beautiful or talented as that person, if only I could be validated and recognized in this way… then I will be happy, then I will be whole. Then I will be healed.
Deeper Inquiry Leads to a Shift
Here’s the truth. When your heart leaps up toward that which you desire, it is the leaping itself that is asking to be acknowledged. The desire itself. The longing. In this tender feeling is the gesture toward Wholeness. Belonging. Union. The Lovers archetype points us not toward the Other (the person or thing we desire so much) — or even toward the Self (the remaining half of a binary equation) — but rather directly into the interstitial space between Self and Other, the ineffable yet palpable place where Self and Other become One.
“There is only One Light, and ‘you’ and ‘me’ are holes in the lamp shade.”– Sufi poet Mahmoud Shabestari, by way of Paul Quinn, author of Tarot for Life
The question then becomes: how and why are you denying yourself access to this mysterious place of Union, of Oneness? How and why are you banishing yourself from the Garden, convincing yourself that someone or something outside of you is standing between you and your worthiness?
As we sit with these inquiries, we come to realize that our ability to experience Union with another will always be constrained by our ability to touch this place of Union within our own hearts. The extent to which we can receive love is directly proportional to the extent to which we can love ourselves, or better yet, the extent to which we can access Universal Love in our own heart chakras, harmonizing higher and lower frequencies — alchemizing duality — and attuning ourselves to Love as an orientation toward life, not a foolish design in which we either succeed or fail.
Remember that this alchemy is happening on a collective level, for one and for all, throughout 2022. Though you can and will learn Lovers lessons in deeply personal ways, this isn’t just a warm and fuzzy encouragement toward self-love. It’s no walk in the park, to enter a Lovers year now, in this era of great awakening but also of great existential threat. I believe that our collective survival depends upon the collective consciousness that is the fruit of Lovers labor. It feels like an urgent imperative, to bring this healing technology of the Heart back online, to re-member our interconnectedness to all beings and to all things, to reclaim the Earth as an Eden where each one of us is already worthy, already whole.
But we can’t achieve this Union by bypassing dualities, leaping over them and into Oneness. No, we must enter directly into duality, the feelings of separation, of unworthiness, the heartbreak and the longing, in order to see through the illusion of separation — and into the One Light.
To dig deeper into The Lovers card, you can check out Kate’s Year of the Lovers offering. She also recommends two podcasts, Tarot for the Wild Soul by Lindsay Mack and Between the Worlds by Amanda Yates Garcia. Here are some episodes from each that focus on The Lovers card:
- The Soulmate in the Mirror: Exploring the ‘love’ cards in the Tarot (Tarot for the Wild Soul)
- Looking into the Mirror with The Lovers (Tarot for the Wild Soul)
- The Lovers — Your Relationship to Love (Between the Worlds, formerly Strange Magic)
- What to Expect in the Lovers Year (Between the Worlds)
Kate Sheridan is a tarot reader and astrologer who calls herself The Laundress. Through her project The Spiral Temple, Kate holds sacred space to re-member the Goddess, reawaken the Divine Feminine, and reconnect with the cycles of the Moon and the Wheel of the Year. You can find her online at www.thelaundresstarot.com and on Instagram @themodernlaundress.